From talk to action – Part III
Freedom Speaks Column
In the first part of this series we laid down several foundation principles out of which will arise some of our actions as we seek to lead the nation into prosperity.
In last week's article we noted that while, for the last two decades and more, farming has regressed in Dominica owing to the initial decline of the once mighty banana industry and due to the lack of good government stewardship, the Dominica Freedom Party wants our farmers to remain hopeful. We are determined to begin taking actions that are within our remit to work with farmers and entrepreneurs even though we are not in office. We are determined to start the process of leading the nation into prosperity. But for you, the farmers to benefit, you must hold on to your land; don't sell it. This is the first foundation principle – land is precious. As we pursue the big idea, land will be a major determinant of your prosperity. Let us now expound on that principle.
Some perceptive nationals from other countries who understand the gem that Dominica is are already positioning themselves by purchasing land in Dominica. Well-meaning investors are of course welcomed. But let us attempt to see what they see!
If we can see what they see many of us will hold on to our land. Many see great tourism potential but they also know that it will take a capable government to steer the country towards fully unleashing the country's tourism and agri-business potential. Some are speculating and are waiting patiently for that day to come! The Dominica Freedom Party will however commence its effort to unleash that tourism potential of our country even if we are not yet in office, but we want our Dominica people to be well-placed to benefit; and there is no better way to achieve this than through facilitating our Dominica citizens to be entrepreneurs and investors and not just workers. But with respect to entrepreneurship opportunities in agri-business and sustainable tourism, owning land will be a great advantage.
Some of our valuable lands with tourism potential are being purchased by perceptive overseas nationals. Lands with the most tourism potential are those in close proximity to the Waitukubuli National Trail; those with great views; and those in close proximity to other features of interest including beaches, beautiful bays, rivers and lakes. But given the lushness of the country, much of our farmlands also have great agriculture-tourism potential.
Part of the reason we want to do all we can to help our people use their lands in entrepreneurial endeavors is because we do not want our people (nationals by birth and descent) to become second-class citizens in their own country. To see the likelihood of this, we will need to take a closer look at who exactly is purchasing the land. Citizens by investment? Chinese nationals? Corrupt political operatives? Well-meaning investors? All of the above? We are not opposed to investment by well-meaning foreign investors, but our responsibility is to our people. It is you that we want to see thrive but we recognize that we have to partner with well-meaning foreign investors in strategic ways. But the truth is that we do not trust that the current regime will look out for the interest of our farmers and landholders. What agreement has our government reached with the Chinese government?
So here is our advice. First, don't just sell your land if you can avoid it. We are aware that sometimes financial pressures drive some persons to sell. But think of the payment you may receive for the land and compare that with how the land could benefit you in the future once a creative government of integrity is in place. Dominicans in the diaspora, advise your parents not to just sell their land. You too will want to be part of the great Dominica that will be created! Land owners work with your children and other family members to turn the land into gold.
Secondly, if you must sell your land, give priority to selling it to another Dominican with a special clause to ensure that they are not fronting for an undesirable purchaser. Also, ask our advice before you sell. Contact us and come speak with us – we will help you determine the true value of the land and the great potential it may hold for your children even if they are overseas.
Thirdly, instead of selling the land consider the following. Start farming the land – practice organic farming or work towards that. Lease the land to young people if your children are overseas and you are not in a position to use the land yourself; we can help to organize those arrangements. If you reside overseas and have land and want to lease to young people, let us know so that we can help organize that.
In next week's article we will discuss the potential for opportunities for earnings which the Dominica Freedom Party is keen to support.
Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party.