ST JOHN’S — Dominica’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Roosevelt Skerrit, yesterday, used a portion of his 2012/13 national Budget Speech to defend the island’s EC $8 million investment in LIAT.
Skerrit’s decision has been criticised by some sections of the Dominican public who think the money could be better spent on much-needed social programmes, health care and infrastructure.
Addressing the single chamber parliament, Skerrit said Dominica’s investment in LIAT was a strategic decision that will redound to the benefit of all residents.
“Dominica, specifically the tourism sector, is almost solely dependent on LIAT to bring the bulk of non French-Caribbean and European, particularly UK visitors, who account for 40 per cent of arriving visitors.
“LIAT is the only regular service provider currently connecting Dominica to the regional hubs of Antigua and Barbados. It is in the context of these facts that a decision was made to become a shareholder of LIAT,” Skerrit said in his two hour-long budget speech.
LIAT accounts on average for 70 per cent of visitors arriving by air into Dominica. And 65 per cent of all people who come into Dominica on a monthly basis are visitors, according to Skerrit.
He said the island could no longer continue to depend on American Eagle whose future in Dominica remains in “doubt” and LIAT is the only airline which has the type of aircraft and equipment to replace the service.
He said the investment puts Dominica in a position to make decisions that will improve the efficiency of its operations.
“It is our view at this time, that this is one of the best approaches to increasing the number of flights in Dominica and in a sense guarantee adequate airlift into Dominica and to guarantee a solid tourism sector.”
The Dominica leader disclosed that the modalities of the arrangement are being worked out and promised to keep the nation informed.
Dominica’s pledge in LIAT was announced last month but it has not been confirmed whether the first tranch of four million dollars was made as promised. (Antigua Observer)