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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 21 - Friday, May 17, 2002
Dominica Faces Structural Adjustment
PM Charles Expresses Personal Anguish

by: Thomson Fontaine

In what he described as "a defining moment in the development of our small country" Prime Minister Pierre Charles in a radio and television address to the Nation outlined the fiscal stabilization and adjustment program that is being negotiated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Prime Minister indicated that the program is intended to stabilize the public finances, and to achieve growth. According to PM Charles, "the Government has laid out a clear strategy for economic recovery" and was counting on the support of all Dominicans in helping to build an economy that is strong, productive and viable.

The address to the Nation came weeks after continued speculation in the local press that the government of Dominica had agreed to the laying off of 10 % of its workforce (approximately 300 persons), a 10% reduction in salaries of public workers, and instituting a freeze on the hiring of new employees.

In his statement, the prime minister indicated that "government certainly does not want to implement such measures, and it is carefully looking at alternative measures". He went on to say that "if we do have to cut back on staffing levels and reduce wages and salaries, that we would end up doing these by less than the suggested 10%.

More to the point, we are hoping that we will not have to reduce salaries and wages at all". The prime minister also indicated that it was a cause of great personal anguish for him when his government is unable to meet its monthly obligations in paying public servants and in providing public assistance.

The prime minister was critical of the many persons who were using the current economic situation as a means of scoring "cheap political points". He was of the opinion that this was a problem for all Dominicans and not just government and it was important that Dominicans who loved their country play their part.

In explaining the reasons for the current situation in Dominica, the prime minister pointed to the sharp increase in borrowing at rates of 9-10% by the former administration, globalization, the events of September 11, blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATP), low manufacturing output and the demise of the banana industry as contributing to the current state of affairs.

In attempting to confront the problem, the government has set up a broad based Economic Stabilisation Consultative Group that includes the unions, private sector, religious groups and other elements of non-governmental society and chaired by the Director General of Finance and Planning, Swinburne Lestrade. The group will engage in discussion with the government on the way forward.

The Government is in the process of agreeing on a specific package of measures with the international community that will constitute the country's contract of recovery, and on the basis of which, international resources will be available to support Dominica's efforts. Currently, a team from the International Monetary Fund is in Dominica negotiating on the package of measures.

Volume No. 1 Issue No. 21
Dominica Faces Structural Adjustment
Rosie Douglas Foundation Donates over $150,000
Dominican Artist Exhibits Exquisite Work
The Roseau Cooperative Credit Union
Analysis of Events at Home
West Indies Cricket on the Rebound



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