VERBATIM COMMENTS FROM NATIONALS ABROAD
VERBATIM COMMENTS FROM NATIONALS ABROAD
These verbatims are selections from the replies to the questionnaire provided by nationals abroad. They are presented here to give a feel for mainstream thinking on the various issues, but equally important, to give a sense of the emerging issues that may turn up, the sort of seminal idea popping up outside the box. The material on Question 20 is quite a bit, in both the number of issues and amount of discussion. This was due to the fact that the question was open-ended and respondents took the opportunity to bring up issues that they felt strongly about, or they discussed the novel subjects that the question was also designed to elicit. Editing out too much of that discussion would not have done justice either to the respondent, or to the richness of the information, or to the reader.
Q9: What are your suggestions to improve Consulate services?
Reply1: Having an Embassy in Toronto and a Consul General from/for Dominica.
R2: Make mandatory the registration of Dca citizens overseas at Dca Embassies, Consulates, etc., so they can be accurately accounted for and contacted when necessary.
R3: Consulates should be public/gov't data and info depositories, and should help overseas promotions
R4: Issuing a booklet outlining available services
R5: We need more full-time personnel at the High Commission
R6: Locate the D/ca Consular Rep closer to Dominicans
R7: More communication, and make consular reps available locally
R8: Have a representative in the main city, Toronto
R9: An online service
R10: Better selection, training and supervision of staff
R11: Posting an ambassador or consul in Toronto
R12: More funding and experienced staff
R13: Access to Basic Gov't info over the Internet
R14: Full diplomatic representation in DC
R15: A Dominican consulate in Toronto
Q12: In what ways would you help in the development of Dominica?
R1: I hope to contribute to the committees that handle the carnival season festivities and also the Independence celebrations. These are excellent times when Dominica can showcase its best and take advantage of the opportunity to show this to the many visitors
R2: Maintaining communication amongst Dominican artists. There are many artists who have great talents up here who could help the various associations, but they are often not informed of ways that they can help.
R3: Become involved in government; conduct research and provide services with regard to health/lifestyle behavior, and other mental health issues.
R4: Sharing expertise, eg. workshops and other developmental forums, which encourage collaboration between nationals and those abroad.
R5: Supporting a particular institution such as a school or hospital in Dca.
R6: Help in the establishment of programs for young people at home.
R7: Develop sport on the island and spearhead Dominica's Sport/Tourism marketing,
Q16: What are your major concerns for retirement in Dominica?
R1: Availability in Dca of a Leisure and Recreational center and a Reading Materials room in the library.
R2: Fees that are now demanded when returning with cars, and other levies charged through customs. In addition, I am also concerned that educated Dominicans returning to Dominica will not be able to find employment on the grounds of being educationally over qualified. I believe that those making the choice to return to Dominica should be encouraged to utilize and share their talents. It would be a waste to have all these people return to their home island and not use what they have learned.
R3: Need available Housing, Health Care, Tax Exemptions of personnel effects whenever shipping personal items over a longer period that the current 3 months.
R4: Health care would be a major concern
R5: Availability of suitable land for building, and facilities/support services for the aged.
R6: Regulation on banking policy for mortgage loan lending
R7: Health care, crime
R8: Dominica being ruled by foreign nationals
R9: I need to know that the country will have a bigger airport, more employment for the youths, and quicker service, especially in the banks.
R10: Relocation costs of household effects, and building a home in Dca
R11: Crime and hostile attitude towards Dominicans returning from abroad and those who are successful
R12: No incentive for returning retirees
R13: Lack of progressive attitude at home
R14: How adequate will the standard of living in Dominica be compared to that which I have become accustomed to in N.Am; the quality of healthcare; and finally the ability to travel at will from Dominica
R15: Prices in Dca seem to be inflated for expatriates, something needs to be done
Q20: What are the other matters of concern to you?
R1: Roseau, Portsmouth are unpainted and look dilapidated; the Goodwill road is getting narrower and needs repair; 19th century open gutters in Roseau need covering; the Gardens need rehab (replant fruit trees, exotic trees - bue', ficus by office, etc); banks need to focus on Dca development; Dca's natural resources – hydro/thermal/wind energy, fisheries, etc. - need to be developed; Dca consuls in US/Can/UK/EU etc should help seek out investment for Dca, should be doing market and tech intelligence work for Dca's commercial and industrial sector; etc, etc
R2: It is estimated that there are 160,000 Dominicans overseas contributing cash remittances of about EC$80,000,000, and an unspecified value in goods and services to family, friends and institutions. There is need for political, social and economic development. Improvement in engagement and partnership with the Diaspora is potentially a key factor in further national development
R3: The one ward system at PMH should be abolished. People may be willing to pay for better facilities if they have a choice.
R4: Dominica has great opportunity and potential. Unfortunately, I do not believe resources are being fully utilized. Dominica has become stagnant and I would like to see greater awareness abroad about this beautiful island. The development of most areas in Dominica is ancient. When you travel across the Caribbean and you see the growth in the other islands it is quite upsetting to see that Dominica is not changing with the times. Dominica has a vast amount of land which could be developed and excavated. I mentioned the B.V.I. as a place to return to because there is growing opportunity there. They have found ways to build into the land. Dominicans would want to return home, however, with such a stagnant environment and economy, one gets discouraged and therefore looks for retirement options elsewhere. The world is advancing and if Dominica doesn’t change its present direction it will be left behind.
(i) Mortgage loans are too restrictive and serve to turn away Dominicans
(ii) The fact that Dominicans do not own their utilities
(iii) The state of the economy
R6: I am interested in assisting in Dominica's social and economic development through sports and tourism marketing. I have already begun to pursue these goals. Dominica needs leaders and decision makers with fresh, new ideas who are able to "think outside the box".
R7: The country must come to its senses and realize it is living beyond its means. Aggressive economic development measures needed but a consensus framework for local entrepreneurs, civil society and foreign investment must first be provided. Nationals abroad are an untapped resource but they won't decide to invest or contribute on emotion alone!
R8: There is a two tier price system - one for returning Dominicans and one for resident Dominicans. The service level given by all sources, banks included, is poor.
R9: I love my Country of origin and hope to be one day retired on the soil from which I was born. But Dominica will never move forward if they continue to administer the affairs of the country under the current system of governance. The old British colonial way of governance is archaic and has kept the Islands of the Caribbean back. We need to seriously consider major legislative change to the constitution to deliver [good] governance that is more realistic and more in keeping with our needs.
R10: The Mission in New York is vastly understaffed and this office can be used as a mulit purpose office to encompass the following departments, The NDC and the Dominica Hotel Association for which the DHA would have to contribute for its space.
R11: There must be a realization that the culture, climate, distances and complexities of making a living in a metropolitan country present many, many challenges to an immigrant. Any Government endeavor to better structure the delivery of services to Dominicans overseas should seriously address the challenges. For example, the collection of this information should lead to a mailing list and funds should be allocated to keeping the list up to date and using it to issue regular communication on Dominica on one hand, and on the other, information on coping with life in your new home. How about an annual "Dominica Abroad" award which could be publicized and would encourage the Diaspora to be more active in Dcan affairs. How about the formation of small groups dedicated to one particular cause - a school, the hospital, the Gardens, the library. These are more likely to succeed than a large group of expatriates meeting once a year to do god knows what.
R12: My family and I regularly return to Dominica for vacation, and for now, our plans are to retire there; but we are concerned, as are so many other Dominicans in this area, with the crime rate and the level of medical care available to seniors.
R13: I do not think that Dominicans who live abroad should have an input on elections in Dominica, as they do not live on the island, do not pay D/can taxes, etc.
R14: Congratulations to our leadership! Finally, to reach out to the Dominicans out here in an attempt to tap into resources that we can offer. With regards to purchasing government bonds, I need to see some sort of stability and have confidence in the decision makers. Our govt. is already off to a good start, and I believe, if next elections do not show otherwise, I will be easily won over.
R15: The evolution of the culture is apparent in the people, but the leaders are somewhat stuck in a diminutive, primitive era that seems to hold the country back on many, many economic and global issues. Our country's leaders seem unable to market Dca as a viable economy on a broader economic scale, independent of bananas.
R16: Within eight months (Nov. 2003 - June 2004) I visited Dominica three times for varying lengths of time. These visits were to serve a dual purpose. Firstly, I was looking for an appropriate location in which to purchase land to build a home and office. Although I was aware of a real estate agent and lawyers selling land, there appears to be a gap in terms of vacant land for sale and identifying who owns the land. This is very much dependent on word of mouth and who knows who. I finally made a purchase during my visit in June, but was also looking for property and land for friends who knew I was visiting Dominica. Many Dominicans, who I know, want to invest in Dominica and indeed have made many trips (which is a costly exercise) in an endeavor to make a purchase with a view to them returning to make a contribution to their country. Additionally, the financial institutions do not appear to cater for Dominicans wishing to return, i.e. Dominicans abroad appear to be penalized by the excessive deposits required by the financial institutions. The length of time it can take to obtain the Title for purchases made appears to vary widely. I am concerned that these anomalies are gradually eroding the desire of Dominicans to return home and would like to know if there are any plans to provide an enabling financial structure to encourage the return of skilled and knowledgeable Dominicans to their island?
Secondly, in June I organized for a shipment of 100 boxes of charitable items (donated from persons and institutions in the UK) to Dominica, none of which was being sold to the identified projects which had requested the items. I traveled to Dominica to ensure that the items reached the projects, which were identified during previous trips to Dominica. My concerns is about the payments required to enable the items to be removed from the Port - tailgate charges, customs charges, purchase of forms, etc. The Duty Free concession was given by the Ministry of Finance. As the items were not bought but donated, being given and not being sold, no profit was being made. All items were carefully detailed and it was proven that they were charitable. Many Dominicans tried to dissuade me from undertaking such an initiative because of the impediments I would face, but I was determined to keep my promise to the people of Dominica. My concern is about the efforts that many Dominicans would make to enhance the lives of those in need only to be met with bureaucracy. Are there any plans to make the system of charitable donations free from bureaucracy?
R17. Most of the concerns that I hear about from Nationals and visitors returning from business trips or vacation always revolve around “CUSTOMER SERVICE AND ATTITUDES”. That pertains to both visitors and local residents. This is a problem. Some of the locals tend to display a lot of complacency, animosity and vindictiveness and some of the visitors tend to be condescending and arrogant. For one to develop or to move forward, one has to be able to humble himself, sacrifice pride and compromise attitudes.
People who have lived abroad have a totally different approach when they spend their hard-earned cash. That cash commands a lot of buying power. Therefore business owners, especially in Metropolitan countries, will do anything “by any means necessary” to acquire that cash.
Also, spenders (especially foreigners) now put a certain value on customer service when spending their cash. It now requires more effort from the business owners to court these customers so that they spend their money at their particular place of business. Simply training the staff to greet customers when they enter an establishment - “Good morning, sir/ma’am, how can I help you today?” – rather than have the customer ask (several times) “Does anybody work here?”
On the other hand, you have salespeople who were/are not trained appropriately, with a culture of complacency and vindictiveness, eg. “who’s your family?” and so on, manning those places of business.
I think that the Government officials who pride themselves as being “Internationally Savvy,” and know quite well the requirements of customer service, should implement training programs for people who plan to enter the service industry - a sort of continuing education program.
R18: I am really concerned that the elderly in Dominica may be in need of our help in terms of getting hot meals to them, and assisting them with every day living; this I imagine would be especially true of the elderly in remote villages.
R19: The attitude of locals at home needs attention - education in all aspects of life - starting with politics, socialization, business ethics, religion, work ethics, culture & productivity, and communication.
R20: I visit Dominica twice yearly, and my concern over the years has been with the management and governing of the island. I personally do not think we have the right people in place and it would be in Dominica's interest to put aside politics and for a period of time, get a government of reconstruction with the best in each field to try to move this island ahead. I was appalled at reading on the internet the response to the reporter's account of the situation of the garbage dump as viewed from the cruise terminal at Fond Cole. This is the sort of narrow mentality which is restricting this lovely island's progress. Our leaders need to be more experienced and open minded than is presently being presented to allow us more confidence that the island can be moved forward.
(i) Internet access to basic Gov't info e.g. What duty free concessions are returning residents entitled to? Duty payable on items in excess of basics allowed?
property in Dca and found the fee structure much too expensive. Had to pay 11-1/2% in transfer fees – this
amt payable by both the buyer and the seller is too exorbitant.
(iii) Response time to requests for information via email/regular mail too long. My request for info from one gov't agency made 30 days ago remains unanswered.
R22: The number of times I've been to Dominica the place remains the same. I think, like everyone else, we need to have an international airport and do more for tourism. We also need to train people in customer relations, rebuild the houses that are in a bad state of repair, and put side walks so that it is safe for people to walk at nights.