DFP political leader Kent Vital
DFP political leader Kent Vital

In last week's inaugural article for this Column we focused on our broad aspirations in relation to the economic dimension of sustainable development.

The Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), however, is very mindful that enjoying life is not just about how much we can earn (the economic dimension) though it is very important! it is also about being able to walk on the streets without fear of being robbed or verbally abused by others who in turn may be angry or disappointed with the way life has turned out for them. It is also about being able to raise our families with good values shared by the whole community and without fear of their exposure to recreational drugs and predatory sexual behaviours. It is also about being able to recreate in wholesome ways without fear of violence, use of indecent language and other abhorrent behaviours that keep many from participating in social events. It is also about enjoying public spaces including our beaches. Litter and graffiti in those spaces can take away from the experience. It is also about being able to enjoy shopping in our cities or going about our affairs without being harassed sexually, politically or otherwise.

Do you get the picture? You can add your own bit concerning what it takes to enjoy living within our nation (the social dimension of sustainable development). For me it hurts when I see people struggling! I enjoy life more when I see my fellow citizens doing well. Those who know me well know that about me! We in this re-energised Freedom Party will strongly promote shared economic growth in our land - for all irrespective of their political, religious or other social affiliations! This factor is very important for our people to feel that they are cared for by their country. This will encourage persons to engage in behaviours that lift our quality of life rather than engage in socially deviant behaviours.

But don't be fooled by the pretense that the current leadership of the Labour Party Government cares! People who care don't rob farmers and other hardworking Dominicans. How are people robbed you ask? That happens, for instance, when road and river dredging contracts are awarded corruptly so that such projects cost much more than they should. Without such corruption, we could have better feeder roads – for which our farmers are crying out! A government that cares about the welfare of the people don't sell passports corruptly, enabling money laundering, tax evasion and international sanction-busting activities that harm other countries! The resulting bad reputation for Dominica prevents the country from receiving development assistance to the extent that it could. Just ask the Government to indicate the amount of Hurricane Maria assistance pledges that Dominica has thus far received compared to what was pledged and you will understand what I am talking about! These officials have failed to care enough to develop and maintain high quality health care on the island but rather focus on corruptly amassing wealth for themselves! What happens when they or their close family fall sick? They use their ill-gotten wealth to send them abroad! The average Dominican can't do that!

The DFP recognizes that fostering a socially cohesive society – which is what we are focusing on in this article, requires engaging in good strategies. By social cohesion we mean the social glue that binds us together as communities and as a nation. We will undertake the kind of strategies that will cause people to feel invested in their country and to be loyal to it. For instance, our education strategies will be tailored not only to support the economic productivity and international competitiveness of the country, but also to allow all to have a fair chance at higher education as well as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) - all of which facilitate and enhance social mobility and community cohesiveness. A sense that the country works for everyone is greatly influenced by fair avenues for social mobility.

Strategies to foster mutual empathy will include those related to access to health care, the provision of social insurance, social assistance programmes that are well targeted and transparent, programmes to support better livelihoods, and those to promote decent work and pay. Creating a greater sense of belonging among our people must be supported by our housing policies, our cultural and sports policies and social inclusion polices alongside policies for shared economic growth. Housing in particular is very important, and our efforts will be to empower to access good quality housing in ways that preserve their dignity.

Policies in the various areas discussed above will also be designed to build trust, goodwill and fellowship among our people. Altogether, the goal of our social cohesion policies will be to make our nation a highly desirable place to live and work. Thus, more of our young people will want to return to our homeland after their studies abroad.

Next week we will focus on the broad aspirations related to the environmental dimension of development and in subsequent articles we will get into the details encompassing the economic, social and environmental dimensions. Stay connected to Freedom.

Kent Vital

Political Leader

Dominica Freedom Party