Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has brushed aside critics of his administration's geothermal energy plan insisting that it represents the best hope for attracting foreign investments and improving the socio-economic well-being of Dominicans.
Addressing the inauguration of the Trafalgar/Shawford/Fond Canie over the weekend, Skerrit said that his administration remains convinced that the geothermal project would bring relief to electricity consumers and that it is unfortunate that critics are continuing to object to the project.
"My God, there is no way you can survive with the light bills you are paying in this country," he said, noting that bills were as high as $800 (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) and that it is vitally important for the government to examine ways of reducing the costs to citizens.
He recalled that when the geothermal energy project started years ago, there had been no major protests even when three tests wells had been built. He insisted that his administration is ensuring that there is no environmental impact on the country as it continues the project.
"The same people who told us we need to go to geothermal ... (and we are now on the) threshold of signing agreements with serious investors to finally take advantage of the God-given resources, they are now saying we should not have gone to geothermal," the prime minister said.
The Dominica government says it has already spent more than EC$33 million developing the geothermal industry, and last month assured citizens that their health concerns regarding the projects "would not be swept under the carpet".
Skerrit said the cost of energy in Dominica must be reduced if the island is to realise growth and development.
"Because our rate is among the highest in the Caribbean and therefore the hotels cannot run their plants ... because of the high costs," he said.
"We cannot have industries because they require energy to produce," Skerrit added.
"We are not saying that one should not ask questions. We are not saying one should not ask for clarification. We are not saying one should not criticise at all. What we are saying, why is the advice to the government is that we should abandon the plan after so many years ... when we are about to sign the agreement," he said..
"There are people who come here and tell you they like you, they want to come here and create opportunities ... but these are the same people who are making all sorts of efforts to prevent this country from getting where it ought to be," he told the village council.