The leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, has reiterated his party’s decision, if it becomes the next government, to give $25,000 to each household in Dominica once the 1.2 billion dollars in revenue from the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme which he has said is missing from the 2019-2020 national budget, has been recovered.
Linton first made the disclosure at a public meeting of his party in Roseau on November 8 shortly after Prime Minister Skerrit announced the date for the next general election. The statement evoked much criticism from his political opponents and raised some eyebrows in not-so partisan circles.
He repeated that promise at the launch on Sunday, November 11, of UWP Salybia candidate, Anette Sanford but this time, with a special note for benefit of his critics.
“I know a lot of people especially those who don’t listen to me carefully, are asking questions about 25 thousand dollars from your passport billions going into each household in Dominica,” Linton stated. “It cannot be; it cannot be that money belonging to the people that would have gone into the private coffers of Skerrit and his friends if we had not pointed out, detected the discrepancy and stood with you the people of Dominica to get it back, it cannot be that that money is returned or we succeed in getting it back that you, the people of Dominica don’t feel directly the benefit of your money. So we will ensure that once that money is returned at least $25,000 will go to each household in the Commonwealth of Dominica.”
He believes that it will create a huge stimulus for the economy and will send a message that the people’s money belongs to the people and they are the ones that must benefit from it.
“Be clear, be very clear that this is not about money to influence votes or to give Labourites or to give Workers, or to give Freedomites or to give Pappyites,” he stressed. “This money that belongs to every single Dominican and all the families of Dominica, all the households in Dominica will benefit.”
He pointed out that some of the recovered revenue will be used to take care of other vital interests, “but some of that money would have to go directly to the people of Dominica. That is our pledge and that is how we will go forward.”
Linton insisted, “We will find the people’s money where the people’s money has been hidden or diverted and we’ll return that money to the people of Dominica.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit issued a warning to his audience pounced on the opportunity afforded at the DLP endorsement ceremony for its Soufriere candidate, Denise Charles on Sunday, November 12, to warn Dominicans that if the UWP’s promise is kept, Dominica will not have enough money for long term development.
“You cannot give hungry people to share food…people will not get to eat. You give every family $25,000, you go by courts and you buy the furniture, what happens the next day, what happens in the next five years when you spend the money in one day?” he asked.
He said every time he attended parliament to obtain approval for the ‘Red Clinic’ which is now called ‘The Rapid Response Agency’, the United Workers Party opposed it.
The prime minister complained that even after visiting the homes of Dominicans and sitting down with them to find out how they live, he still gets accused by the opposition of giving people ‘handouts’.
He said that he has already used his own money to assist Dominicans with their basic needs and has run up an overdraft facility at the National Bank of Dominica (NBD) in an excess of forty thousand dollars on his personal savings where he created the ‘Public Assistance Program’ which has helped many persons across Dominica.
“If someone wants to lead a country,” Skerrit said, “you must first love people and know their needs, frustrations and dreams.”