Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has responded to criticisms by some members of the public following a recent trip to Dubai where he was accompanied by a nine-member delegation, which included three popular local artistes to promote Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Program.
The government is being accused of paying the artistes Chester “Daddy Chess” Letang, Michele Henderson and Deryck “Hunter” St Rose, an ‘astronomical amount’ of money to perform in Dubai.
However, Skerrit said during a press conference held at the Financial Center on Friday, that he totally reject this notion of large sums being spent on airline tickets and accommodation.
The Prime Minister further argued that he finds it “seriously offensive, anyone in our midst would grudge Michele Henderson, Daddy Chess and Hunter, three highly acclaimed and celebrated Dominican entertainers for the very small token of appreciation that they received for journeying all the way to Dubai to promote Dominica.”
“Indeed I can tell you, honestly I was somewhat ashamed when it was confirmed to me just how much each received for what I can assure you were some spectacular performances, all in tribute to and benefiting Dominica,” Skerrit remarked. “The government is being criticized for purchasing a grand total of nine airline tickets to fly a delegation to Dubai to promote Dominica, in a market from which Dominica derives hundreds of millions of dollars each year.”
Skerrit argued that it cannot be fair that Michele Henderson, who he described as one of the most accomplished entertainers Dominica has produced, is, “publicly ridiculed”.
“The same applies to Hunter and Daddy Chess,” he said. “One Thousand dollars is what they were paid and for this, they are being ridiculed by opposition politicians in this country, and being portrayed as having benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public purse.”
To those asked who why these three were chosen, Skerrit responded, “My simple answer to you…why not these three?”
He said airline tickets had to be purchased for the Dubai trip.
“If you are going to Dubai how else will you get there if you do not purchase an airline ticket?” he asked. “There is no bus route between Dominica and Dubai, and when you reach Dubai, where the members of the delegations are suppose to sleep? On the streets?”
Skerrit revealed that the only first class airline ticket paid for by the state was that of the Prime Minister.
He also spoke of an event in Dubai which was also criticized on social media.
“This was Dominica’s national day, these are Dominicans we are meeting with for the purpose of celebrating Dominica,” Skerrit stated. “Our guests were persons who helped to raise in excess of $200 million for Dominica last year, as well as potential investors for whom we are seeking to raise in excess of $300 million this year.”
He said several Independence related activities were hosted in Dubai at which direct marketing was done to promote Dominica Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Programe.