ROSEAU, Dominica: Roosevelt Skerrit was sworn-in as Prime Minister on Monday for the third time in six years.
Skerrit, who led his Dominica Labour Party (DLP) to a convincing 18-3 victory over its main rival, the United Workers Party (UWP) in last Friday’s general election, took the oath of office before President Nicholas Liverpool at a brief ceremony at the Office of the President.
“We have a government in place and my hope is that all of us will work together towards the development of this country,” said Skerrit. “We will look towards continued governance of the country with respect to all its institutions, laws and the Constitution of Dominica.”
Skerrit also announced that Attorney General Francine Baron-Royer would remain in her post and that he would disclose the full composition of his ministerial team at a later date.
Skerrit, 37, first took the oath of office as Prime Minister in 2004 when the sitting prime minister, Pierre Charles, died. He was sworn-in again in 2005, when he led the DLP to victory at the polls.
During the ceremony, Skerrit said his DLP administration would not abuse the majority it has secured by seeking to change the Constitution at will, having surpassed the necessary two-thirds majority needed in most instances.
“Notwithstanding the fact that we have 18 seats in Parliament, this government will never exercise that authority of going to the Parliament to amend any section of the Constitution without proper consultation with Dominicans the length and breadth of Dominica,” said Skerrit.
As Skerrit was taking his oath, his chief political rival, UWP leader Ron Green, was preparing to file a challenge in court contesting the defeat that he suffered in the rural constituency of La Plaine.
In response, Skerrit said he was hopeful that the defeated parties would play a role in the island’s development and that he would seek to ensure that all MPs have State-funded constituency offices, including an official office for the Leader of the Opposition.
“Let me extend a hand of friendship and goodwill to the opposition…we recognize that we need to work together to move this country forward. We’re prepared to work with them as we have sought to do in the last four and a half years and we shall continue to work with all other institutions towards the development of Dominica,” said Skerrit.
Skerrit said there were no immediate solutions to the economic downturn that the country has been experiencing, especially in light of what has been transpiring on the international markets.
“We are operating in a very difficult economy, a global situation where all the major players have been experiencing great difficulties over the last two years and from all indications that difficulty is expected to continue well into the second half of 2010,” said Skerrit. “Now, Dominica operates in that environment and therefore we have to be mindful of that.”
However, Skerrit said his administration would not “tinker” with the Value-Added Tax (VAT) and suggested that the opposition was “asking for trouble” by suggesting that the tax be slashed from 15 per cent to five per cent.
“None of you in Dominica would be able to get your salaries, the private sector will have to send you home because they would not be able to get business, the government will not be able to pay those businesses that it owes, the government will not be able to buy medicines for the hospital and so forth,” said Skerrit.