The Dominica government is going to court to appeal an amount awarded to former parliamentary secretary Jacqueline Theodore in 2008, for land it acquired.
A tribunal awarded Theodore over $3 million for the land belonging to her husband in Calibishie; but Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has disclosed that while some payments have been made to Theodore the monies ordered are “beyond the value of the property.”
The government feels that amount is exorbitant and is in the process of appealing the ruling, ordered to be paid by the courts.
Theodore recently took her issue to the media since she has not been fully compensated by the government, for cutting a section of her land for use as a road some years ago.
According to Prime Minister Skerrit, a private company was responsible for cutting the road at the time under the United Workers Party (UWP) administration, and not his Dominica Labour Party Government.
“This government in 2000 to 2005 [and] 2009 never took Mrs. Theodore’s land. Rosie Douglas (dead former prime minister), Pierre Charles (dead former prime minister) and myself were never responsible for taking Mrs Theodore’s land. A private company back then under the United Workers Party government went in and built a road on property belonging to Mrs. Theodore’s husband. The government at the time had nothing to do with that,” Skerrit told the media at a press conference on Tuesday.
Skerrit reiterated that it was not a government or cabinet action, but that of the private company involved in lumber. He said the UWP Government got involved in the matter for political reasons, and the then minister of works authorised that the government would compensate the Theodore family in respect to the trespassers.
He blamed the entire situation on the “mistake” of the UWP’s minister of works, who caused the government to become a party in this matter.
“I believe what should have been done at the time was that the government should have distanced itself clear from this matter so we have no part to play in this. There was no authority to cut any road on Mrs Theodore’s land and therefore that’s not what happened then, and of course who has to pay for it? By wrong action by the minister and the people of Dominica has to pay for it,” the prime minister stated.
He further explained, “Time elapsed improvements were made, the matter was taken to court, the court ruled. Later on there was a tribunal set up, the tribunal has given a ruling in favour of Mrs Theodore and there is another process in law that has to go through to allow this.”
The prime minister noted however, that out of a tribunal ruling which went in favour of Theodore the government awarded her some compensation for her land in acting in good faith.
“I authorised the payment out of the consolidated fund to show that we are acting in good faith and so forth, but I understand the frustration that some people may have with the process and so forth, but I don’t think it is fair to give the impression or to make the allegations that it is the government, the ministers that were interfering in the process when it is not true,” he said.
Nonetheless, the prime minister recognised that Theodore has a right to express her frustration if her compensation is being delayed.
“The government is not saying that she’s not entitled to any money. What the government is saying what has been awarded to her is beyond the value of the property and we’re not appealing the ruling, we’re appealing the amount,” PM Skerrit noted.
According to a memorandum by the General Registrar Reginald Winston-this Civil Appeal case will be heard in April 2010.
Theodore contested the 2009 general elections as an independent candidate. She previously contested the Castle Bruce seat on a Labour Party ticket in 2000, where she lost to UWP’s candidate Loreen Bannis-Roberts, who subsequently crossed floor to the DLP.