The importance of the cooperative movement to Dominica as a small island developing state came into sharp focus on Wednesday April 18, 2012 when Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit delivered remarks at the formal launch of a local commemorative magazine to observe International year of Cooperatives 2012.
The prime minister in his presentation noted that with a history of cooperatives for over half a century, Dominica can justly lay claim of being the pioneer for the development of cooperatives in the English speaking Caribbean.
The country’s leader told his audience that the cooperative movement has been an important economic vehicle which has been able to consistently provide a livelihood to families.
“We believe that the cooperative movement in Dominica both the financial and non-financial are critical to Dominica’s future. In terms of employment generation, direct and indirect impact on the economy the movement has had a positive impact particularly as it relates to rural areas. If we were to remove the presence of cooperatives in Dominica, one can appreciate the tremendous negative impact that will have on the way of life of several hundreds of families in Dominicans”.
The Cooperative movement has a sound background dating back to the 1940’s and has a current membership of well over forty thousand.
Prime Minister Skerrit said over those years the Cooperative Movement has been able to pay attention to non-traditional areas of business which is commendable.
“The Cooperative Movement has also allowed itself to focus on niche areas where big business would not want to get involved in. I believe that is commendable. I think it’s important for us to continue to provide direct and indirect support through the cooperative movement”.
Apart from technical support the Prime Minister said over the years the Government of Dominica has been able to put in place the necessary infrastructure to better facilitate the work of cooperatives on the island. The construction of gas stations across the country is one such undertaking.
“One of the most recent decisions we took as a Government in collaboration with Petro Caribe is that we have built several gas stations in communities across Dominica. We have built gas stations in areas including Fond St.Jean, Marigot, San Sauveur, Portsmouth and Scotts Head’.
The Government of Dominica has also over the years provided direct financial resources for the purchase of equipment and tools. In addition Government has granted cooperatives access to state lands at a cost of one dollar a year under lease arrangements.