The Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) on Monday 30 July 2018 announced its decision to withdraw from the current sitting of Parliament which will re-convene at 3PM.
A press release issued by the party’s general secretary, Nicholas George indicates that the decision to withdraw was taken for a number of reasons, including Prime Minister Skerrit’s “unexplained absence” from Parliament last week Thursday and Friday.
The Prime Minister issued a written request to be excused from Parliament to Speaker of the House of Assembly, on Thursday 26 July citing “urgent matters” but did not indicate why he would be absent.
Regional news reports on Friday 27 July indicated that Prime Minister Skerrit traveled to Grenada to hand over chairmanship of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) to Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell during the 91st Meeting of the Council.
The full statement issued by the Opposition as follows;
Roseau, Dominica, July 30th, 2018 – Members of the Parliamentary Opposition have concluded their contributions to the 2018/2019 Budget and will take no further part in the deliberations at this sitting of the House.
The decision to withdraw from the First Meeting of the Fourth Session of the Ninth Parliament was necessitated by a series of actions against the public interest at this sitting requiring urgent public attention to preserve parliamentary democracy in Dominica:
1) The Prime Minister’s unexplained absence from Parliament for the Budget Response of the Leader of the Opposition after the Prime Minister presented the 2018/2019 Budget on July 25th, 2018 and scheduled the Response for the following day. Having set the time for his Budget Presentation and the Response, the Prime Minister had a public service obligation to clear his schedule for full participation in the Budget Debate. The Prime Minister’s sudden disappearance on July 26th, 2018 is only consistent with his refusal over the years to be in the House for the Response of the Leader of the Opposition after which he returns to wrap up the debate with the most vile, partisan attacks on Members of the Parliamentary Opposition. The people need to deal decisively with this unparliamentary pattern of behavior.
2) The promise of the construction of an international airport, a cruise village and a container port in the 2018/2019 Budget Statement while there are no funds in Public Sector Investment Programme for these projects in next three financial years ending June 30th, 2021
3) The silence of the 2018/2019 Budget Statement on the future of the Ross University Medical School which is responsible for more than 30% of the economic activity in Dominica
4) The failure to report to Parliament on the 270 million dollars received through debt forgiveness from Venezuela as a contribution to Dominica’s reconstruction efforts following the devastation of Hurricane Maria
5) The failure to provide money for the construction of Emergency Shelters in Dominica
6) The return, in the 2018/2019 Estimates, of the 28 million-dollar discrepancy In Housing Recovery Assistance funding spotted by the Honorable Lennox Linton, in a Resolution passed in the House of Assembly on June 25th, 2018
7) The practice (confirmed in the Budget Statement) of one man awarding contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars without public tender and/or competitive bidding in flagrant violation of Dominica’s Procurement Act
8) The failure to provide in the 2018/2019 budget the money required by the Dominica Electoral Commission to complete a verification of the Voters’ List in preparation for free and fair elections in Dominica
9) The gross misconduct by Speaker, yet again, including but not limited to:
- A characteristically combative, vexatious, cantankerous and contemptuous attitude to Members of the Opposition
- Persistent nonsensical, obstructionist interference with the contributions of Members of the Opposition without any Standing Order objection from the floor
- Perversely selective application of the Standing Orders in favour of Members of Government
- Outrageously biased rulings in favour of Members of Government allowing them to do as they please to injure the character and integrity of Members of the Opposition with the explanation that the Standing Orders allow her to do what she wants
We have had enough of the Dominica Labour Party’s merciless assault on the principles and protocols of parliamentary governance at this sitting. We withdraw in order to bring public attention to a disgrace in national leadership and management that must be properly resolved if we are to move forward as a true parliamentary democracy.