Prime Minister of Dominica, Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit has told the nation that one should not measure the country’s growth only by new infrastructure. The Prime Minister delivered a rousing speech about patriotism at the National Independence Day Parade on November 3rd 2012. He highlighted a number of physical upgrades accomplished by his administration.
“It would seem that as a people, we may have fallen into the global trap of gauging and perceiving progress and development through the materialistic eye. In response, I could boast this morning about the great strides we are making on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the island’s main roads, particularly since the recruitment of local contractors to assist in the completion of the Roseau to Melville Hall Road project and the recently completed Edward Oliver Le Blanc Highway and the Point Michel Sea Defense Project. I could point as well to the spectacular State House currently under construction, or the continuing work at the community level to improve road surfaces, expand utility services and generally upgrade the living conditions of many of our citizens all over the Island.”
“Fellow Dominicans, were I to point to emerging designs for a new state of the art hospital, I would be applauded. I would be congratulated as well, if I spoke of the emphasis we have placed on early childhood education and our most ambitious goal to attain universal tertiary education; Of the enhanced learning facilities at the Dominica State College and the strides we are making at the primary and secondary level to prepare our children for the life that lies ahead. I could use this occasion, to remind you of the special fund access windows we have put in place at institutions like the AID Bank, the National Bank of Dominica and the Dominica Youth Business Trust for the nurturing of small enterprises or of our quick response mechanisms in the aftermath of hurricanes and storms, to assist in particular our farmers, fishermen and vendors. Then there is the record of the tremendous advances we have made in the area of housing, reflected in the hundreds of families who now own a roof over their heads, as a result of the enlightened policies of your Government.”
The Prime Minister spoke of his Government’s foreign policy and the benefits that Dominica enjoys because of it.
“Our progressive foreign policy has seen us establishing diplomatic relations with scores of countries around the world and developing very close ties with nations that have demonstrated genuine friendship and a keen interest in the forward movement of Dominica. Some of these countries are represented here this morning and I would wish to thank them once again for the continued support of our efforts.”
Despite all of Government’s initiatives for upward mobility, says the Honourable Prime Minister, he sees the advancement of Dominican people as “real” development.
“These are all areas of achievements that the Government could point to as reflective of the strides that have been made, even in the midst of the worst global economic recession known to modern man.
But, if I were to remain in this mode of material accomplishment, at what time would we as a people pause to muse upon our true blessings as a nation? When would we reflect upon our human development achievements, individually and collectively?”
“Dominica is today a country with a proud and unique identity. Within the last few years, we have made our way back into the West Indies senior cricket team...and I take this opportunity to again congratulate Mr. Shane Shillingford from Dublanc on his remarkable achievements, and for the pride and joy he brought to all Dominicans with his phenomenal performances during the recent home series.
I am also compelled to single out from among the list of ‘Dominica’s finest,’ another distinguished son of the soil, Dr. Lennox Honychurch, who was recently recognized by the University of the West Indies for his sterling contribution to our region. I wish to therefore congratulate Dr. Honychurch for the receipt of an Honourary Doctorate for the accumulation of his work over the years, in archaeology, anthropology and community education.”
“During my address in Nevis last weekend, I saw the look of astonishment on the faces of my audience, when I made mention of the fact that, in addition to Dr. Carissa Etienne being installed as the Head of the Pan American Health Organisation, the Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin Larocque, is also a distinguished Dominican. Shortly thereafter, one very prominent businessman in Nevis said to me: "sorry, Prime Minister, I actually thought he was St. Lucian.” What that told me, Ladies and Gentlemen, was that as a people and as a nation, we are not beating our chests loudly enough. We are not heralding enough the successes and achievements of our country and its people. As far as Geneva in Switzerland, Dr. Cleopatra Henry, another Dominican national, holds the position of Director of the International Labour Organization.”
The country’s leader went further to say that Dominicans ought to be more patriotic by demonstrating pride for what makes Dominica unique.
“The reality is that there are Dominicans holding citizenships of other countries and residing permanently elsewhere, who speak far more proudly and positively of this country, than some who reside here and who have nowhere else to go; whether life here becomes better or worse. Why are some of us not marketing our country? Why are we not boasting of our attributes and exploits? Why are we not speaking with greater pride about our own…. those among us who have excelled and are held in high esteem by the international community? I have had many overseas encounters in recent months, since the intended retirement of our former President, Dr. Nicholas Liverpool, was made public. I was amazed by the number of people, the world over, who knew of and valued the enormous scholarship and other personal attributes of our esteemed former Head of State. Dr. Liverpool is known, loved and respected the world over! He has flown the Dominican flag with pride and with humility. He has done well for this country.”