Grade your Government
Skerrit's new administration is 100 days old; let's see how it will run the race
One hundred days later, one hundred questions asked in one hundred ways about one single issue: How did the new Roosevelt Skerrit government perform in its first one hundred days?
No longer blessed with a weak opposition the Skerrit administration is challenged to deliver on its election promises. One hundred days later, the man now responsible for trade, energy and employment says it ought not be about the first one hundred days.
"It's not a new government in the sense that the party has been in power for 14 years now. As far as I am concerned it's not about the first 100 days, it's a continuation of the government," Douglas tells The Sun. "I think the 100 days has significance if it's a new government, if, say, the UWP (United Workers Party) had won. I would debunk the first 100 days. It's not 100 days it's like the 15th year."
In any event, Douglas argues, the jury ought to remain out until the end of the fiscal year before delivering a verdict on the administration's performance.
But there are those who see things differently. Opponents insist that the government has already reneged on its promises. Even the so-called bribes, as paltry as they were, haven't been delivered, they claim. For example, the tablets which the prime minister promised would be given to students "come January 2015" remain a bitter pill. The education minister, Petter Saint Jean now says secondary and college students will receive these tablets some time during the course of this year.
The government critic, Athie Martin looks beyond the campaign and manifesto promises to what he describes as "the shameful trust of five more years." As far as Martin is concerned, the first one hundred days have been nothing but a tragedy, ranging from decays in the judicial system to septicity of the Church.
"In the first 100 days of the next five years you've seen the continued abuse of the judicial system by the officers of the court," Martin tells The Sun, pointing to the absence of an invitation to the former chief justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Sir Brian Alleyne, to attend the ceremony marking Dominica's accession to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
"I see growing evidence, certainly in the first 100 days (of) the criminalization of organized religion as the leaders of these institutions pander to the politics of gifts, privilege and power while ignoring the essential core of the teachings they were ordained to defend," Martin adds.
In strong, emotive language, the former agriculture minister talks about "the contamination of commerce," describing progress in business as "a function of partisan patronage rather than vision, creativity and hard work" and laments the "collapse of elements of the educational class", decline in agriculture and the erosion of social justice and truth.
"That is what is emerging for me as the warning signs and the sirens over the next five years," Martin tells The Sun.
This notwithstanding, there are those who see the administration fulfilling its moral mission during the early stages of this administration. For example, there's Parry Bellot who served as press secretary to Eugenia Charles in the 1980s, and who has become a Skerrit supporter, who sees Dominica's accession to the CCJ as something to be proud of. Bellot has also been able to find positives from the issues for which the administration is being criticized. Like the failure to deliver the tablets -which he blames on bureaucracy - and what many see as a bloated Cabinet.
"I think you can justify having this large Cabinet, and it really doesn't cost the country all that money as the opposition tries to suggest," Bellot says, repeating Skerrit's contention that a large Cabinet allows for more divergent views on critical matters. "The fact that he has again broadened his cabinet, bringing in of course, Robbie Tonge (the minister of tourism) - having the private sector represented is very good - and Mirium Blanchard (the state minister in the prime minister's office responsible for project planning)."
Blanchard was appointed to the Cabinet because Skerrit recognized there was a problem with implementation, Bellot says. One hundred days later, the critics contend, little to nothing has been implemented and the country can accept a lot more than one hundred excuses.