A House for Mr. Skerrit
Dominica Labour Party (DLP) spokesman Anthony Astaphan says Prime Minister Skerrit is entitled to the $32,000 monthly residence at Morne Daniel
Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton, says he is troubled by a June 9th 2020 Cabinet decision approving a monthly payment of EC$32,000.00 for rent of a residence building at Morne Daniel from Mercury Properties Development Ltd for Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
But Anthony Astaphan SC, the main spokesperson for the Skerrit-led government described Linton's comments as an "obsession."
"When is the Leader of the Opposition going to grow up, be mature and make sensible statements to the people? He is just obsessed. The Prime Minister is entitled to the house given the office he holds," Astaphan said.
In his letter Linton stated that it came to the public's attention that on or about June 9th, 2020, the Cabinet decided to impose on the people of Dominica the extraordinary burden of a monthly payment of EC$32,000 to rent a palatial residence at Morne Daniel for the Prime Minister despite the availability of the Prime Minister's official residence at Morne Bruce.
"The Parliamentary Opposition strongly condemns this morally and legally indefensible abuse of the authority of Cabinet. EC$32,000.00 is more than three times the monthly salary of the Prime Minister and more than the annual income of the vast majority of Dominicans. As Prime Minister for more than 16 years, you are well aware that Cabinet has no lawful authority for wasteful, uneconomical, bad value-for-money spending of public funds. You are also aware that based on established appellate jurisprudence, Cabinet does not have the unfettered right to spend taxpayers' money in such a capricious manner without public tender or competitive bidding," Linton said.
But according to Astaphan, four years ago in 2016, Cabinet decided to build a house for the Prime Minister, an official residence, with all amenities, but because of Hurricane Maria and other issues that was pushed back. Now that Government has found a proper place for the Prime Minister what was the issue? "Where do they want him to live? Should he stay stuck in the conference room of the President's House?" Astaphan asked.
"As far as I am concerned, this is another avenue for Linton to create friction and violence. If I was Leader of the Opposition, I would fully support the decision to rent the house and also build a house because it would be my expectation that after the next election I will be there because as opposition leader I want to be the next Prime Minister," Astaphan said.
Astaphan said that a Cabinet subcommittee headed by National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmore was mandated to look into getting a proper house for the Prime Minister and he fully supports its recommendation.
But Linton describes the cabinet decision as "unconscionable and a clear abuse of public office for the personal benefit of the Head of Cabinet".
"We strongly oppose the use of money belonging to the people of Dominica for corrupt, selfish purposes and demand an immediate revocation of the Cabinet decision to rent the Morne Daniel residence from Mercury Properties Development Ltd for EC$32,000.00 monthly," Linton said.
Should Cabinet refuse to reverse this decision that flagrantly contravenes the financial regulations for procurement of public services, Linton said "we (the opposition) will use all legal means and the rights granted to them by the Constitution of Dominica to have this matter resolved in the public interest".