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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


Editor’s note: This post was guest blogged by Dan Tanner of dan-ruth-tanner.com

I received the following e-mail, which I have edited only to correct typographical errors, grammar and spelling, from a person whom I have never met and did not know:

Welcome to Dominica!

I would like to bring your attention to a problem that you and your well-intentioned Americans are causing for residents of Dominica and the Caribbean as a whole.

You and your US friends are causing the price of property on the island to escalate to the degree that locals are unable to purchase property on the island. This has happened in several Caribbean countries, most recently St. Kitts and Antigua, and has resulted resentment by the locals as you might well imagine.

We understand that given the exchange rate of the US dollar, Americans with incomes in US dollars can afford lifestyles far beyond the locals. Property that once sold for $300 EC dollars are now being sold for $300US. The average income on the island is $40,000EC. How do you expect locals to afford these prices? Is this fair? How would you feel if the situation was reversed?

Please convey to your friends and colleagues to be mindful of these factors when negotiating the purchase of property in the future.

Some welcome! But I wish to counter the assertions above.

First, I am responsible only for myself, not for other American. And, none of them are “mine” or “my friends”. In fact, I am not responsible for encouraging any other Americans to settle in Dominica. (I do know of some, who have found my Web site. One is a nice African-American lady. I write this because assumptions will be made about me. All I need do is show my face and strangers walk up to me and ask if I want to buy land!)

Second, how would I feel if the situation were reversed? Well, in some respects it is. I know of several Dominicans who came to the USA on tourist visas and have remained here illegally to work. Do I complain that they take jobs away from Americans? No. Do I inform on them to the authorities? No. Rather, I congratulate them on their industriousness and initiative. Moreover, consider this: They save up their pay and ultimately return to Dominica, and guess what – they purchase land often at a high price.

Third, where is the blame? As foreigners, we can’t build and live on land without title. Where is the only place we can turn to obtain such land? If you can’t guess, I’ll tell you: From Dominicans, who have often jacked up the price. Some have set aside tracts to sell as enclaves for foreign buyers. We spurned such land and sought land within a village with close Dominican neighbors.

We bought our small bit of land on a second attempt. On the first, the seller did not have title. When the caveat was published, so many claimants came forward that the low price we might have paid was insufficient to satisfy the greedy demands of those who had never worked or cared for the land as the seller had, and a price that might have satisfied them would have been unaffordable to us.

So, I can turn the writer’s demand to me around: Look to those Dominicans who are out to make a quick killing by selling land to foreigners at inflated prices.

We have and will continue to provide employment to Dominicans, and we don’t farm the small bit of land we bought – it has a floral garden to comfort us in our retirement, that’s all – but rather we purchase fruits and vegetables as well as eggs, poultry and fish from local vendors, and we deal with local tradesmen. We also plan to help by teaching lessons and skills that we have acquired in our lifetimes, as volunteers.

My own parents fled nazi terror and immigrated to America. Now we are older and retired. Were we to try and remain in America we would become dependent elderly poor. We are as victimized by economic forces beyond our control as surely as are any ordinary former working people – Dominicans or others – in the world. For us, Dominica is a haven of rest, peace, and affordability just as surely as the USA is the land of opportunity to Dominicans and others from developing countries.

We are equally victims right here in our town in the US. It was rural when we came here. In the 30 years we’ve lived here its population has tripled, the property taxes are up fivefold, and new houses cost about four times what we’ve managed to sell ours for. In short, we can no longer afford to live in the town that we helped build! And who was it who inflated property prices here? It was the locals with multi-generational roots, who then resented the newcomers’ wealth while they went after their money without shame.

Human nature and economic forces are the same everywhere. So please don’t blame me, another victim. We only want rest and peace and to love our new neighbors.

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Commencing January 2008, Dominicans should have some more money in their pockets. The Dominica house of Assembly unanimously passed the Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2007. The Income Tax Amendment Act makes changes to the current tax system, increasing the personal allowance from EC$15,000 to $18,000.

Beginning 1st January 2008, government’s intends to increase the tax free allowance threshold to $20,000 big ones, reduce the rate of the first $20,000 to taxable income to 15%, reduce the rate on the first $30,000 of taxable income to 25% and reduce the rate on taxable income above $30,000 to 35%.

Source – Chronicle Newspaper

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