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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 58 - Friday April 29, 2004
The Local News in Brief from The News Desk

Roseau, April 30, 2004
DOMLEC Sold to US Management Firm

WRB Enterprises Ltd., based in Tampa, Florida, bought a 72-percent stake of Dominica Electricity Services Ltd., also known as Domlec. The U.S. management company made the purchase from the London-based Commonwealth Development Corp. (CDC).

DOMLEC was previously negotiating with the Dominica Social Security to purchase the majority stake in the company, but the deal unraveled after the World Bank discouraged the purchase, saying it threatened the government's plans to downsize it's budget to address Dominica�s chronic fiscal deficits.

In a widely controversial move in 1998, the United Workers Party government of Edison James sold government�s majority shares to the CDC. In the years that followed, electricity rates skyrocketed and the country was hit by numerous power outages. More recently, DOMLEC complained of making losses and tried unsuccessfully to raise rates in late 2003.

DOMLEC is the lone utility company on the island, and it was not immediately clear how much the sale was worth.

Grandbay- April 06, 2004
Ruling DLP Wins Big in Grandbay By-Election

John Fabien of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) was victorious in the Grandbay by- election securing 1,155 out of 1,408 ballots cast at the polls.

The former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health defeated his closest rival Frankie Bellot of the parliamentary opposition United Workers Party (UWP) and owner of Kairi FM Radio who polled 215 votes.

The other challengers Bonti Liverpool of the Dominica Reform Party (DRP) and Ernest Tavernier of the Dominica Progressive Party (DPP) collected 6 and 13 votes respectively.

The seat became vacant when Prime Minister Pierre Charles of the DLP who was parliamentary representative from 1985 died suddenly of an acute heart failure on January 6.

The DLP now has a slim one seat majority in the 21 seat Parliament, but have formed a ruling coalition with the Dominica Freedom Party (1 seat).The UWP holds the other 8 seats with one Independent candidate.

Less than fifty percent of the registered voters participated in the process.

Taipei, March 30 (Chinese News Agency)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has said that it will give an urgent explanation Tuesday morning following the Commonwealth of Dominica made an unexpected decision to sever its diplomatic relations with the Republic of China.

MOFA Spokesman Richard R.C. Shih said Tuesday while responding to media questions that the ROC established its diplomatic ties with Dominica May 10, 1983 and has actively helped the Caribbean nation to build its infrastructure as well as carry out various economic plans related to its people's livelihood over the past twenty years.

He added that T. C. Liao, ROC's charge d'affaires to Dominica, is currently handling the relevant matters.

March 30, 2004
The Wall Street Journal Comments on Dominica-China Relations

I was rather pleasantly surprised while reading the Tuesday, March 30 issue of The Wall Street Journal, to see our island home featured on the front page.

The bold and impressive move by Prime Minister Skerrit has certainly thrown our country into the glaring international lime light of politics, diplomacy and finance.

The Journal states that the Taiwanese President (who just won a controversial election in Taiwan) thinks that the China-Taiwan dispute is forever deadlocked. The article continues by saying that �in the eternal struggle, Dominica switched recognition to China, which dangled aid�.

What are some of the policy implications for China, the Straits of Taiwan, our island home, international diplomacy and the United Nations? Other than China committing to much needed aid to the island, the rest is unclear and uncertain at this time.

What is clear is that Mr. Skerrit has demonstrated very early on that at 'his turn at the wicket', Dominica will be taking a much bolder, more confident and also riskier approach when dealing with critical international and foreign policy matters.

Make no mistake, there is a new 'sheriff' in town and his name is Roosevelt Skerrit.

Specially Contributed by Michael Tate

Roseau - March 29, 2004
PM Breaks Ties with Taiwan and Establishes Diplomatic Relations with Mainland China

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt announced today that Dominica has officially broken diplomatic ties with Taiwan and has established official diplomatic relations with Mainland China.

The Prime Minister fresh from a visit to Mainland China announced that Dominica is expected to receive grant funds in the order of EC$330 million ( USD $122 million) by virtue of this action over a six year period.

He reported that Dominica have already received US$4 million. Projects targeted for the grant funds are the Windsor Park Stadium, the road from Roseau to Portsmouth, the Hospital and Human Resource Development.

St. Lucia pursued a similar move a few years ago and was rewarded with a cricket stadium.

Dominica have had diplomatic relations with Taiwan going back several decades and have benefited from technical support in Agriculture and financial support for the country�s education system.

Roseau - March 29, 2004
Dominica Through to Next Qualifying Round of the 2006 Soccer World Cup

Dominica�s football got a big boost over the weekend as the country triumphed over the Bahamas 3 � 1 in Nassau. The victory ensures that Dominica go through to the next round of the 2006 World Cup.

The first qualifier against the Bahamas ended in a 1 � 1 draw with Vincent Casimir scoring the lone goal. In the second game, Casimir netted two goals with Kelly Peters scoring one to secure Dominica�s place in next qualifying round of matches.

Roseau - March 29, 2004
Third Fuel Price Hike in Three Months

For the third time in three months, fuel prices have been raised at the pump. Dominicans now have to pay EC $ 8.45 (US $3.13) per gallon.

Trade officials indicated that the hike in price was necessitated by recent increases in the world prices of petroleum products.

Roseau - March 23, 2004
Permanent Secretaries to be Reshuffled

A local newspaper �The Sun� has reported that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is poised to reshuffle the positions of Permanent Secretaries.

According to The Sun, Steve Ferrol, the head of the Maritime Unit, is tipped to become PS Foreign Affairs while Irwin Larocque who currently holds that position will be moved to the Ministry of Tourism.

The current Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Dr Colemore Christian will be shifted to Agriculture while Dr Joseph Bannis will be moved to the Ministry of Health. Davis Letang who is the current Permanent Secreatry in Agriculture will take up the position in the Ministry of Community Development.

The Sun also indicated that Permanent Secretaries John Fabien and Eluid Williams have retired from the Public Service with Cabinet Secretary Julian Johnson expected to leave in the near future.

The newspaper further stated that Marcella Powell of the Ministry of Communications and Works is been tapped to head that ministry. In addition, Felix Gregoire, the Permanent Secretary in Education and Eisenhower Douglas of the Ministry of Finance were being considered for the Cabinet Secretary position.

Permanent Secretaries are in charge of the day-to-day operations of government ministries and once appointed they cannot be removed from their positions even when there is a change of administration.

Roseau - March 23, 2004
Another Mobile Phone Company for Dominica

Dominica will soon have a third telecommunications company offering mobile telephone services when the French company Orange Cariabe sets up operations on the island next month.

Orange Cariabe will join local company Cable and Wireless and American Giant AT&T in competing for mobile service subscribers.

Roseau, March 15 2004
Prime Minister to Visit Cuba on Jailed Students Behalf

Dominica�s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt has announced his government�s intention to visit Cuba to hold discussions with Cuban officials on the plight of three jailed students. The three Dominican students were sentenced to lengthy jail terms in a Cuban prison earlier this year after been found guilty of cultivating marijuana.

Roseau, March 15 2004
Dominica Labor Party Members Campaign for Vere Bird in Antigua

Cecicil Joseph the Mayor of Roseau and a top official of the Dominica Labor Party was in Antigua recently campaigning on behalf of the Antigua Labor Party of Prime Minister Vere Bird.

The Mayor was targeting the votes of the estimated ten thousand Dominicans who reside in that country. He warned that failure to re-elect Prime Minister Bird could lead to serious problems for the country, and that the opposition party did not have the best interest of the country at heart.

Prime Minister Vere Bird has been under increasing pressure in his country and political advisors believe that his reelection chances are in doubt as he faces a very strong challenge from the United Peoples Party of Baldwin Spencer.

Earlier in the month, newly reinstated Deputy Labor Party leader Ambrose George warned Dominicans residing in Antigua that the only way to guarantee their stay in Antigua was to vote for Vere Bird. He warned that Dominica could not afford to take them back given the harsh economic times that the country is facing.

Before becoming Prime Minister, Vere Bird�s father ruled the island for close to thirty years.

Roseau - Friday February 13, 2004
AT&T Launches Mobile Service in Dominica

The American company AT&T today officially launched its mobile telephone service to Dominica with a spectacular show involving local and regional performing artists and fireworks.

Dubbed ''Shock and Awe'' the display attracted hundred of Dominicans eager to hear of the company's plans for the local telecommunications sector once dominated by the British firm, Cable and Wireless.

The granting of a license to AT&T was not without controversy as a similar license was denied to local cable company Marpin TV by government.

Roseau - January 4, 2004 Government to Ban Hunting of Mountain Chicken (Crapaud)
The Forestry Division has announced plans to ban the hunting of the mountain chicken. The large land frog called the mountain chicken or crapaud in the local dialect is facing extinction largely on account of been infected with a bacterial infection called Chytridiomycosis. Government is currently working on legislation to place a total ban on hunting of the frogs. The succulent frogs are used in Dominica�s national dish.

Roseau, January 26, 2004
Dominica�s Public Service to be Cut by Ten Percent

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that the government of Dominica has agreed to reduce the size of the Public Service by ten percent over the next two years. According to the IMF, the government has agreed to reduce its workforce because ''the current public sector staff and service levels are consuming an unacceptable level of national resources.''

Dominica recently agreed to a US$11.4 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the international lending institution and agreed in principle in make huge cuts in the level of government spending.

Roseau, January 26, 2004
Gasoline Prices on the Rise in Dominica

Over the past sixteen months, gasoline prices have risen by more than 16.5%. Gasoline prices are now at EC$8.04 and diesel prices are at EC$7.16 per gallon respectively. Under a new pricing formula introduced in September, consumers now absorb all of the increases in the imported price of fuel. Roseau, January 26, 2004
Government Plans to Employ National Players who are Currently Unemployed

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced recently that local cricket players Shane Shillingford and Fernix Thomas will be employed by the Sports Ministry as cricket coaches. Off-spinner Shillingford and fast bowler Thomas are current Dominica and Windward Islands' cricketers who have been unemployed since leaving national high school and community college respectively. Skerrit said his government has a plan to employ several jobless national sportsmen and sportswomen with the two youngsters being the first recipients of the deal that has the financial backing of the Dominica National Lotteries Commission.
Read more of the EARLIER NEWS IN Brief

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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 48
Disturbing Shadows
History of Hurricanes in Dominica
Classism and Racism Appears Rampant
Must Attend Dominica Picnic
Dr Tavernier: Leader in Agricultural Policy

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