As the general elections of Caribbean Island, Dominica are coming near, the political atmosphere of the country is rapidly increasing. Dominica Labour Party (DLP) which has a current government in power is being faced by the opposition United Workers Party (UWP).
These reds and blues are working hard to lure the votes in their pockets, but it seems that the red has a lot in its pockets because the DLP government has already gained a lot of popularity with its idea of giving free houses to those who lost their homes in Hurricane Maria.
Both parties are engaged in roasting each other on various levels. Parties are using various mediums to target each other. On the one hand, DLP has proved UWP to be ignorant by not helping people after the natural catastrophe Hurricane Maria and on the other hand, UWP has made allegations of money embezzlement on the DLP government.
However, the opposition seems to be struggling with proving their allegations on the party.
Let’s start in short, the island suffered two major calamities of nature, Tropical Storm Erika and category 5 Hurricane Maria, in 2015 and 2017 respectively, which had an enormous impact on the economy of the country and affected about 90% of the property on the isle.
A programme, Citizenship by Investment claimed to be vital for restructuring the island as collections from non-tax sources were estimated at $438.7 or 53.6 per cent of the total income of the country. This category is primarily driven by proceeds from the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBIP), which is expected to bring in $417.5 million in budget 2019 which was presented by the government on July 30, 2019.
The history is evident as higher the amount is, higher calculations and allegations will be there in the process. Following the same, the opposition, United Workers Party alleged Dominica Labour Party – currently holding the government – of embezzlement of $1.2 billion (East Caribbean Dollar) in the funds collected by CBI programme and used term “Where De Money Gone” to subside the DLP’s followership.
A senior leader of Dominica and Leader of Opposition Lennox Linton took the protest to the roads demanding an answer about alleged $1.2 billion. It is also important to mention that an international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers termed CBIP of Dominica as transparent programme and prodigious in terms of the development of Commonwealth of Dominica.
“Where De Money Gone?”
Back in the 1990‟s, two brothers in Antigua and Barbuda, going by the names of Winston Derrick and Fergie Derrick, formed a weekly publication, known then as the Observer by Fax, and which subsequently grew and developed into what today is known as the Daily Observer in Antigua and Barbuda.
Fergie Derrick sought certain concessions for the start-up of the newspaper and also concessions in relation to the development of lands, said to be owned by the Derrick family. Government permissions were slow in coming and therefore the Derricks, then supporters of the government, became agitated.
On or around that same time in Antigua, there was an issue relating to the audited accounts of The Medical Benefits Scheme. Medical Benefits in Antigua is akin to Dominica’s Social Security. A few red flags emerged, from auditing of Antigua’s Medical Benefits Scheme, and Fergie Derrick decided he would start a campaign, demanding greater accountability. So, he coined the phrase “Where De Money Gone?” The question appeared at the top of the Observer continuously for several weeks.
It started to gain momentum with the then opposition, led by a Dr Ivor Heath and which included the late Tim Hector, former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, current Leader of the Opposition Harold Lovell and a few others.
They drummed up energy around the country, demanding an answer to the question “Where De Money Gone?” because they claimed they could not see visual evidence of how certain monies, belonging to the Medical Benefits Scheme of Antigua and Barbuda, were spent.
United Workers Party’s propaganda
As elections of Dominica are approaching soon, the Opposition UWP was silent or bouncing small allegations on the government led by Dr Roosevelt Skerrit. After the presentation of the budget in the parliament, rather talking about the development or any policy, UWP took pace in chanting “Where De Money Gone?” to get back the focus on them by demanding the accountancy of $1.2 billion.
The comprehensive report which was created and released by PwC was disregarded by Lennox Linton and he continued to demand accountancy of the said money, which opposition leader alleged to be missing.
DLP leader and Prime Minister of Dominica Dr Roosevelt Skerrit also expressed that amount of 1 billion is half or one-third of the country’s budget. How can it be possible that money amounting $1.2 billion is missing and no one is having any idea where it went off. An odd fact is that Mr Linton is also Chairman of Public Accounts Committee and he is authorised to ask Accounting Officers about the missing money, but rather going officially, Mr Linton took a turn to make himself public in the matter to gain political mileage. Rather, he still can take the stock of money, if there is any, but he is going on hard to lash out Prime Minister of embezzlement in the huge amount of funds.
This thing seems to upset Prime Minister as he also mentioned in his recent speech that he did not want to talk about the matter but opposition’s proliferation of unaccounted $1.2 billion has forced him for counterblow.
There are several matters of attention as the island is on its path to re-build after the disasters, which includes free housing for the citizens who lost their houses during hurricane Maria, construction of road, buildings, bridges, precautious river wall defence projects and many others. But the election campaigns have taken the wrong turn to attack each other politically and ask for the imaginary money which will not help at any point.
Furthermore, in his recent public address, Prime Minister Dr Roosevelt Skerrit indicated that soon he will provide all the details of the CBI money. Now it is to see what next term will be taken by the political wave in the country.