Remarks by Prime Minister of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, at a Press Conference at Clear Harbor
29th January 2014
First of all let me recognise Sir Brian Lambert, our friend Mr. Smith and, of course, our wonderful people of Clear Harbor and indeed the media.
This is no doubt very exciting news for Dominica and for the number of unemployed young people we have in the country. Clear Harbor has been with us for the last eight years; they have been exceptional investors; they have been very transparent in their operations and we have had an extraordinary relationship over the last eight years. When Clear Harbor was at the brink of losing one of its major clients they engaged us from day one. So it was not a situation where they literally sent people home and not informed the Government; from the get go they informed us. I must say to you that it took several months before Clear Harbor, in fact, took that decision. Though the client had left them they held on to a number of the employees to see to what extent it could keep as many of them as possible.
I will say to you publicly also that because of the commitment of Clear Harbor to Dominica the actual number of people who should have been sent home was dramatically reduced because Clear Harbor sought to keep as many of them as possible to minimize the impact of the unemployment situation in Dominica and also on the economy because Clear Harbor is, in fact, one of the major contributors to the economy of Dominica. As Brian indicated they have four buildings renting, three in the Canefield Industrial Estate and one the MARPIN building in town and one can appreciate the rent, one can appreciate the electricity, the telecommunication services and the other services which they procure from the island from time to time.
So we are very pleased to note that we will be receiving some 400 jobs; it is great news for us in Dominica and I wanted to be here to celebrate this announcement. I should have been in Cuba attending the CELAC Meeting but I cut that Summit short and came back this morning just to be here just to reinforce our partnership and our commitment to Clear Harbor. Of course, Mr. Lambert indicated last year they took back 60 of the 240 people who were affected and, of course, by July the additional 400 people would be employed.
That in itself is going to make a tremendous difference because the Government just launched a National Employment Programme where the Government has engaged a number of people, placed them both in the private and public sector firms, the Government is paying the salaries of those employed. So far we have close to 400 people engaged full time under the National Employment Programme and that will be extended to about 600 when we move into the communities and have community enhancement project and programmes where will be employment a number of persons in the villages.
One can appreciate the circulation of money in the economy especially in this present financial economic challenges which all of us in the region and indeed the world is faced with. Those of us who listened and watched President Obama on his State of the Union Address will understand the challenges and the urgency of taking action in addressing the issue of unemployment in the United States and, of course, throughout the world. This is going to place a serious dent in the unemployment numbers in Dominica and my hope and prayer is that those who will be engaged will treat their job in a responsible manner; you ought to come to work on time; you have to give to your employer the hours that you have been paid to work. It cannot be a situation where you get paid on Friday and because Monday and Tuesday are carnival days they do not see you on Wednesday or Thursday. It cannot be a situation where because the Quarter Finals of Calypso is coming you will go to this and miss work on Monday. Clear Harbor has to service its clients and if Clear Harbor does not service its clients it means, therefore, it will not be able to keep those clients and keep us employed.
So while Clear Harbor has been going out there to fetch the opportunities we owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves, importantly, to ensure that they can keep this 400 jobs, keep these good clients they have just contracted with a view to expanding and increasing the number of seats. I believe once we can supply them with numbers they are in a position to go out and negotiate for increase work so taking it to over 700 is a major plus and as Mr. Lambert indicated this will be an all-time high in the eight-year presence in Dominica.
As Prime Minister I have had very personal contacts with Brian and Mr. Smith and all the Principals of Clear Harbor over the years and I want to say publicly that they are, indeed, tremendous investors; they are very sincere, very transparent in their operations and they have engendered a, excellent relationship with the Government and people of Dominica.
I wish you all the best, Clear Harbor and, of course, like always I stand ready to assist in any way you would believe we can assist from the Government standpoint. Dr. McIntyre also who is the Minister responsible for Employment and Trade has been in regular contact with the Management and, of course, the Principals of Clear Harbor.
We look forward to a very long and beneficial relationship. I have been told by AID Bank that there are buildings available so space is not an issue, therefore, if you need more space let us know and we shall retrofit because we have done a fantastic job here in retrofitting this building to what it is now and in the next few week this building will be buzzing with emotions and murmurs and whispers because it will be filled with Dominican people. The salaries here are good; you have a basic salary and the opportunity for overtime so it is a matter of being diligent, showing up for work, doing what you are told and making your company proud, yourself and Dominica.
I want to again say how excited we are to be here and it is indeed great news for Dominica – 400 jobs at a time when people are cutting back; at a time when unemployment is rising we here in Dominica we have partnered with the private sector, in this case Clear Harbor, in reducing the unemployment rate in Dominica. I hope the Statistics Department can tell us now what will be the new unemployment rate among young people, I am sure it will be dramatically lower.
Thank you very much.