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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 34 - Monday, December 30, 2002
FlagWhere Goes the New Year
by: Thomson Fontaine

Many in Dominica will be looking towards the extinguishing of the old year and the ushering in of the New. Indeed 2002 was the kind of year that we would all like to forget. The year heralded an unprecedented difficult period for Dominicas economy, tested its democratic institutions and tried the patience of its long-suffering populace.

In a post September 2001, the fledgling tourism sector was decimated, banana exports floundered and the country was plunged into a period of economic chaos, hardships, and uncertainty.

As the year wore on, there was an impending sense of doom and frustration, and massive public protests were narrowly averted. Crime statistics spiked sharply and many talked loudly of the breakdown of civic society, particularly among the youth.

Political intrigue continued unabated during that period as the opposition party sought to pass no confidence votes against the government and cracks appeared in the ruling coalition with the Freedom Party MP Frederick Baron leaving the coalition.

To the governments credit, and under the leadership of Pierre Charles, it faced the potentially explosive economic situation head-on. In an atmosphere of protests and public agitation, the government successfully negotiated an economic package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and secured financial support from friendly Regional governments.

As part of the measures to obtaining IMF support, government imposed a four percent levy on salaried workers, pledged fiscal discipline, and planned a major overhaul of the tax system. Now several months into the recovery program, there is a sense that the economy although not yet out of danger, at the very least may have stopped its maddening downward spiral.

While it is far too early to fairly assess the success or failure of the economic recovery program of government, the dawning of the New Year will hopefully provide a new outlook and rekindle hope that economic conditions can be improved, and the current economic situation turned around.

For starters, the year 2003 provides a unique opportunity to greatly increase tourist arrivals into Dominica. The peace and tranquility that Dominica offers amidst the darkening clouds of war and terrorist threats elsewhere in the world should be exploited. Events like the World Music Creole Festival and Dominicas quarter century Independence celebrations must be fully utilized in attracting Dominicans and others to its shores.

Within Dominica, creative ways must be sought to empower small business owners, create new jobs for the masses of unemployed, stimulate increased agriculture exports, take advantage of the resources residing within the Diaspora, and reverse the alarming rise in crime.

For the above to be realized, there must be willingness on the part of government, the opposition, and the public to close ranks, set aside their differences and work towards the goal of lifting the country from its current economic malaise.

Government must be given an opportunity to govern, and workers demonstrate their continued commitment to country. While the task ahead is not simple, it will be accomplished if the sacrifices that are called for are made, and people recommit to the noble task of nation building.

A country of 70,000 is a small number of people to adequately feed, house and guarantee a reasonable living standard. As a people who have learned their political history, we dare not revert to the period of divisions, self-inflicted destruction, and cheap politicking at the expense of economic survival and prosperity.

The Year 2003 therefore provides us with a new start, an opportunity to set our marks, focus our energy, and run aggressively in our effort to promote growth, reverse decades of economic malaise, and take our rightful place as a proud, determined and prosperous country.


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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 34
Dominica's Health Care Situation
Where Goes the New Year
Search for Place in Mystic Masseur
Well Done Island Son
Colored Ascendency in Dominica



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