ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC ?
The opposition Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) has said that the US$166.4 million budget presented by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit last weekend fails to outline a ?clear strategy? for the future socio-economic development of the island.
?Rather than providing a strategy to build a diversified and resilient economy and so reduce our vulnerability this government has made us more vulnerable by making us more dependent on foreign aid,? DFP leader Judith Pestaina said.
She told reporters that while the party welcomed foreign aid ?it cannot and should not be the basis for making our people self reliant and independent, in control of their affairs and in charge of their destiny?.
?Aid is unpredictable and volatile. We should not make the security and welfare of our people dependent on the interest of foreign governments for when these interests change we are left in a lurch,? she added.
The DFP, which once governed this Caribbean country from 1980 until 1995, is not represented in the present Parliament. But it said it was also concerned about the increase in criminal activity, especially among young people on the island.
It said the budget presentation outlined no measures to deal with the situation.
?The Dominica Freedom Party would develop community parenting programmes which would help parents and communities to develop conflict resolution and anger management skills at an early stage.
The DFP leader said that it is important that the island is not left ?with a criminal sub-culture that will engulf the children of law abiding citizens and at the same time make life in the island intolerable with all its consequences for migration and economic stagnation.?
She said that her party, if elected at the upcoming general election, ?would ensure the maintenance of an effective law and order apparatus which accelerates law enforcement through a transformed criminal justice system.
?Trials must be swift and punishment certain but just,? she said adding that the opportunity must not be lost for re-educating prisoners ?for gainful employment and socially functional?.
Prime Minister Skerrit has hinted that the budget could be the last before Dominicans vote in a general election.
?There is work to be done that is even greater than the impressive work done over the last four years to significantly improve the quality of life of all Dominicans,? Skerrit said, adding that the New Year will be a period of renewal for his government, ?renewal of the mandate that the electorate so wisely gave to the Dominica Labour Party the last time around.