The United Workers Party (UWP) is promising a new sustainable Nature Island Economy with agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, ICT, the cultural industries and a water industry as the major pillars, if it becomes Dominica’s next government.
The next general election is constitutionally due by May 2020.
Opposition leader and leader of the party, Lennox Linton said during a UWP news conference recently, that it is the only party that’s ready and able to lead the change that Dominica needs after “the colossal governance failures” of the Roosevelt Skerrit-led DLP administration. He accused Skerrit and “his followers of reducing Dominica to the indignities of poverty, joblessness and dependency over the past two decades” and said his party was ready with its “Vision 2020 initiative”, to receive the people’s mandate to lead and manage their affairs in government..
He also said that a UWP government will grow the economy by 7% per year, create 12,000 new jobs by 2025, and increase the minimum wage and old age pensions by no less than 50%.
“We will restore livelihoods and bring back regular income to families in the farming communities of Dominica…and enact legislation and regulations to legalize, grow, process and export cannabis, and cannabis-based health and wellness products,” Linton stated.
He said a UWP government will provide agricultural inputs, farm labour and financial grants to farmers to enable production of a range of high value products for export and will purchase at least two refrigerated vessels to transport Nature Island-branded, primary and processed agricultural products in the Caribbean. They will also provide low interest loans, financial grants and appropriate fiscal incentives to deserving tourist-service providers and manufacturers for refinancing, refurbishment and expansion of their establishments.
“We will construct an eco-friendly, state-of-the-art, international airport, we will expand and modernize our sea ports, we will open the Delice/Petite Savanne road and complete the Roseau Road Reinstatement Project… Overall, we will build and upgrade our road network and bridges to the highest standards of resilience to natural disasters,” he declared. “We will fully reinstate, restructure and operationalize the Public Works Corporation and will ensure there is fairness, equity, proper accountability, and no political interference in government’s housing assistance programme.”
A UWP administration, he said, will broaden government’s home assistance programme to include a one-time financial grant to deserving single-parent tenants who suffered loss of house contents during passage of Hurricane Maria and, will, in the first instance, allow duty free entry of essential building materials for one year.
According to Linton, primary health care systems will be restored and tertiary care upgraded. The State will pay the tuition fees of all Dominican students attending the Dominica State College and the size of Cabinet “will be reduced by at least forty percent.” But this move is not expected to affect the Ministry of Kalinago Affairs as the portfolio of that minister will be expanded. The Carib Act will be amended “to meet the needs of our Kalinago brothers and sisters.” he said.
Linton reiterated his promise “to pursue the appropriate constitutional amendments and enact legislation to limit the time in office for any Prime Minister to 2 five-year terms” and to establish a fixed date for general elections every five years.
“We call on our nature island people to continue to put the country first, irrespective of partisan allegiance. Let us not place party before people and country. Let us unite over this common desire for change, knowing that those whose failure and destruction we seek to change from, cannot present us with the change which we need,” the UWP leader stated.
At the DLP delegates conference which was held in Londonderry earlier this month, Prime Minister Skerrit presented an election slate with thirteen new candidates whom he described as “the fresh faces of change in Dominican politics,” adding, “The other side has little that is fresh and has made no meaningful change.”