Leader of the Opposition, Lennox Linton, has called for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the recent departure of the Ross University School of Medicine.
It was announced by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, last week, that the university, which is said to contribute as much as 30% of Dominica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), had officially ceased operations in the nation. Shortly thereafter, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, revealed that Ross University will be moving to their shores.
In a news conference held at Portsmouth, on Thursday, Linton hinted at “a conspiracy against Dominica,” and questioned whether Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s loyalty lies with Dominica or Barbados.
“There must be an inquiry. There will be an inquiry… The people need and demand answers,” he said. “What did the Prime Minister and his Barbadian advisors know about the departure of Ross, and when did they know it?”
Meantime, The Opposition Leader is of the view that Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria did not cause Ross University to leave, but rather “the failures of Skerrit’s administration did.”
Linton remarked that the current government has “failed Ross, failed the Ross investment, failed the people, and failed the Commonwealth of Dominica.”
He also pointed to a lack of transparency in the agreement between the Dominican government and Ross University.
“The Prime Minister says Ross University’s presence in Dominica is governed by an agreement between the university and the government. What does the agreement provide for? What obligations does it place on the government? What obligations does it place on Ross? Are there unmet government obligations under the agreement that allowed Ross to relocate without breaching the agreement?” Linton questioned.
He continued, “The Prime Minister agreed that at least by May 2018, that his government could not meet the requirements for the return of Ross by January 2019, but to-date, these requirements have not been disclosed.”
He said that the leadership team of Ross presented a number of investment support issues and public infrastructure improvement that needed to be addressed satisfactorily to facilitate the return of the American owned University.
Linton believes that what he describes as the failure of the Labour Party government to respond adequately to the needs of Ross and thereby secure its return, “reflects a hostility to the independence people enjoy from earning their own money, a lack of understanding of the investment umbrella that covers Ross, and an inability to nurture foreign investment relationships in a competitive global environment.”
He went on to say that the funds from the Citizenship By Investment Programme (CBI) must now be directed to the Portsmouth area to provide relief to the affected property owners and service providers.