EU Pledges Investments in Dominica
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ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) _ The European Union will invest $24.4 million in eco-tourism, agriculture, road construction and development projects in Dominica in a bid to improve the small Caribbean nation’s economy.
Prime Minister Pierre Charles and EU officials signed the investment agreement Monday, putting cash behind the government’s efforts to stem the island’s economic slide, said John Caloghirou, head of the Delegation of European Commission in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
Dominica, a small Caribbean island of 70,000, has budget deficit of Eastern Caribbean 81.4 million dollar ($30 million) and domestic debts totaling 217 million dollars ($80.3 million).
Aside from cutting the national budget by about 15 percent this year, the government has announced a wide range of austerity measures, including increases in fuel, sales and telephone service taxes, as well as higher fees for passports and postage stamps.
Seasonal drought and new world trade rules on tariffs and quotas have hit the agriculture sector hard in many countries, while the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States caused a sharp drop in tourism regionwide.
In January, Dominica’s government announced it had received a grant of 2.7 million dollars ($1 million) from the government of Libya. Charles established diplomatic ties with the north African country last year.