Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Roosevelt Skerrit has said the phrase ‘Building Back Better’ which arose following the 1.3 billion US dollars devastation that Tropical Storm Erika caused to the island in 2015, should be more than just a catch phrase or popular slogan.
Speaking at the launch of the National Health Insurance Pilot (NHIP) Programme at the Fort Young Hotel on Monday April 3, 2017, he said this slogan “must be a creed”.
“Building back better will require sacrifice and enormous effort. It must involve the inclusion of traditionally marginalized sections of our community.”
Mr Skerrit said the passage of Tropical Storm Erika and the recently launched NHIP programme are therefore “joined at the hip”.
“Just as infrastructurally, following the passage of Erika, we pledged to build back better, so too, from that day in 2015, the stakes were raised with respect to the quality of life that we must aspire to in this country.”
The Prime Minister added that there is no point in building back a better physical infrastructure if the island’s social existence will not keep apace.
“I do not want to live in a country that has beautiful, well-lit roads, aesthetically pleasing and structurally strong bridges, a new hospital, a new airport, modern housing, affordable education from nursery to tertiary, but whose poor and vulnerable are not adequately taken care of,” he said.
Moreover, Mr Skerrit noted that the events of Thursday August 28, 2015 must be remembered as the point from which a new yardstick for measurement of development is set.
He stated that the resources of government are limited and if the goal of creating a fair and just society is to be achieved, ensuring the interests of all are taken into consideration, that needs are at all times placed ahead of wants is a must.
Building back better, he continued, must therefore involve the inclusion of traditionally marginalized sectors of the community.
“That is why it is important, I believe, for all to become familiar with and understand the size of the national cake that is to be shared among 70, 000 inhabitants. We have as a nation to acknowledge who needs help right away and who can hold strain a little longer. What each person is doing is important. The plight of each individual must be of interest and concern to us all,” Mr Skerrit said.
It is therefore imperative that programs such as the NHIP programme be accommodated in the overall scheme of things.
“Some persons may believe that their interest or their charge is of greater importance or urgency than another’s plight, but that is where common sense and good judgement comes in, that is where government has to reflect on all contending views and ideas and do right by all.”
“What is the point, I ask, of you personally doing better, if your pregnant sister is unable to access quality and affordable health care? What is the redeeming factor in your banking an extra $50 a month, but your little niece or nephew is unable to see the medical specialist he or she needs to diagnose and treat a life threatening ailment,” he questioned.
This he said is what “Dominicans signed on to 38 years ago when we fought for National Political Independence. Singing the National Anthem and reciting the Pledge is one thing, but stepping up to the plate and assuming national responsibility, is what is required, particularly in post-Erika Dominica.”
The national conversation which is needed is how resources are allocated and distributed to touch and impact the lives of all.
“Every Dominican is deserving of and entitled to a share of the national cake….and that is what should and must influence our thoughts, actions and utterances, going forward in this country,” Mr Skerrit stated.