Political Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) and leader of the parliamentary opposition, Lennox Linton, has announced that the party’s attorneys have been instructed to take legal action against Minister for Agriculture Reginald Austrie, talk show host Simeon Albert and radio station Kairi FM for alleged defamation.
Linton said the action was being taken because of statements made by Austrie on the “Heng” programme on Kairi FM accusing the party of writing to Ross University asking them not to return to Dominica following the school’s relocation out of the island after Hurricane Maria.
“As a result of the statement by Reginald Austrie on Kairi FM this morning, I have instructed my attorneys to proceed with legal action on behalf of myself and the members of the national executive of the United Workers Party,” Linton stated on the UWP’s weekly radio programme on Q95FM on Thursday night, August 2, 2018. “Because this has to stop. This constant lying and lying and lying to denigrate people, to put them in bad light, to score political points, it has to come to an end and I have instructed my attorneys that we ought to proceed against Reginald Austrie, Simeon Albert, the host of the programme and Kairi FM, the radio station.”
Meanwhile, on the question of the uncertainty surrounding Ross University’s return to the island, Linton said he believes that Ross’s role as a major driver of economic activity on the island, necessitates that the prime minister should address the nation urgently on the way forward. He explained that the operations of the 40 year old institution, which was born and raised in Dominica, accounted for more than 30% of economic activity before Maria.
“When we look at the Ross income earners for service providers in (the) Dominica economy, we can talk about the area of travel and airfares that go to LIAT, and the passenger taxes, the landing fees that go to the government of the Commonwealth of Dominica. We can talk about the inbound and outbound logistics and ground transportation costs for travelling to and travelling from Dominica, and the importation of basic needs that Ross students engage in from time to time,” the Opposition Leader explained.
Very significant, Linton pointed out, was the investment made by Dominicans in providing housing for Ross University students and faculty over the years.
“Recent estimates put the total at risk investment in housing stock in the Picard area at over $50 million EC dollars, all borrowed from local financial institutions. These loans are serviced directly from the student rental income which ranged from $400 US to $700 dollars US per unit, per month. That equates to millions of US dollars coming into the Currency Union just because of Ross which played a pivotal role in sustaining our external US dollar reserves,” Linton noted.
He also highlighted the economic benefits to agriculture, the utility companies, restaurants, transportation, entertainment, the multiplier effect of all of these anciliary services on the Portsmouth economy and resultant tax benefits to the government from the operation of Ross on the island.