The Antigua and Barbuda government says it stands ready to assist Dominica “by providing certain incentives” that would make the island attractive to Ross University, as the debate continues over the decision of the American medical school to relocate to Barbados.
The Antiguan prime minister, Gaston Browne, said in a statement he recognized the “monumental role” which the university played in the Dominican economy, and that “a move away from our neighbour would impact, even in the short- term, employment, foreign exchange earnings, and air arrivals”.
Browne said for these reasons his administration “stands ready to assist by providing certain incentives that would enable the hurricane-ravished territory to remain attractive to Ross University”.
These, he said, included lowering, or even to eliminating, transit taxes that university students are now required to pay, foregoing revenue that St John’s might have collected in helping to resolve in part, the challenge of airline connections for Ross University students heading to Dominica from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, or from any airport requiring transit into Antigua.
Earlier this week, the Dominica government said it had informed Ross University that it could have resumed operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January 2019 semester.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley has come under fire from certain sections of the Dominican population since she announced last Friday that Barbados had accepted an offer from Ross for the university to relocate here.
However, Mottley has denied there was anything underhanded by her administration.
“Barbados came into the picture, only when, for Ross University, returning to Dominica for the start of the January semester in 2019, was not an option. This is not and has never been a case of poaching or enticing anyone away from Dominica,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.
In a media statement last Friday morning, the Dominican prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, announced the university, which was established in Portsmouth in the north of the island in 1978, had decided to relocate because of the damage suffered by the country from Tropical Storm Erika in 2015 and Hurricane Maria last September.