Hon Prime Minister, Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit has called on Dominicans living abroad to speak well of Dominica and Dominicans.
The Hon Prime Minister made these comments at the diaspora forum at the State House Conference Room on Tuesday, November 1.
The Labour Party Administration, over the years, has made meeting with Dominicans living overseas an integral part of the independence celebrations.
“We need Dominicans selling Dominica; we need Dominicans selling Dominicans,” he said. “We need to speak of our friendliness, of our brilliance, of our kind and loving nature as a people. We need to speak of our mature system of government and respect for the rule of law. I have always contended that given the number of Dominicans resident in Europe, North, South and Latin America and the Caribbean no one should in this day and age should be confusing Dominica with the Dominican Republic.”
Hon Skerrit also expressed deep gratitude for the support of the diaspora after Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015. He spoke highly of the island’s ability to bounce back after the disaster. More importantly he stressed on the aim of Government to build back better and stronger.
“Tropical Storm Erika taught us the valuable lesson of the need for constant retooling. Clearly, after such a horrific experience, we have to be mindful of the potential impact of natural disasters on Dominica and we must plan for and build around this. That is why Government has embraced the theme of ‘building back better’ for we are determined to ensure that our infrastructure is rebuilt and reshaped to withstand all to which we are susceptible,” he said.
The Dominica leader explained further that several places damaged by the storm have been marked for reconstruction. However, he says, Government has not rushed in the process of replacement.
“We are bent on benefitting from the best available technical advice in the redesign and rebuilding of our roadways.”
Hon Skerrit also outlined the country’s progress in education, agriculture, housing and post Erika reconstruction efforts.
This year’s meeting focused on encouraging Dominicans living overseas to make an even larger contribution to Dominica’s economy through investment. The meeting was aptly themed ‘strengthening our commitment through investment’.
The Hon Minister for Small Business Development, Roselyn Paul addressed the gathering saying, “Traditionally the Dominican Diaspora has been seen as a support system for families particularly in terms of remittances and sending home barrels of groceries…a very important role and has also facilitated out- migration so that persons can [use] families as a means of finding gainful employment. Increasingly though the Government and agencies such as the Investment Development Authority (IDA) and community-based organizations perceive the diaspora in a much broader development light.”
The diaspora, she said, can be used as “an asset to turn around the negative consequences of migration into long-term development benefits.”
The opportunity for investment also exists within the geothermal sector. The Hon Minister for Employment, Ian Douglas explained that Government’s pursuits in developing Dominica’s geothermal resource have been satisfactory.
He told the audience that Government’s vision is to encourage business in Dominica with a cheaper and more reliable source of energy.
“Our goal is to be able to provide a cheaper, more reliable source of energy to our people in keeping with our theme of being the ‘nature island of the world.’ Remember everything that we do falls under the brand so the geothermal energy positions us as the leading nature island, not only of the Caribbean but of the world…more companies will be able to move to Dominica and set up their businesses in manufacturing and other processes because geothermal energy eventually and ultimately will allow us to have a cheaper, more reliable source of energy,” he explained.
The Hon Minister for Health, Dr Kenneth Darroux also took the opportunity to speak of the country’s progress in the health sector. He spoke extensively on Government’s plans for the new national hospital.
The event was attended by hundreds of Dominicans living overseas and several had the opportunity to ask questions, make suggestions and give comments.
The overall impression was that of great pride in the progress of the country and commendation for the work of the Labour Party Administration.