In an address to the nation last evening, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit revealed the first of a series of important announcements regarding the country’s recovery and rebuilding plans following his Washington and Miami meetings last week.
He said the nation has to be revitalised to build resilience quickly as Dominica cannot become dependent on relief and the hurricane season is not yet over. Thus, there is no time to waste and Government has been fighting on three fronts: recovery, rebuilding and relief.
Prime Minister Skerrit says we also run the risk of being pressured by those who would seek to use the country’s weakened state to try to tilt policies; to influence who Dominica’s friends are or how we tender for business if we delay our recovery.
He said, “Traditionally Dominicans are friends to all but satellites of none. Let us not take that position for granted. It is a position you can only afford by being economically viable.”
The nation’s leader also used the opportunity to acknowledge the support of two individuals: philanthropist and businessman, Denis O’Brien for his quick response to Dominica’s situation and establishing linkages with experts to assist Dominica and top-ranking economics expert, Avinash Persaud who has been designated Special Economic Advisor on the Economic Recovery of Dominica.
Prime Minister Skerrit hopes to announce an extraordinarily generous gift in the power sphere next week when the details are confirmed.
PM Skerrit reiterated government’s 12-point recovery plan:
The central feature of the recovery plan is something the country has to fund to provide small grants to farmers and small businesses to get the sectors up and running again. Another major component of Dominica’s recovery plan is rebuilding better major public infrastructure: bridges, slope interventions, water systems, roads and ports. Also integral to that plan is the rebuilding of our future communities in a climate resilient way which will include the repair and rebuilding of schools, clinics, homes and in some cases entire communities to ensure food security, energy security and ICT security.
-WORLD BANK – The currently proposed package from the World Bank includes a EC$270M tranche of funding alongside a further EC$83M tranche specifically for disaster resilient infrastructure. PM Skerrit believes the disaster resilient tranche will end up closer to EC$150m after a reassessment of needs is completed within the next month.
Also agreed upon was funding for the development of food and energy security and additional budgetary funding for our general climate resiliency programs. In addition to new money being made available, the World Bank has agreed to increase the proportion of this funding that will come in the form of grants and not loans and the flexibility to use funds previously assigned for less pressing activities. The Prime Minister noted that the Government has engaged other development partners who have offered similar flexibility.
-In addition to that, government will be able to apply already agreed funds of EC $175M from the United Kingdom and European Union towards post Maria rebuilding exercise.
-While in Washington last week, he also met and discussed plans with Managing Director of the IMF, Madame Christine Lagarde. The fund has offered expertise and modest overdraft facilities on generous terms.
-Government will reveal plans in the next few weeks on plans for a Rainforest Restoration Bond or Trust and other similar financial instruments that will raise another further EC$200M.
-Government is working with a number of American organisations which have expressed commitment to support our goal to be the first climate resilient nation and have offered other substantial further assistance and teams of expertise in areas of energy security, resilient building and new insurance models.
– Spoke to president Clinton last Tuesday who expressed concern for people of Dominica and his support for our climate resilient nation strategy through the Clinton climate initiative.
– Prime Minister Skerrit announced that Dominica now has the international funding to immediately establish a program of grants. Each grant will be up to EC$10,000 and available to farmers and small businesses. The grants will be phased into two or three parts with the later parts dependent on appropriate use of the first part. We are working internally on the most effective and fastest way of delivering these grants.
-PM Skerrit also announced a HOME BUILDING EXPO. The international best practice approach is that everyone who prequalifies, from anywhere in the world will be invited to submit plans for climate-resilient, energy-efficient affordable homes that we can build here in Dominica.
A panel of leading international, regional and local professionals including architects and engineers will then review these plans to select ten of the most appropriate.
Tenders will then be sent out to build these ten designs and then based on these tender prices, there will be a final selection of five designs.
Each of these 5 designs would then be built for our Expo so that the communities being re-housed will be able to chose, as individual householders, which of these designs they prefer. The design process will begin shortly and then the first phase of building homes where location issues are less pronounced.
-Initial funding has been set aside for at least 1000 disaster resistant homes and Government will finance a further 1000 from the proceeds of the Forest Restoration Bond and other financial instruments. It is expected that other partnership with the Foundations to help us fund a further 3,000.
-Government will begin to spend money to get all schools and clinics functioning again in some instances by implementing temporary building solutions. Government will incorporate the building of climate resilient schools and will establish a short term climate resilient nation agency.
-Once the joint needs exercise is over in one month’s time, Government expects to fast track a large package if infrastructure works on bridges, roads and slopes. Total approved budget for public infrastructure is currently EC$175M spread between world bank and UK funded projects. PM SKerrit says there has been good indication that the scope of work can be extended as well as funding by a further EC$75M to bring to a total of EC$250M. Once this process of rebuilding our infrastructure is underway we will then be able to roll out our plans/ for our future food and energy security.
A FEW OF HIS FINAL WORDS
“Overall, Fellow Dominicans and others, resident in Dominica, and those of you living and monitoring developments from afar, rest assured that we have a solid strategy and plan for recovery and rebuilding Dominica that is coming into place.
Of course the best laid plans can change and we are prepared for that. But the direction remains constant and clear. We will rebuild Dominica to be more resilient and more sustainable……….I do not know of any country in the history of the world that has suffered such total devastation, but which in less than 3 weeks, has been able to move beyond pure relief efforts to start the economic recovery. None!”
LISTEN TO THE COMPLETE ADDRESS HERE: