Resilient Dominica welcomes the world and investors: PM Roosevelt Skerrit
The country has reported just three cases of Covid-19 in 50 days and the PM credited the country's healthcare infrastructure and medical professionals for the successful containment of the disease
Rarely does one interview a prime minister who believes he has a higher calling in life, someone who 'lifts up his eyes to the hills from whence his help cometh'. Such leadership is dictated by a higher power - a divine calling, one is inclined to say.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica brings a unique spiritual vision to modern leadership that is both refreshing and inspiring. It is resilient, like his country and its people, while being progressive in its outlook.
In a recent interview with Khaleej Times, the PM spoke at length about Dominica's prospects, investment opportunities and the resilience of his nation that knows better than other countries how to prepare for and pick itself up from natural disasters.
The weather hasn't been kind to Dominica, which perseveres like no other modern nation does to mitigate the effects of climate change and changing weather patterns on its economy. The Caribbean country finds itself in the path of deadly hurricanes that cause widespread devastation every year, but the PM is upbeat as his government pushes ahead with sustainable development through its popular Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.
A robust disaster management system it fine-tunes constantly to deal with emerging threats has made Dominica climate-resilient. The country can, literally, weather the storms and much good work has been done since PM Skerrit took charge of the country 16 years ago. Only 31 back then, his vision has made Dominica an attractive destination for investors.
The CBI programme has seen a surge in interest from across the world as the country has invested in healthcare and other infrastructure from these investments.
"A united country, the robustness of our healthcare system, our climate efforts, have helped attract investors. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, our country was literally flattened. Normally, in circumstances like these, you would have associated health issues, but we never saw this in Dominica," he said.
The country has reported just three cases of Covid-19 in 50 days and the PM credited the country's healthcare infrastructure and medical professionals for the successful containment of the disease.
On the country's Housing Revolution programme, he said his government made a commitment to build 5,000 climate-resistant homes that could withstand natural disasters like storms, hurricanes and quakes. "These homes are built with funds from the CBI programme. Some 225 of these homes will be handed over to deserving people soon," he said.
Investments under the CBI programme are reported to the parliament and there is transparency, said the PM. These funds are used for public sector investment programmes, like building roads, schools, and other infrastructure. "Without boasting, I can say that we can be a template for other countries on how to make the Citizenship by Investment programme successful."
Dominica is on the frontlines of the battle against climate change and the country is investing in renewable energy. The PM said 85 per cent of energy would come from green sources in the next couple of years. This would also be financed by CBI funds. Excess energy would also be exported, PM Skerrit said. The country is moving away from plastic and has banned styrofoam.
On entrepreneurship, PM Skerrit said loans have been disbursed to budding businessmen, at just 1 or even zero per cent interest. "This has helped create jobs and reduce poverty. We have been able to use CBI funds to empower our citizens and create entrepreneurs," said the PM.
Responding to a question on what he thought was his biggest success as PM, he said, "I consider myself the least of the apostles. The unity in the country has helped us rebuild after natural disasters. Even during the recent curfew that was imposed to contain Covid-19, they followed instructions and this helped in our early recovery. It speaks of our preparedness."
Proactive, dynamic and forward-looking are terms the PM often uses about his government during the conversation. He is also pragmatic and says the trust of the citizens is vital. "When you look at challenges, you also see opportunities. We look at the positive side of things. I would say, with the greatest sense of humility, that we have come a long way."
His goal is to make Dominica the first climate-resilient country in the world, and the PM said his government will make it happen in a couple of years.
"Climate change is real... we believe in the science of climate change. We know storms will come, but we must be able to withstand and recover from them quickly." - email@example.com
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