DFP Column strip
DFP Column strip

We are well on our way in our discussion on the kinds of sustainable development policies and strategies that the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) will pursue should we get the nod to govern this country once again. In the last article we began to discuss policies and strategies in relation to the economic dimension of sustainable development and we started by looking at our aspirations for the nation and the broad economic strategies. In this article, we begin to drill down to the necessary conditions that a DFP government will work towards to set the country on a path to prosperity and shared growth.

It must first be recognized that for much of the last 25 years Dominica's economy has lacked balance and stability, characterised by high unemployment and unsustainably high fiscal deficits (government spending consistently and significantly exceeding earnings) which led to rising and high public debt. Moreover, our financial sector (especially the banking sector) operations have been shaky especially over the last decade. Though natural disasters and other external shocks have undoubtedly impacted the country, the economy's lack of resilience has added to the imbalances.

Dominica has been kept afloat by a number of factors that in themselves reveal how weak the economy has become – remittances from abroad has propped up the economy; the trade in illicit drugs (including drug transshipment through Dominica) has supplemented the country's income; and the sale of passport has been a lifeline given the decline in agriculture, the failure of the tourism industry to mushroom and the lack of investor interest. But even with the significant flow of resources from the sale of passports, the corrupt and inept government has been unable to use those funds to create the base conditions for rapid economic growth to ensue.

Given Dominica's low income and savings, the country needs to attract authentic investors to our shores if we are to turn the tide and grow the economy rapidly. But while a few crooks may express interest in the dealings of a rouge government like the one in office at the moment, their dealings by and large, serves the self-interest of the ruling regime while the government gives the crumbs to the rest of the nation.

To attract authentic investors to our shores, it will be important to create a stable macro-economic environment. Authentic investors are not generally attracted to weak economies that are plagued by high unemployment and a corrupt and inept government that do not inspire the confidence of the investors that the country is on the right track.

In relation to macro-economic stability, the critical elements over which our country should have control relates to: maintaining sound fiscal operations; the stable and sound operation of the financial sector; and resilience in the face of economic and environmental vulnerabilities. All these areas have been mismanaged over the last twenty years and the DFP will set out to fix that situation. To contribute to creating a stable environment, a government must secure the financing necessary to facilitate the operation of a thriving and dynamic economy that will be necessary to significantly reduce unemployment and raise living standards. A number of fiscal strategies will be pursued by a DFP government to create the fiscal space needed to steer the country in the direction of prosperity. These could include, measures to improve the yield and efficiency of the tax system; measures to reduce waste and misappropriation of resources; better planning and budgeting including using performance monitoring system to improve results; and the better prioritization of expenditure. Importantly, corruption, which rubs the country of resources, will never be tolerated by a Freedom Party government that is led by people of integrity.

Increasing the yield and efficiency of the tax system would result in the government having more resources at its disposal to pursue strategies that could attract authentic investors - better infrastructure (including road and airports); training more young people in appropriate fields; developing a better health care system; and ensuring the adequate delivery of government services, among other areas. Measures to increase the yield of the tax system would include the elimination the corrupt, politically motivated and in many cases unstructured granting of discretionary tax concessions that occurs under the current administration. Moreover, a DFP government will review the tax system with adequate frequency to ensure that the system maintains buoyancy and remains fair; and these attributes will be weighed against the most effective tax structure to support the growth of the economy in the context of prevailing local and international environment.

Let us continue with this discussion on macro-economic stability in the next article in which we will expounding on some of the fiscal strategies mentioned above. We will also discuss in more details some of the desired circumstance for improving the stability of the financial system and fiscal measures for improving the country's resilience to natural disasters and external shocks.

Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party