During the latest budget address, Finance Minister of Dominica, Dr. Irving McIntyre, proposed significant changes to apply “a ‘National Reset’ in Dominica”.
Dr. McIntyre further elaborated that certain elements need be highlighted to understand the ‘National Reset’. He noted that this period of uncertainty has created opportunity in the country.
Some events he noted were s the Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters that are Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria, and the Russia-Ukraine war that triggered global inflation.
The global geopolitics has caused countries to work towards fulfilling support internally, as support is not accessible as it used to be. Climate change has posed a greater risk in the Caribbean region and should be a collaborative attempt to combat the impacts.
Dr. McIntyre highlighted five fundamental pillars, which are:
1. Effective governance
This pillar is essential for the ‘National Reset’ and for the following to be initiated:
- Improved government project and programme initiatives;
- Accountability towards citizens’ needs;
- Advance the Electoral System; and
- Transform the Justice System.
2. Public service modernisation and transformation
The Government of Dominica is required to improve relations with citizens and business practices. This will be achieved by the following:
- Improve service delivery to citizens;
- Improve current human resources productivity and efficiency;
- Develop interns under the National Employment Programme with advanced skills;
- Develop services and systems to become more digital; and
- Enhance public awareness and communication.
3. More focus on the productive sector
Allocate government resources to initiative to support growth of economic sustainability and increase permanent jobs.
4. Strengthen social protection
This pillar will focus on:
- Safeguarding the vulnerable locals, specifically the special needs and senior citizens of Dominica;
- Reform the education system; and
- Advance the healthcare system and prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
5. Improve financial stability
Dominica will reposition its financial position to address the needs of the local community and provide economic stability, with focus on the following:
- Reconcile public spending;
- Sustaining national debt; and
- Increase income.
Dr. McIntyre included budget proposals for 2023/2024. Based on the IMF estimation of the country’s GDP growth of 6.9% in 2021 and 5.7% in 2022. These outstanding percentages were achieved by an increase of construction projects and improved tourism and agricultural sectors.
Dominica’s estimated economic growth of 4.7% for 2023 which will supported by investments, agriculture, construction and tourism industries.
The Government of Dominica have recognised that more work needs to be done to reduce national debt, despite the numerous accomplishments.
Dominica’s fiscal year 2023/2024, forms part of the ’National Reset’ and taking into consideration of global economic uncertainty.
Expenditure estimates for 2023/2024
Dr. McIntyre proposed recurrent expenditure of ECD$639,6 million that was broken down into a table by each ministry or department.
According to the table, the largest allocation of 42.5% (ECD$271.9 million) is to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, Climate Resilience, and Social Security.
The second largest allocation of 11.4% (ECD$73.0 million) is for the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Social Services.
The third largest budget allocation is to the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training, and National Excellence with 9.2% (ECD$71.5 million).
Followed by the Ministry of Public Works and the Digital Economy with 8.6% (ECD$55 million).
Dr. McIntyre discussed the need for government social programmes must support the vulnerable, which include the Public Assistance Programme, Foster Care programme, amongst others.
The government will back non-government institutions that care for Dominica’s vulnerable.
In April 2023, the government passed into law five bills to protect the rights of women, children and the elderly, victims of domestic violence, and improve access to the justice system.
There are running housing programmes in eleven communities, where 344 homes will be constructed in the current fiscal year. Dominica’s healthcare system will provide advanced services with fully equipped hospitals for all citizens.
The country’s sports and recreation will be developed to promote health and wellness, and an enabler for sustainable development.
Dominica’s education system will be reviewed to swiftly adapt to international standards and equip learners and teachers with necessary learning materials to integrate into the digital economy. Schools will be rebuilt, including constructions of new schools.
Thousands more permanent jobs are created in the Public and Police service, which the government has implemented programmes to improve the livelihood of the Public Service workforce.
The Public Service will be restructured to develop quality and efficiency, which will be implemented in phases, including salary structuring being phase one.
The government acknowledged CARICAD’s team of consultants for their role in the review. Even though Dominica is relatively safe, improving security around the country will create much safer communities.
In the tourism sector, Dr. McIntyre, emphasised that the government is attempting to increase the number of stayover visitors, visitor spend, advance eco-tourism and increase employment opportunities.
Public Sector Investments
Budget allocated to this section include the productive sector, to create new permanent jobs and businesses, expand the economy and transform Dominica into a resilient and sustainable country.
These include developments such as the new International Airport; the construction of a marina in the next two years; agriculture to contribute ECD$700 million to the country’s GDP by the year 2023; developing the blue economy; and tourism.
Dominica’s tourism will focus on these key points below:
Visitor access to the country
The Government of Dominica are looking into exceeding visitors’ expectations, through training personnel and improve relationships with vital partners that can advance the tourism sector.
The government will use marketing initiatives to create awareness and attract its targeted visitors.
Post Covid-19 pandemic impacted the global economies; however, Dominica had indicated GDP growth of 85.9% in 2022, and a projected 13% for 2023.
In order to offer visitors unique experiences that are safe and easily accessible, Dominica’s attractions and activities will be developed and maintained accordingly.
Additional Public Sector projects include the construction of the world’s longest cable car; renewable energy investments; and the digital economy.
Revenue estimates for the fiscal year 2023/2024 are currently as follows:
- Recurrent revenue of ECD$1.06 billion
- Capital revenue of ECD$5.5 million
- Grants estimation of ECD$138,4 million
- Loans of ECD$94 million
The call for the ‘National Reset’ is necessary to acknowledge the global changes and challenges that have impacted Dominica, and to use this fiscal year to effectively achieve the goals in creating a resilient and sustainable nation.