ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – The Dominica government has reiterated its position that it will not support the use of scarce financial funds to introduce voter identification cards for citizens.
But Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said that his administration is prepared to pay the four million (EC) dollars (US$1.48 million) for the a national identification card which he said could also serve as a voter ID card.
The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has been calling on the government to introduce the voter ID card as a means of ensuring free and fair elections in the country, but Skerrit said the issue is still before his Cabinet.
“The Cabinet has been engaging the Electoral Commission through his Excellency the President (N.J. Liverpool) to clarify certain matters with respect to voter identification cards.
“We have said very clearly and we are not pulling back on it on that position, that the government will not spend four million dollars on a voter ID card. The government is prepared to fetch the money, though we do not have it, but to introduce a national ID card which we believe can be used as a voter ID card,” Skerrit said.
He said the Commission would be mandated to “manage the issuance of the national ID card.
“We are not going to spend four million dollars in this very economic difficult time when vendors and bus drivers and taxi operators and tour guides will not be earning a salary for three-four months because there are no cruise ships coming to the country at this time.
“We are not going to spend four million dollars when the same people are saying that the farmers need more money, the fishermen need more money, we need to improve on the schools and education and healthcare,” Skerrit said, noting that nationals had to travel to Barbados for health care at significant high costs.
“We will have no problem with a national ID card which can be used for other purposes, but in respect of solely for voter ID cards we will not going to spend four million dollars on it,” he added.