Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has dismissed a suggestion that the government use funds from the much talked about Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program to pay salaries and give a raise to public servants.
Speaking recently he described such a move as ‘most dangerous’ since such funds are a form of non-taxed revenue.
“Any political party that is suggesting to a government, irrespective of who the government is, to use non tax revenue and resources for recurrent expenditure is a most dangerous thing to do …” he stated.
Recently funds from Dominica’s CBI program have been used for a number of projects across the island. Some have suggested that funds from the program be used for giving public servants a raise in the 2015-2018 triennium. The government has proposed a wage freeze for the period and although negotiations are ongoing, unions representing public servants have refused the offer.
But Skerrit said paying salaries is a legal obligation which must come from tax revenue because “you cannot go to the banks and borrow money and say that you will rely on the CBI to pay the loans.”
“The World Bank must see what is your tax revenue, what are your fiscals policies, how you intend to raise the money when the time comes to pay them because these are legal obligations,” he stated. “The government has a legal obligation to provide education to everyone up to age 16, when we provide assistance to the students who are going to college and who are going to university, it is not an obligation, it is because the government recognizes that it needs to help you educate yourself to come back and see the country in its advancements.”
He said the payment of gratuity and pensions is mandatory and must be paid through tax revenue.
“We must pay pensions and gratuity when people retire and these things must come from your tax revenue,” the Prime Minister said. “When countries are spending more than they are making they have to go and borrow to pay salaries and that is a bad trend because it will never fix the problem.”
General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU), Thomas Letang, had this to say on the matter, “What they are saying to us, indirectly, is that the Yes We Care Program for which CBI money is being used, the NEP program that is funded by the CBI money and all other forms of assistance, the toilet program, and all other assistance that is provided using CBI money – are you saying then that since CBI money is not sustainable – if you are saying that you cannot use that money to pay public officers salaries or increase in salaries because it is not sustainable, then we can say the same thing about all the other social programs that are being provided in the country. I have not heard of any instance where the CBI money is being used to improve on the working condition of public officers.”