ADDRESS TO THE NATION
BY PRIME MINISTER HON. ROOSEVELT SKERRIT
NOVEMBER 19, 2009
Fellow Dominicans, Comrades, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen…In my address to the
annual Independence Parade two weeks ago, I outlined my vision for taking Dominica
to the next level of development. I am satisfied that our valuable human resources are developing at a pace where at last
Dominica can confront and overcome many of the problems and challenges that have
plagued and constrained its development over the years.
The observation has often been made that for Dominica to progress, it needed to
upgrade and modernize its infrastructure.
Thanks to the generosity of strategic partners as well as to the tenacity of your
government in bringing to fruition an ambitious capital works programme that has
involved the upgrade of roadways, sidewalks, bridges and sea defences, our country is
tonight the picture of progress!
We are a country on the move! From your arrival at the new-look Melville Hall Airport,
through to your journey to Roseau or Portsmouth, there is an infrastructural revolution
underway. More than $300 million in capital works programmes are ongoing in
Dominica… and the Dominican taxpayers are not feeling any strain from that in their
At the same time, over 2,500 young Dominicans are enrolled in colleges and
universities at home and broad, preparing to take full advantage of the opportunities that
will abound from Dominica finally moving to the next level of its development.
Fellow Dominicans, my vision for this country involves a continuation of the
infrastructural revolution currently underway. I wish to see the Roseau to Melville Hall
Road completed.I wish to see the Roseau to Portsmouth super highway commenced
and completed. I wish to see the Loubiere to Grand Bay Link Road started and completed. I wish to see broadened pathways, reinforced and newly built bridges and sidewalks that provide both safety and aesthetic beauty.
My vision of Roseau is for the implementation of a massive urban renewal programme,
in which we retain our unique architectural themes, but yet modernize our capital city to
the extent where it is transformed into a bustling city for residents and visitors alike.
Currently, Dominica is the preferred destination for thousands of cruise ship passengers
sailing the Caribbean. The potential exists for us to become the number one port of
choice for cruise lines and passengers alike. I wish for Dominica to become the home
port for several of these visiting cruise ships and also to become a source of
procurement of water, fish, fruits, vegetables and other passenger necessities that we
produce here in Dominica.
My Dear Dominicans, this is not pie-in-the-sky thinking. I have already discussed this
vision and concept with senior officials of the cruise lines. I have also discussed funding
of this initiative with some of the said cruise lines as well as with state agencies in
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is considerable interest in the transformation of Dominica.
Investors want to do business in an improved and modernized Dominica. Already, we
are working on the upgrade of our health services.
For Dominica to become a home port and tourist destination of choice, it has to improve
and develop modern, state of the art health services. This was envisaged when we
negotiated a complete refurbishment of Princess Margaret Hospital with our friends from
the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
This project represents one of the pillars of our agreed to technical assistance package.
Presently, the relevant and required studies are at an advanced stage, to bring this
project to fruition within the next 48 months.
Additionally, we are negotiating to bring a five star resort and marina to the Cabrits area
in Portsmouth. Indeed, prospective investors in this mammoth ocean front project were in Dominica yesterday, Wednesday, and were brimming with confidence and excitement
at the prospect of transforming the entire Portsmouth area within the next three years.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I spoke at length a few days ago about our water resources and
our determination to not only capture, package and export more potable water, but also
to ensure that this precious commodity reaches every Dominican home in ample and
In my Independence Address also, I set out clearly how we would go about enhancing
and upgrading the vital agricultural sector and how we would build a facilitating and
protective wall around local entrepreneurs and small businesses, to shore up their
fortunes in this period of global economic austerity.
The AID Bank has already begun to roll out some of those initiatives to which the
Cabinet of Ministers has fully subscribed and given its blessing.
Education and Human Resource Development remains a top priority of your Labour
Party and we shall be unflinching in our resolve not to leave a single child behind in the
process. This government has expended more money and other resources on the
upgrade of our schools and tertiary education institutions than any previous
Government, and the performance of our children is a source of immeasurable pride
Yet, we shall not slacken in our resolve. Our goal of producing a graduate in every
household is real and attainable. We shall be unflinching in the pursuit of this goal!
Fellow Dominicans, Ladies and Gentlemen, your Dominica Labour Party administration
is clear on where Dominica can go and how it can get there.
Given the opportunity, the Dominica Labour Party will take Dominica to the next level!
We have the vision; we have the plan; we have the contacts, and we have access to the
resources to make it all happen. We are tonight, the only political party in Dominica with
a clear and stated vision for how we will advance this country, and from where we will
get the resources to do such.
It is easy for others to talk about development; but it is harder for them to say, with
clarity, how they will raise the money to get the job done.
I repeat, without fear of contradiction, that as of tonight, there is only one vision and one
plan on the table for taking Dominica forward and to the next level, and that is the vision
and the plan of the Dominica Labour Party! Others are concerned with tearing down and
undermining. We are focused on taking this beautiful country of ours to the next level.
But, Fellow Dominicans, there is a threat to Dominica’s evolutionary process continuing
I said in my Independence Address that we cannot continue the tribal politics of
yesteryear. I said this constant tearing down and undermining of persons in public life is
damaging to the country…and it must stop!
Over the years I have cautioned and even warned that our foreign policy as a nation
must be non-ambiguous. Persons doing business with Dominica must know where
Dominica stands on key philosophical and ideological issues.
Currently in Dominica today, the country is going in several directions, as far as foreign
policy signals are concerned. The Government of the day has established diplomatic
relations and strategic alliances with friendly countries that have been there for us in
good times and in bad.
Thanks to our enlightened foreign policy approaches, we have friendly nations that are
committed to working with us in our quest to take this country to the next level. They
have not only talked the talk, but, very importantly, have walked the walk as well.
But, tonight these friendly and sincere foreign governments are receiving very mixed
and confusing signals from Dominica. The Government of the day, they are aware, is
committed to those alliances and friendly relations. But the actions of other political
operatives in this country are a cause for major concern.
Dominica will not be taken seriously as a long term partner in development if its leader
is saying and doing one thing and it’s Leader-in-Waiting, according to the Constitution of
Dominica, is doing another.
can well understand the confused messages that are sent and received by the
People’s Republic of China, for example, where today the Prime Minister of Dominica
meets with the Chinese Ambassador to Dominica in Roseau, and tomorrow, Dominica’s
Leader of the Opposition meets with the Taiwanese Ambassador to St. Kitts in the
capital city of Basseterre.
I can understand the concern and consternation of our friends in the Bolivarian Republic
of Venezuela, where today the current Government of Dominica has clearly embraced
their expression of friendship and cooperation, but conversely, the Opposition in
Dominica has indicated at every opportunity its intention to sever ties with the
Government of President Hugo Chavez.
Tonight in Dominica, the future of Petro Caribe is in limbo. Tonight in Dominica, the
future of ALBA is in limbo.
Tonight in Dominica, several hundred million dollars worth of capital projects are in
limbo, because of the mixed and confusing signals and messages sent by the political
parties of this country.
My Dear Friends, I can understand the confusion in Havana, Cuba tonight where,
notwithstanding that country’s consistent expression of support and well wishes for the
Government and people of Dominica, the Government-in-Waiting in Dominica, the “Dis-
Loyal” Opposition, is unwilling and or unable to say whether it would embrace the
friendship and would collaborate with the Government of President Raul Castro of
Fellow Dominicans, this is a very serious state of affairs. The economic well-being of
our country is at stake. Tonight, it is under siege!
Ladies and Gentlemen, the experience of Dominica with the so-called Economic
Citizenship Programme, better known as the sale of passports, has not been a good
This country has been burnt at every turn. Your Dominica Labour Party is of the view
that while we will not stamp out or discontinue this programme altogether, we will also
not look to it for our economic salvation.
Your Dominica Labour Party Government has therefore signaled to all and sundry that
we are not inclined at this time to encourage or permit the unfettered and unregulated
sale of Dominican passports, as a means of meeting our fiscal objectives.
We will not be selling passports en-masse to anybody and we will certainly not be
appointing any entity as exclusive agent for the sale of Dominican economic citizenship
in Europe, Asia or elsewhere in the Far or Middle East.
But my friends not every political party in Dominica is committed to that principle. Not
every political party in Dominica is willing tonight to turn down the huge monetary offers
being made in exchange for an exclusive license to sell Dominican passports! Not every
political party in Dominica has looked these modern day pirates in the face and said
“Get Behind Me Satan”!
No! There are political parties in Dominica tonight in active negotiations with passport
poachers; persons who are willing to make a quick buck from the sale of Dominican
passports; well aware of the medium and long term damage that this will cause to the
image, welfare and well-being of Dominica.
I have already been warned by senior officials in the European Union that any move by
Dominica to resuscitate its Economic Citizenship Programme to the extent where the
Dominican Passport can be fetched over the counter for as little as £25,000 pounds
sterling, will be met by a swift downgrading of the Dominican passport, to the point
where each Dominican would require a visa to set foot in any European country. Is that
what we want for ourselves, Ladies and Gentlemen?
These are very serious issues! These are matters on which you need to ponder.
There is nothing secret about the so-called secret trips that leaders of political parties in
Dominica have been making to Basseterre, St. Kitts and even to St. John’s Antigua as
recent as last weekend.
These secret sessions are being monitored and they are of concern to genuine friends
and well wishers of Dominica. It has come to the point where the economic well-being
of Dominica is seriously threatened.
As a country, we are going to have to make a choice! We are going to have to send a
clear and unambiguous signal to the European Union, to the People’s Republic of
China, to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and to Cuba, among other friendly
countries and agencies, as to where we stand as a people.
If the politicians are sending mixed messages, the people must take matters into their
own hands! They must use the single instrument they have at their disposal to
communicate to the wider world where they stand, and who they want as friends and
partners in Dominica’s developmental process.
The hour of decision is upon us! It is time for you to decide!
Also, Ladies and Gentlemen, the sad, unsavoury tendency of some in public life to
make a virtue of undermining and tearing down the characters and integrity of others is
unbecoming and must stop!
This practice by some, every day, every week and every month, to find something to
shout ‘scandal’ over, is a major, unnecessary distraction to the process of developing
this country and taking it to the next level.
The so-called Layou River Scandal was a perfect case in point. Months and months of
salacious gossip, rumour and innuendo have ended with a High Court Judge in a
foreign land saying he finds absolutely no fault in the actions of your government or
anyone associated therewith! What was supposed to be the mother of all scandals has
turned out to be as unfounded as all of the other notions in circulation.
I repeat tonight that we cannot advance as a nation if support and encouragement is
given to those who have made it a full-time job to undermine and tear down others
through envy, jealousy and downright bad-mindedness.
That aspect of politics in Dominica will hinder our efforts at taking this country to the
next level. We need to send a strong message to those who strive and thrive on the
politics of gossip, lies, innuendo and propaganda.
It is therefore fitting, Ladies and Gentlemen, that we approach the New Year with
renewed vigour and enthusiasm for going forward. We need to clean the slate and start
afresh. We need to rally together around the common cause of taking this beautiful
country of ours to the next level.
To achieve this, it is necessary for us to send clear and unambiguous messages to
friends and well-wishers abroad, including allied governments, of our intention as a
nation to stay the course.
The Government of the Day has outlined its vision and its intended course of action. We
have demonstrated that we have what it takes to take Dominica to the next level.
But we need to bring an end to the double-speaking! We need to bring an end to the
mixed signals! We need to bring an end to the politics of division! The politics of lies,
deceit and propaganda! We need to start the New Year afresh my friends. We need a
clear and unambiguous signal from you the mass of people of this country!
Accordingly, following my interpretation of your embrace of the vision that we have set
forth for this country; and consistent with the need for Dominicans to send a clear and
unambiguous message to the international community, of where we stand on the issues
I have outlined tonight, I have decided, as Head of Government, that it is time for us to
consult with you the voters of Dominica!
I need you to give the Dominica Labour Party and myself a fresh and unequivocal
mandate to pursue and implement the plan we have outlined for taking this country to
the next level. I need an end to the politics of lies, innuendo and character
I need for genuine friends of Dominica and partners in the process of the development
of Dominica, to feel welcomed and appreciated! I need for my colleagues in the Far
East and in Europe to know that there will not be the wholesale release of hundreds of
thousands of Dominican passports in the year 2010.
I need for all and sundry to know that Dominicans are one in the goal of working
together to take this country to the next level of development.
Accordingly, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am tonight ringing the bell!
Enough is enough! There is only one way to return order and decency to public life in
Dominica! We need to send to purveyors of the politics of negativity, a strong and
In accordance with the powers vested in me as Prime Minister of this country, under
Section 54 of the Constitution of Dominica, I have today, Thursday, 19th November,
2009, instructed His Excellency, the President of Dominica, to dissolve the Parliament
of Dominica, with immediate effect, and to issue a writ for the calling of general
Fellow Dominicans, at home and abroad…Nomination Day in Dominica will be
Wednesday, the 2nd day of December, 2009!
Ladies and Gentlemen, the day we shall choose between going forward and going
The day we shall choose to work together or be divided!
The day we shall choose to embrace our current foreign policy or return to a backward,
non-progressive way of thinking….
That day, my dear people, is Friday, the 18th day of December, 2009!
Friday, the 18th of December, 2009 is General Elections Day in Dominica!
I pray God’s Blessings and Guidance for a peaceful campaign.
May God Bless Dominica! May God bless us all! I thank you!