Attracting local and Foreign Investments (Part V)
Over the last four articles we have been discussing the importance of investment for fostering a prosperous country and the kind of enabling environment needed to attract investments. Given low national income and limited domestic savings, attracting foreign investment is an important development strategy for Dominica. Several of the actions that we have discussed thus far about what a Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) government would do to attract investments, are particularly important for encouraging foreign investments.
In determining whether to invest in a jurisdiction, beyond what we have already discussed in previous articles including adequate infrastructure, foreign investors also consider the availability of skills. There are several considerations in determining the types of skills that should be encouraged by a government, but clearly skills that could be utilized in areas where a country can enhance its international competitive advantage would be important. For instance, efforts in our country to attract investments in geothermal energy and in water extraction and export, should include training engineers, geologists and other relevant skills that potential investors could utilize. Consider also what it would take to develop a unique and successful tourism industry in our country. Developing an array of skill sets including that in culinary arts would be advantageous in that regard.
Some investors directly require generalized skill and persons that are trainable. Others will need to access skills outside of their organizations including vocational skills such as welding and metal fabrication. The ample availability of skills is thus a boon for attracting investments. All this point to the need to tailor our education system and strategy to generate skills that are relevant for the development of the economy and this will be a major pursuit of a DFP government.
Moreover, foreign investors need access to financial services especially that related to the transfer of funds into and out of the jurisdiction. Investors will stay away if this becomes too difficult! But Dominica has been losing access to international financial services as a result of efforts by the USA and other OECD countries to combat money laundering, tax evasion, and the financing of terrorist activities. Tighter regulations in that regard are leading banks in those counties to cut corresponding banking relations with banks in other countries especially those countries that are placed on negative list.
Dominica has found itself on some of those lists and it is already hurting the country badly and it could get worst if OECD counties continue to see Dominica as a wayward country – a reputation we have gotten under the administration lead by Prime Minister Skerrit. With integrity in public office as our mantra, the DFP is certainly ready to reverse this reputation and we will work with other regional governments to preserve and enhance our access to international financial services which is critical to attracting foreign investors.
But this issue is also critical even for preserving the ability of ordinary Dominicans to engage in foreign transactions. For instance, it may become difficult for Dominicans living abroad to send money to their families here at home, or for parent to send money to their children studying abroad. This is a serious matter, the resolution of which can't be left to the Skerrit-led administration. Europe and OECD countries simply have too many questions over that administration!
There are also many other factors that can make or break a foreign investor's decision to locate in a country. This includes matters such as access to adequate health care and basic education given their importance to facilitate the investor representatives of foreign nationality. The DFP understands very well that it will have to immediately move to restore and improve the soundness of our health and education system for the sake of our own people, but with the added benefit that it would make our country more attractive to investors. We lament how we have regressed under the administration led by Roosevelt Skerrit.
Some general factors such as attractive living conditions, the cleanliness and tidiness of our built areas, the hospitality of our people and the availability of business services can be added advantages for attracting foreign investments, especially given that our reputation can precede us! Our current government don't seem to understand these things and that there needs to be active efforts by government to guide the country in the desired direction.
But, while it is strategically important to attract foreign investments at this point in the development of our nation, empowering our people to invest in their homeland is the most powerful tool that we can use to foster the prosperity of our people and their economic dignity – and that will be one of the greatest areas of focus of a DFP Government. As for that matter, we encourage all political parties to adopt this as a "cornerstone" strategy.
In the next article, we will highlight some of the important efforts that a DFP government would make in that regard. Stay tuned. Let's go places with Freedom.
Dominica Freedom Party.