“We must be mindful of the need to maintain fiscal prudence while we try to respond to the needs of our citizens,” says Dominican leader
Roseau, Dominica – April 21, 2009……………… Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Social Security, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has said that the current global economic situation is likely to have a negative impact on Dominica. The Dominican leader also highlighted the measures being implemented locally to deal with what is being described as the worst world economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The Prime Minister was at the time speaking at the first of three pre-budget consultations last Tuesday in advance of the presentation of the 2009/2010 Budget.
“By all accounts the current global situation is unprecedented and it is likely to affect us in many ways including a drop in tourism receipts, reductions in remittances, exchange rate losses and uncertainty in the direction of international oil prices. We have seen the impact even on the financial sector in the region,” the Prime Minister told representatives from the public and private sectors.
Whilst acknowledging that the present economic circumstances are indeed challenging, the Prime Minister said, “We prefer to see it as an opportunity rather than a threat. It is our view that how we come out of this crisis depends on how we respond to it at this time. We cannot be frivolous, we cannot be imprudent, but we must be strategic, mindful of the need to maintain fiscal prudence while we try to respond to the needs of our citizens”.
According to the Prime Minister, Government’s response has been to quicken the pace of implementation of its Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP). A number of infrastructural projects now being implemented continue to have a positive impact on employment. Hon. Skerrit added that 95% of purchases of materials and supplies by the Government are done locally and highlighted the tremendous positive impact of that policy on the private sector here.
” So in case of the Housing Revolution, every single house that the government is repairing and every single house the government is building, we have purchased the materials locally , whether it is a nail or a tin of paint ,” Prime Minister Skerrit said.
The Government has also put in place a number of measures to cut expenditure including a freeze on international travel except in exceptional circumstances, a freeze on the purchase of non-essential goods and services and reduction in energy consumption and telecommunications services.
With respect to the private sector, both local and foreign, the Government continues to grant concessions to a number of firms which have come forward with proposals for doing business in Dominica. Government has also provided direct technical and financial support to small businesses.
Hon. Skerrit also said that even while his Government is focusing on growth, “We are mindful of the negative social impact that the global situation can have on our people if remittances are to decline or if jobs are to be lost. And so we continue to assist the less fortunate persons including our single parent households through such programmes as the school transportation programme and the housing programme. And there are a number of other social programmes that the government over the years has in fact implemented. For the employed we have sought to review the income tax regime by reducing the income tax rates and of course increasing the tax threshold to the point where several dozens of families no longer pay income tax in this country.”
The second pre-budget consultation will take place today, Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at the Public Service Training Centre, starting at 2:30 p.m. Representatives from Farmer Organisations have been invited.
The final consultation involving Civil Society and Trade Unions, including political parties will take place on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, commencing at 2.30pm at the Public Service Training Centre.