Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has said Britain’s vote to exit the European Union (EU) is shocking and it will have an impact on a country like Dominica which depends heavily on foreign aid.
“It’s a major shockwave, it’s a major shock that has hit the world and it has been felt in Dominica from last night,” the Prime Minister said in a live interview on Kairi FM on Friday morning.
Commonly known as Brexit, the British people voted in a referendum by 52 percent on Thursday to leave the EU. The exit vote has been shocking with British Prime Minister, David Cameron, announcing that he will resign.
The vote has also sent markets around the world into a nose dive as a period of uncertainty emerges.
Skerrit said the repercussions will be felt almost immediately in Dominica since the EU will be losing a large chunk of its budget and it will have to
to restructure its whole approach to financing and development assistance.
He pointed out that Dominica has two or three outstanding packages from the EU, which he described as “significant sums.”
“One of which is about 8.9-millions euros which we have been promised from the EU as the result of Tropical Storm Erika and the cabinet had decided that that 8.9-millio euros would be used exclusively to continue improving farm access roads in Dominica,” he explained. “As you know, we have an existing contract of over $22-million or so for 10 or 12 feeder roads and the other feeder roads that were not captured in this financing, the cabinet has decided that we would use the 8.9-million euros to continue and to complete the rehabilitation of all feeder roads across Dominica and there are also other budget support that are outstanding from the EU.”
Skerrit pointed out that the exit will not have any impact on the bilateral relationship with the United Kingdom but over the coming months and years the negative impact will be felt in countries, including Dominica, that depend on foreign aid for their economic and social development.
“The decision to leave the EU is going to have major, major impact to developing economies like ours which rely heavily on development assistance from the EU,” he stated, adding that this is due to the fact that the priorities and the focus of the EU are going to change to see how it restructures without Britain.
“So the focus now will be within the EU rather than outside the EU and matters relating to the relationship of the EU with the rest of the developing world, Dominica included,” the Prime Minister said.
Skerrit explained the importance of foreign aid to Dominica and its development.
“Foreign aid is a crucial component of Dominica’s ability to finance its budget,” he stated. “I cannot recall a time that we did not need the assistance from our friendly partners. Grant aid has played and continue to play a very important role because as I have been saying to the Dominican population that the taxes which we pay, the revenue that we collect from the taxes which we pay, will always be insufficient to address the needs and the demands of the Dominican people and therefore we have to cultivate very strong diplomatic relationship with our traditional and emerging friends.”