The United Workers Party is calling for an immediate discontinuation of the Skerrit Administration’s politicization of the World Bank’s Agricultural Emergency Response Grant (AERG) that has subjected hundreds of bona fide farmers and fishers to blatant injustice.
Given the number of recipients of the funds who are not involved in farming or fishing and the number of farmers and fishers still on the merry-go-round of disrespect waiting to receive their entitlement, it is now clear that the Skerrit administration has abused the 18-million-dollar grant for partisan political purposes.
The UWP believes that in the public interest of fairness, equity, transparency and accountability in the utilization of post Maria financial assistance from the world community, the World Bank is duty bound to order a full forensic investigation of the issues that have made the program a hotbed of controversy.
The controversial issues include but are not limited to:
1) The confusion over whether the assistance programme was for farm rehabilitation to revitalize the Agricultural sector or for social protection/poverty alleviation
2) The impossibility of achieving the agriculture revival benefits intended by the donors and widely expected by the people of Dominica because substantial amounts of the grant were distributed as political hand-outs from the ruling Dominica Labour Party
3) The use of the Extension Officers in the Ministry of Agriculture to prepare a list of bona fide farmers and place them into two categories based on the size of their commercial output; and the authorization of operatives in the Office of Prime Minister to adjust that list based on political considerations
4) The high percentage of persons benefitting as large commercial farmers in the constituency of the Prime Minister compared to other far more productive farming communities in the country
5) The hundreds of farmers across all agricultural districts whose written complaints about inadequate payments or no payments at all remain unresolved
6) The blame and threats directed at Agricultural Extension Officers for a program executed by operatives in the Office of the Prime Minister who are constantly praised by the Prime Minister for the very work that has placed significant resources allocated to farmers at the disposal of non-farmers
We call on the Skerrit administration to publish the criteria approved by the World Bank for the distribution of the grant and end immediately this reckless, partisan, political and anti-resilience behavior in the management of post Maria rebuilding initiatives.