Labour Party PRO, Dr. Aaron, continuing the litany of Labour Party propaganda, suggestio falsi, expressio falsi r and suppressio veri , in Chronicle of 25th Jan, makes the unsubstantiated claim that, “..James’ reason for being in Politics seems not to have much to do with benefits for the people”. Aaron extracts a quote from a 1990 Advocate editorial “those gentlemen (James and Prevost) did not disclose any policies which would be an improvement on the good governance of Dominica”, from which he illogically deduces that “…James is not known for policy making.” He then falls back on the Labour Party’s standard defence of blaming others for Labours failures.
In typical Labour Party style, in his limp and vapid logic he irrationally tries to shift the blame for the collapse of the Dominican Economy during the first term of Labour administration, 2000 to 2005, from Labour’s incompetence, Labour’s inability to manage the Economy, and Labours failure to complete the International Airport, to advance Tourism Investment, and to sustain Agriculture. Aaron blames Labours economic failure on the fact that the UWP took the Policy decision to diversify and grow the Dominican Economy, by providing direct air access to and from the North American and European markets, for both Tourism and fresh agricultural produce, and embarked upon construction of the most critical infrastructure, the International Airport.
Aaron’s sole argument is that James and UWP rejected the wrong advice of the World Bank and IMF against Dominica building an International Airport, as opposed to lighting Melville Hall airstrip. If we were still in 2000, I would say like the late Mr Masterlyn Labad, (God rest his soul) “Time Will tell.” But we are in 2013 and time has told. Time has loudly told that the World Bank advice to Dominica against building an international airport was wrong. Time has loudly told that Labour came into office on 3rd Feb., 2000, took that wrong advice of the World Bank and Halcrow Consultants, against the International Airport, abandoned the International Airport, and pushed the Dominican Economy into a recession and a coma from which it has never awoken.
Time has loudly told that under the leadership of Prime Minister the Honorable Edison James, the performance of the UWP Government during its time in office, 1995 to 2000, was A+, in Policies and Programs that benefitted all the people of Dominica, upheld the integrity in our Government, and maintained the name of Dominica in high esteem internationally. Over the last 14 years, time has painfully told Dominicans, that when it comes to electing a government, “Performance Matters.” And time has told Dominicans that based on performance, Hon. Edison James is ready to again take Dominica forward as Prime Minister.
I, Norris Prevost, do not say this only of my own accord. Here is an unsolicited email from a young Dominican, who was there at the time, and which was sent to me less than a week ago, on 23rd January. I do not believe that either Edison James or myself could say it better. It reads: “…I was telling my Dad just the other day how wonderful it was in the 90’s! All the opportunities available, the Island teeming with work and productivity, many young women and even many persons with challenges ably employed. We experienced a sense of Independence and achievement like never before! It was indeed a turning point in the history of the Island, as the Country was moving on in leaps and bounds to full development. I will never forget that decade as long as I live. It allowed me to vote for the first time for a Party (the UWP) which was determined that all Dominicans succeed, irrespective of background and even party affiliation. I doubt we will ever get a party like this again. I pray to God that He continues to give you and the fellow Executive of the UWP the strength and courage to continue fighting to take back our Country and restore back to a place of honour and dignity.”
In response to Mr Aaron’s and his Labour Government’s sanctimonious adulation and veneration of the IMF staff report, it is important to note that Dominica, like every Country, also has a Country Director on the Board of the IMF. The Country Director makes himself intimately knowledgeable of the economic circumstances of the County (or Countries he represents). Permit me to refer to the same Dominica IMF Consultation report of Dec 14th 1999, where the matter of the International airport was discussed with the UWP, and to share with you the Statement by Dominica’s IMF Exec Director, Thomas Burnes, Jan. 10th 2000.
“..My authorities (UWP Govt of Dominica) have established a set of priorities that they consider critical to the long term development of Dominica, and intend to pursue them at a pace somewhat faster than the staff desired path. .. My authorities have embarked on a plan to diversify the Economy, and in particular given its location, geography and climate have chosen to pursue Tourism. ..However a major constraint to Tourism development has been inadequate air lift capacity, given the constraints of a tiny domestic airport and the absence of night landing. It is against this background that Authorities should view the PSIP, and specifically the airport. A new airport symbolises Dominica’s need to take off in another Economic direction. While the scale of this project is large, it represents hope for new opportunities”
Looking at the Future
Mr. Burnes continued , “Since the mission was completed, the authorities s have been holding discussions with several companies to review possibilities of Build Operate Transfer ( BOT) arrangements, and are prepared to consider any options to minimize adverse financial implications of such a large undertaking. However, the World Bank will be sending a mission to review the feasibility in early January and advise the government on all aspects of the project, including multilateral concessional financing. The government will reserve finalization of any concrete plans on the project until this evaluation of the project has been completed. It is important that Directors appreciate that the government is prepared to review their plans for the airport in order to arrive at the best possible set of financing arrangements. However, it should remain clear that the government is committed to the new airport, and intends to go ahead, with this project, in the long term interest of the Country.”
The same IMF Consultation report of Jan 2000 confirms (P7, Fiscal Policy)the following funding had already been received for the International Airport and Stadium: Taiwan Grant $10m, Loan $10M @3.5%; Stadium $20m grant over 10 yrs, EU Cariforum Funds Euro14M Grant; amounting in all to over EC$300 million. In addition, UWP left over $185 million dollars in grant money from the EU, under the Special Framework Agreement (SFA) for diversifying the Economy. Between squandermania, incompetence and corruption, the over $300million mostly grant money which UWP left there for the International Airport and stadium, plus another $200million from the EU, passed through this Labour government like water whilst the Dominican Economy crumbled from positive growth of 2.5 to 3.5% in 1998/99 to negative growth of minus -4.2% in 2001 and further 4.7% decline in 2002. Now in 2013, Labour is hoping for a 1% economic growth.
Time and time again, time has woefully told, that this Labour gang was never ready for government. Not in 2000, not in 2005, not in 2009, and will never be ready until it is kicked out of office, sheds its “comrade” skin, goes through a cleansing process to get rid of the rotten suckers, and then try again with a new sanitized team. I can hear Mr Labad saying from his resting place, “I told Dominicans so”.