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Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica

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Government To Announce Progress On International Airport

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The Hon. Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said the public will soon be informed about progress made thus far in his Party’s plans to construct an international airport.

“Very soon we will make public, a document which we have been able to sign [regarding] the financing and the management of the international airport."

The Dominica leader told reporters that the DLP Administration has always considered the construction of an international airport, however, the Party also noted that the huge cost associated with this venture would require private investment or the sourcing of grant funds to facilitate construction.

“We have always maintained that the treasury of Dominica; the taxpayers of Dominica; the citizens of Dominica cannot afford to pay for an airport by themselves,” the Prime Minister explained.

Hon. Skerrit further stated, “Any party which speaks about Dominica being able to build an airport by itself does not have any serious plans or intentions of doing that. You cannot afford it.”

The Prime Minister relayed that the reality of having to secure grant funds for much smaller projects such as road maintenance is difficult “far more for a major piece of expensive infrastructure, which is the international airport.”

According to the Prime Minister, Government is pursuing the option of attracting an investor as well as grant funding in addition to Government contributions.

Adult Education Division to Expand Summer Programme Courses

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Adult Education Officer, Martha Andre, has confirmed that The Adult Education Division (AED) will be offering new courses in their Annual Summer Programme.

During an exclusive interview with GIS News, Andre said this year the Adult Education Division is set to present various courses to the public at a cost of fifty dollars.

Andre noted that the programme has seen great participation in previous years and highlighted the division’s aim to teach skills that allow participants to earn an income.

“Last year we had a very good programme, we had a very good turnout of persons wanting to pursue different courses. This year, we are taking on smocking courses again because a number of women are [requesting] that course so they can learn to do the smocking and make cushions for sale,” the Education Officer indicated.

“We have been very successful in that we ran programmes in different areas where persons were able to make a living out of doing those cushions. Therefore, we are hoping that this year can be no different; we will be able to meet the needs of those individuals who really want to learn and they can do something sustainable.”

The Adult Education Officer appealed to individuals who are interested to sign up to attend the six week programme. High School students from the age of fifteen are also eligible to sign up.

“I am encouraging the public to come out and support the programme while we support you. We hope that we will be providing a service to people who really want to learn how to do something outside of their ordinary day to day activities.”

The summer program is set to end with a bang, as the participants will showcase their work via an exhibition open to the general public.

“We usually end with an exhibition because we want people to see what our adult learners are doing during the summer. I think it’s a way of bringing about awareness that people, even those who go to the office from 8-4, will recognise that they can learn a skill, do something profitable and perhaps even make some money,” the officer explained.

Some of the courses offered include tailoring; basic plumbing and electricity; cake decorating; flower arrangements; West Indian cooking; basic and advanced sewing; smock cushion making, pastry-making and interior decorating.

At the end of the program, participants will receive certificates of participation.

Prime Minister Dismisses “Poll” Reports

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Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has dismissed as gossip and rumor-mongering, reports that the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) commissioned a poll which revealed only eight sure seats for the ruling Party.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday June 4th, the Dominica leader, who is also leader of the DLP, responded to the reports which have generated much public debate.

The Prime Minister confirmed, “There was no poll conducted which indicated such.”

However, Hon. Skerrit said it was interesting that people would think that the Labour Party has only eight sure seats, particularly noting the seats which were counted as losses.

The Dominica leader indicated that although polls were conducted in select communities, actions were taken based on the results.

“From time to time we do polls. We would do polls in select constituencies to determine how a member of Parliament stands; whether there’s a change needed to be done in that particular constituency, what the people are saying [and] who the people are suggesting could be a good candidate,” the Prime Minister explained.

According to the Prime Minister, required changes based on poll results have been made and the Party’s position and prospects of winning its seats have been reinforced. In fact, Hon. Skerrit said DLP’s numbers have skyrocketed to surpass the last election poll results of 2009.

As testament to this the Prime Minister recalled the DLP’s latest rally in St. Joseph.

“You saw the rally in St. Joseph on May 5th,” Hon. Skerrit said. “You saw the extent of the support to the Party.”

Hon. Skerrit noted that while his Party is responsive to the needs of the country’s people, the DLP Administration has also been responsible in the management of the economy.

“Clearly, we are the only Party that has articulated a vision for this country; clearly we are the only Party that has a plan for this country. We have demonstrated our prudent and responsible management of the economy in very difficult times,” the Prime Minister noted.

The Prime Minister revealed, “There are countries which are talking about sending people home and they have sent people home; there are countries in the region that are talking about salary cuts and making serious adjustments to their budgets because they are experiencing challenges. We are also experiencing challenges but we also put at the fore of our management of the economy, our prudence and our responsible approach to managing the economy.”

The Prime Minister is confident that the DLP will maintain and increase its position in parliament whenever the elections are called.

“We are absolutely confident about this. We are strengthening our positions. Our Youth Movement is stronger than ever; the young people have literally taken over the campaign and preparing the Party for election. The Women’s Arm is well oiled and the Party branches are working and meeting regularly. They have indicated to me that they are ready anytime I am ready.”

N.E.P Brings Back Teaching Of Traditional Skills

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Government’s National Employment Programme (NEP) has ventured into teaching traditional skills.

Through the apprenticeship component of the programme, several individuals are gainfully employed while learning stone-cutting.

On Wednesday June 4th, Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit; the Hon. Employment Minister, Dr. John Colin McIntyre and the Hon. Senator, Alvin Bernard visited a stone-cutting project in Roseau.

There, 10 young men were learning this traditional skill under the supervision of Garvin Xavier, who has been engaged in the skill for over a decade.

Xavier noted that the young men were responding well to the training.

“Right now, I would say that we are getting along very well, working as a team; we are getting through.”

Hon. Alvin Bernard revealed that Government was concerned about the art of stone-cutting being lost.

“The skill of stone-cutting is something that we were anxious was getting away from us and so we thought that through the National Employment Programme, we could kill two birds with one stone by creating employment and training opportunities,” Hon. Bernard explained.

He continued, “We are providing this temporary employment and also enhancing the skills of the beneficiaries of this programme, so that they can move on into the world of work with newly acquired skills.”

Meantime, the Hon. Employment Minister, Hon. Dr. John Colin McIntyre said he is looking forward to the further development of this programme.

“I look forward to my Ministry expanding in terms of getting more young folks on board to learn and modernise this art, so that we can improve Roseau,” Hon. McIntyre stated.

The Minister is of the view that Roseau’s “old rustic aspect” should be maintained and will aid in the marketing of the city as one of the only capitals in the Caribbean with a river flowing through it.

In total, twenty young men are involved in learning this traditional art of stone-cutting; they have been divided into 2 groups.

The Minister noted that this apprenticeship project estimates at about $8000.

Portsmouth Youth Receive New Radio Programme

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Thanks to the endeavours of the Dominica National Youth Council (NYC), the young people of Portsmouth now have a new media platform from which to positively express themselves.

In an exclusive interview with GIS News, President of the NYC, Jahisiah Benoit, said that this platform, a radio programme called ‘Youth Can Move’, was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the NYC and Possie Vibrations.

“The National Youth Council is quite pleased to see its Media Team establish yet another media platform,” Benoit said. “It’s going to be another opportunity for young persons to get educated about sustainable development issues, to find out how they can empower themselves, to contribute to the work of the National Youth Council and to address and discuss pertinent issues.”

According to Benoit, many young persons in the north with talent in the multimedia field do not have the means to express themselves. Hence, he is of the view that the establishment of the new programme for the youth by the youth will allow for further development of their skills.

“For many of them, they will be getting to listen to some of their peers demonstrating the talents that they never knew before,” Benoit stated.

The NYC President further explained, “We are aware that there are so many activities taking place in the north, whether it be sporting, cultural or otherwise, and we feel that still to a greater extent these events are not being captured; they are not being highlighted.”

Benoit hopes that ‘Youth Can Move’ will serve as a platform for advertising such events.

He also indicated that the new radio programme is an ideal opportunity for new persons to get involved with the NYC Media Team.

“We established the team with 28 members,” Benoit recalled, “but we of course want to expand that group so that many more young persons have the opportunity to become empowered to develop new skills which can increase their career scope.”

The President of the NYC feels that the programme has the potential to survive where others have failed because of the youth’s motivation. Benoit attributed the support of the private sector, local organizations and Government institutions to this youthful drive.

“It’s organised as a truly grass roots initiative. I mean, you are speaking about young persons that are passionate about getting the awareness about youth empowerment out there,” he said. “Because the youth are demonstrating their willingness and their interest in this field, the private sector and the Government of Dominica have stepped in to support our actions.”

When the Media Team was launched in January, the Ministry of Information provided some resources so that the NYC could equip the Team to do its work efficiently.

According to Benoit, Government has also provided the NYC Media Team with two Project Officers who are employed under the National Employment Programme (NEP), a move which he said has proven that collaboration between the civil society, private sector and public sector is necessary to ensure the success of organisations such as the NYC.

“Once all three of these actors are working together on whatever project, be it youth empowerment or youth entrepreneurship, it has an increased chance of success and sustainability,” Benoit stated.

He encouraged the public to tune in to ‘Youth Can Move’ on Possie Vibrations every Monday from 6 pm – 7 pm, on frequency 88.5 FM.

“You want to know what the positive move in your community is, then that’s where you are going to get it; you want to know where the job opportunities are, that is where you are going to get that information; you want to know where the career development opportunities are, then you can listen to ‘Youth Can Move’,” the President highlighted.