As Dominica celebrates its 45th year of independence, the government has announced plans for the country’s continued progress. One such plan involves the government’s intention to secure approval for a loan from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to fund the Roseau Enhancement Project.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made this announcement during his 45th independence address, where he revealed that the government would present this proposal to Parliament on November 10, 2023. The Roseau Enhancement Project has been conceived with the aim of metamorphosing the city of Roseau into a contemporary and aesthetically appealing urban center. This comprehensive endeavor encompasses the revitalization of roadways and bridges, the
construction of pedestrian walkways, and the augmentation of urban lighting infrastructure.
Additionally, the government will seek approval for the construction of an entertainment complex, complete with family-friendly attractions like a bowling alley, a purpose-built theater, a recording studio for local artists, and other features. Earlier this year, Skerrit revealed that this would be built at the Botanic Garden, as an integral component of the ongoing efforts to enhance this eco-friendly green space. At the time of the disclosure, he emphasized that the project would be underwritten by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has pledged a generous sum of US$2 million. He also stated that they have already conducted an on-site assessment in Roseau and have officially committed to financing this initiative as their inaugural project.
Meanwhile, in the realm of agriculture, Skerrit emphasized during his address the government’s commitment to achieving a contribution of $700 million to the economy from agriculture by 2030.
“We are providing assistance to farmers with financing, technical support, greenhouses, and operating space for start-up agricultural enterprises. We are pleased to see that our efforts and investments are bearing fruits, in that many more young people are making a career for themselves in agriculture,” he said.
As such the aim is to continue this trend by encouraging the use of innovative technologies to develop agriculture as a viable business and enhance the value of agricultural products.
Regarding housing, the Prime Minister reiterated the government’s commitment to “Building Back Better” following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Notably, 358 housing units are nearing completion and are scheduled for handover in the first half of 2024. To address the vulnerability of residents of Good Hope, San Sauveur, Petite Soufriere and Campbell, plans are underway for the construction of 327 homes for their relocation and resettlement. Additionally, young professionals, youths, and employees in the public and private sectors will receive support in realizing their homeownership dreams, with the construction of 50 new homes in Warner and Cotton Hill.
In the healthcare sector, the head of government emphasized the construction of new and enhanced health and wellness facilities in 11 communities, thanks to funding from the Citizenship by Investment Programme. Moreover, he states that other health facilities have been upgraded into SMART Centres, with support from the Government of the United Kingdom.
According to Skerrit, Dominica’s appeal as a unique and highly sought-after tourism destination continues to grow, largely due to the government’s deliberate efforts to enhance the quality of hotel accommodations. He adds that the country now boasts several five-star and even six-star hotels, with more under construction through the Citizenship by Investment Programme. Notably, he spoke of the construction of the International Airport, the largest single capital project in Dominica’s history, which is currently underway. According to Skerrit, this project, funded through the Citizenship by Investment Programme, will be accomplished without adding to the nation’s debt burden.
“Dominicans have long yearned for an international airport, a facility that every previous government promised to build but never did,” he said. “This Labour Party is delivering on that promise. It is no longer a figment of your imagination or a dream; you can see it unfolding before your very eyes in the village of Wesley. By God’s grace, our international airport will be built! The enormous benefits to be derived from a substantial increase in airlift to and from the island should not be underestimated.”
Another project on stream he spoke of is the construction of a cable car system in the Roseau Valley, designed to transport visitors to the boiling lake. He notes that this development will provide an opportunity for those unable to undertake the hike to experience this natural wonder with a short 20-minute ride. The government is also actively pursuing the development of the Cabrits Marina in Portsmouth and making significant progress in the development of the geothermal plant in Laudat.
Agreements with a developer for the construction of the power plant are expected to be finalized soon, and financing for new transmission lines from Laudat to Fond Cole has been secured. As aired, the government is actively engaged in the establishment of a Green Eco-Industrial Park, with support from the Green Climate Fund.
He notes that this will not only spur industrial development on a large scale, but also attract businesses interested in utilizing clean, green, and affordable energy.