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Editor’s note:This article was published in the Editorial section of the Chronicle Newspaper on June 19,2009.

One should not believe everything one hears, especially if it is a rumour that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has assumed unofficial duties on Wednesdays as Dominica’s welfare director.

From his track record, it certainly seems that the P.M. is quite keen on the idea of turning Dominica into a welfare state. But it would be a bizarre expansion of this concept if Prime Minister Skerrit takes personal control of the distribution of the state’s largesse and holds weekly meetings with supplicants to decide who gets state help and who does not.

Most of us know that, in the strictest sense, a welfare state is one in which the government provides for the welfare, or the well-being, of its citizens completely. It is a state in which a government gets involved in citizens’ lives at every level and government provides for physical, material, and social needs rather than the people. The vast majority of the nation’s collective income goes to and is spent by the state, while citizens’ personal income and spending are kept as low as possible.

A welfare state spends expansively on huge state projects under broad headings like security, education, housing, healthcare and the like. It invests heavily in public services like transportation and childcare and social amenities such as public parks and libraries, focusing almost exclusively on goods and services for public consumption. This requires massive state expenditure, some of which is paid for by loans and grants from international donors while a large amount comes from taxes paid by individuals and businesses.

The concept of the welfare state is often closely linked to communist or socialist ideals. It is based on the progressive redistribution of a nation’s wealth by heavily taxing those who a particular government perceives to have too much wealth and income, according to its own subjective criteria; ostensibly to provide goods and services for those persons who the government deems to be underprivileged, according to its own subjective criteria.

The Skerrit administration clearly embraces development plan along the lines of a welfare state that involves the government providing the people with more roads, bridges and other state-funded projects, rather than leaving more disposable income in the hands of individual Dominicans. Maybe too many people have come to depend on Skerrit’s budding welfare state, and in an attempt to provide equitably to all petitioners for state help, the Prime Minister has allegedly appointed himself as the state’s welfare director.

One wonders if some people have come to the conclusion that the best way to improve their lives is to depend on the Skerrit government to provide state largesse directly to them, especially if they line up once a week to appeal to the supposed welfare director himself. If so, it would put the P.M. in a position to usurp the functions of a multitude of state agencies and mechanisms and dole out state funds according to personal criteria.

Ironically, a ‘one-person welfare distribution show’ goes against the grain of the welfare state in which government welfare is indiscriminate. One person should never have sole authority to distinguish between deserving and undeserving petitioners for assistance according to personal criteria. A single individual should never have the power to decide whether or not to provide state funds, and the level of state assistance to be given.

Rumour has it that P.M. Skerrit has turned himself into the state’s welfare director in order to create a personality cult based on some persons’ dependency on his personal distribution of state resources. But one should never believe everything one hears.

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President chavez visits Dominica Photo by Daylife

There is an ongoing debate among Dominicans and Airline Passengers as to whether or not it was good judgment by the Government deciding on closing the airports in Dominica to facilitate the visit of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on Saturday June 13,2009.

The closure resulted in many Dominicans as well as visitors were stranded – wondering what was going on before any word was given that their flights had been canceled due to security precaution for the visit of Venezuelan President Chavez.

Honourable Vince Henderson Minister for Foreign Affairs spoke on the Hot Seat this morning and stated that an apology had been issued Saturday afternoon on behalf of the government to those affected by the cancellation of Airline flights. He further stated that government will compensate those affected by the closure and will meet the overnight expenses of LIAT customers stranded in Antigua and Barbados.

But many Dominicans did not accept the explanation coming from the Minister, and thinks that closing the Airports was purely bad judgment on the governments part.

Question:Do you think closing the Airports was excessive and totally unnecessary? Have your say in the comments below.

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Undoubtedly frighten by the government, the Integrity in Public Office Commission appears to be no protection against the retribution for persons who have genuinely acted in the public interest.

It seems the commission is more concerned about the reputation of the persons who have been accused of corrupts acts than reports made by law abiding citizens on issues of corruption in Dominica.

Presently, most Dominicans will not risk victimization, losing their jobs or possibly incurring civil liability for exposing corruption in the public sector.

It’s obvious that the IPO Act has to be amended if it is to serve as an instrument in the fight against corruption. In addition, there is also the need for fine-tuning the system of checks and balances particularly in the office of the Auditor General and others key stakeholders, if we’re to become more effective in combating corruption.

If we do take these actions urgently, many of our regional neighbours including Dominicans at home and abroad will think that we are an immoral nation lacking the will to demand honesty and accountability from persons we have appointed or elected to take care of our business.

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