ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), which is boycotting the current sitting of the Dominica parliament, wants Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to indicate why he is seeking an additional EC$30 million (US$11.1 million) to cover government expenses for a six-month period last year.
“What we find is that for the period 1st July 2009 to 31st December 2009 there has been an additional expenditure of EC$30 million for items which were unforeseen. You presented your budget just around the end of June 2009, but you have additional expenditure, and this would be in addition to the estimates which were allocated for the entire period. Why is that?” asked UWP president Edison James.
James, along with two other UWP elected members are boycotting the new session of Parliament to protest what they claim were irregularities in the December 18 general elections that resulted in the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) being returned to office with a comfortable 18-3 victory.
The UWP has said it would participate instead in a “People’s Parliament” organised by the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) and the Citizens Forum. That forum coincides with the parliamentary session.
James said that he also wants the government to indicate why it is allocating EC$8 million (US$2.9 million) for the Public Support Programme, dubbed the “Red Clinic”.
“…how do you explain this, because the policy we are told, with respect to the Red Clinic, is that it is designed to alleviate poverty. So then we need to know who are the people and institutions you have made this money available to,” he said.
“We ask ourselves what specially was happening in the period. And it does not take a rocket scientist to remind us that it was an election year. And when you talk about electoral corruption and classical corruption you look to the supplementary estimates,” James said.
In presenting the supplementary estimates, Prime Minister Skerrit said that the tax payers owe in excess of EC$98 million (US$36.2 million).
“We have a serious challenge in the country in respect to the amounts owed by the people of Dominica to the State. The State goes ahead and buys estates, sub divides it, put in roads, electricity water and telephones, to major cost to the state and we don’t sell the land at market value. We sell it at concessionary rates to citizens and yet still we have a number of them who do not come forward and pay what is being owed,” he said.
According to the prime minister, 40 per cent of the money owed to the Inland Revenue Department will not be collected because some of those persons in default may have died.
“But 10 per cent, 20 per cent, 30 per cent…of that amount is a significant sum, especially in light of the global crisis. So my appeal is that, while government will play its part, a country cannot be developed by government alone,” he said.