Leader of the Opposition, Lennox Linton, has written to Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, demanding immediate revocation of what he says is a Cabinet decision to approve a monthly payment of EC$32,000.00 to rent a residence in Morne Daniel from Mercury Properties Development Ltd for the prime minister.
“It has come to public attention that on or about June 9th, 2020, the Cabinet decided to impose on the people of Dominica the extraordinary burden of a monthly payment of EC$32,000.00 to rent a palatial residence in Morne Daniel for the Prime Minister despite the availability of the Prime Minister’s official residence at Morne Bruce,” Linton writes.
He goes on to state, “The Parliamentary Opposition strongly condemns this morally and legally indefensible abuse of the authority of Cabinet. EC$32,000.00 is more than three times the monthly salary of the Prime Minister and more than the annual income of the vast majority of Dominicans. As Prime Minister for more than 16 years, you are well aware that Cabinet has no lawful authority for wasteful, uneconomical, bad value-for-money spending of public funds. You are also aware that based on established appellate jurisprudence, Cabinet does not have the unfettered right to spend taxpayers’ money in such a capricious manner without public tender or competitive bidding.”
Linton also cites “grave public concern” about the relationship between the CEO of Montreal Management Company, who he says is the sole director of Mercury Properties Development Ltd which owns the Morne Daniel residence, and Prime Minister Skerrit, with regard to over one billion dollars from Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment revenues for the financial year 2018/2019 which he has been calling on Skerrit to account for.
“The lack of transparency and accountability in the utilization of these public revenues raises questions about the source of funding for the Morne Daniel residence and your alleged ownership interest in it,” says the leader of the Opposition. “…Mercury Properties Development Ltd is now going to receive from the people of Dominica EC$768,000.00 on a two-year rent deal arising out of Cabinet’s unlawful exercise of administrative discretion.”
Linton describes the cabinet decision as unconscionable and a clear abuse of public office for the personal benefit of the Head of Cabinet.
“[It] is even more reprehensible coming at a time when government has failed miserably to provide from the cash reserves of the state, adequate relief to the people of Dominica suffering from severe financial difficulties on account of the COVID 19 economic downturn,” he contends.
“We strongly oppose the use of money belonging to the people of Dominica for corrupt, selfish purposes and demand an immediate revocation of the Cabinet decision to rent the Morne Daniel residence from Mercury Properties Development Ltd for EC$32,000.00 monthly,” states the Opposition Leader. “Should Cabinet refuse to reverse this decision that flagrantly contravenes the financial regulations for procurement of public services, we will use all legal means and the rights granted to us by the Constitution of Dominica to have this matter resolved in the public interest.”
Linton has copied the letter to the Financial Secretary and the Accountant General advising them to honour their rule of law obligations on behalf of the people of Dominica and refuse to make any payment from the resources of the state “pursuant to the unlawful June 2020 Cabinet decision to rent the Morne Daniel residence for the Prime Minister.”