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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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By year end thousand of Caribbean nationals will be kicked out of Barbados by the government. While making the announcement in Barbados’ parliament, Prime Minister David Thompson declared that the levels of illegal immigrant in Barbados were unacceptably high, and is increasingly difficult to control, posing potential negative challenges to the island socio-economy.

While I agree, that no country can tolerate an unrestricted flow of person into its territory, but on the other hand, I believe the policy of expelling Caribbean nationals violates the CARICOM treaty and united spirit it stands for.

Don’t forget that it wasn’t too long ago the heads of Government, including former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Auther attending the 18th Inter-Sessional conference in Jamaica in 2007, agreed of fully implement the Caribbean Single Market and Economy by 2015 and allow full free movement by 2009.

Now five months into 2009, the dreams of free movement throughout the Caribbean have proved to be a only pipe dreams.

When are these heads of government going to understand that disaster-prone, small and vulnerable islands like ours are not blessed with natural resources that can allow us to stand alone. If we can’t find a way soon to put our differences aside, where we can swim together, we will surely drown separately in this global crisis.

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Are Caribbean governments leading by example in these tough economic times?

That’s the question BBC Caribbean is asking in light of Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s decision to cut his salary by 15 per cent.

In Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning says his country is “more difficult to govern now”, and as a consequence, reducing his salary was not being considered. Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, responding to an opposition call, has said he will consider a pay cut by 10 per cent for his government.

But Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson thinks that pay cuts are not an option.

Recently Prime Minister Skerrit made an announcement, saying that his government is cutting down on number of public servants traveling aboard, in an effort to reduce government spending in this global recession. How ironic, when the PM is one the “public servants” who travels the most. But that whole other story by itself.

What do you think? Should Dominican leaders take a pay cut given the current economic circumstances? Have you say in the comments.

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