The IMG received the Dominica Government Economic Program Performance for March and April, 2004 on Friday June 11, 2004 in an incomplete form.
Nontheless on Monday June 21, 2004 the IMG conducted its review in accordance with its terms of reference.
On Tuesday June 22, 2004 the Group made its final communication to the Honourable Prime Minister indicating that nothing had come to its attention which caused it to believe that Government did not take all reasonable actions and decisions in the economic and other circumstances which prevailed in the months of March and April, 2004 to achieve the performance targets and benchmarks of the Stabilization and Recovery Program for the fiscal year July 1, 2003 to June 30,2004 under the ongoing IMF Program.
The genesis of the IMG was contained in the 2003/2004 Budget Address of the late Prime Minister, Pierre Charles. Under the subhead 'The Way Forward' the late Prime Minister said: "Madam Speaker, one of the suggestions received was for an Independent Monitoring Group to be appointed. As Dominica enters a second phase of the Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF, the monitoring of Government's performance becomes even more critical. I will appoint an Independent Monitoring Group to include:
Justice Albert Matthew...Chairman
Dr Clayton Shillingford..representing the Diaspora
Rawlings Jemmot.. Unions
Kieron Pinard Byrne..Churches
Jerry Brisbane..Private Sector
Representative from ECCB (not always present)...."
The Prime Minister on August 8, 2003 appointed the Chairman. He appointed the other 6 members representing various institutions and entities on the recommendations of the institutions and entities. The letters of appointment state: 'Your appointment takes retrospective effect from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004'. The Prime Minister attended the Group's Inaugural Meeting on August 25,2003.
During its tenure the Group held 14 meetings. Besides the consideration of the monthly economic reports, the IMG dealt with a number of suggestions and recommendations from the Dominican Diaspora as well as e-mails and letters from individual members some of whom for the most part lived abroad. The IMG issued 9 statements to the media.
The Group had audiences with Prime Ministers Charles and Skerrit on 3 occasions. It issued 9 letters to the Prime Ministers reporting its observations on the Government's Economic Performance for the period July 1, 2003 to April 30, 2004.
In one of the replies to the IMG dated February 3, 2004 Prime Minister Skerrit took the opportunity to recognize the contribution that the Group had been making to keep the public informed of important aspects of the economy of the country. And in a follow-up letter written by the Financial Secretary on March 26, 2004 he referred to the meeting of the IMG on March 5, 2004 with the Prime Minister and senior staff of the Ministry of Finance and Planning. The Financial Secretary stated that the Prime Minister at the meeting gave a commitment to give consideration to the proposals of the IMG.
The IMG in addition to its main task as recorded in the budget address referred to above made a number of suggestions and recommendations for economic recovery and growth to the Prime Minister. These are well documented. Some of these relate to
Investment by Invitation Policy in order for Dominica to successfully attract foreign investment. To jumpstart such a process the IMG recommended the establishment of a Government/Private Sector Enterprise Development Council.
Taxation Strategies to promote and attract investment to Dominica as the Nature Island of the Caribbean to Botanists, Biologists, Oceanographers, Scientists, Accredited Nature or Rainforests Researchers, Writers on Nature etc.
Health and Wellness Investment Allowances.
Venture Capital Incentives to approved Hotels specializing in health, wellness, spa and customer services.
Agriculture, Manufacturing and Agro-Processing.
Motivating both Private and Foreign Investment for Development.
Reducing Imports of Unhealthy Protein Foods
Public Service / Reducing Public Expenditure / Reducing Debt.
Government should give consideration to the Integrated Development Plan. Submissions.
Rationalization and Coordinating actions for growth in order to get the real economy moving.
Building a modern, efficient public service as the centre piece of a new collaboration between the PSU, the Government and the Private Sector.
A poverty eradication strategy for Dominica.
recommendations from the Dominican Diaspora towards Economic Recovery
The IMG held several meetings with the IMF and senior officers of the Public Service and in particular the staff of the Ministry of Finance and Planning. On occasions the atmosphere was pleasant and cordial; at other times the Group was being looked upon as a humbug. Throughout the IMG received the monthly economic reports very late.
The relationship between members of the Group was cordial and during our deliberations issues were agreed upon by consensus and there was no occasion when a matter had to be decided by a vote. There were no storms or dissensions at meetings. It cannot be denied that on a couple occasions statements were made to the media by one or two members who represented particular entities who wished to voice their particular concerns but these concerns had nothing to do with 'monitoring performance under the Stabilization Program and in particular to help ensure adherence to performance indicators and benchmarks under the IMF Program'.
That being said Members of the Group were ad idem in their enthusiasm to see the country out of its economic mire. As is perhaps exhibited elsewhere some were more passionate about certain aspects of growth and recovery than others. Attendance at meetings were excellent. The Group lost one member at the end of January for business reasons and the representative of the ECCB could only attend on one occasion.
The Group understands the Economists to say, and we have no reason to disagree, that the stabilization of the economy is the forerunner to growth and economic recovery. The Group made its contribution to pre-budget discussions and was assured that its proposals would be considered in the formulation of the final document.