Prime Minister Gaston Browne Statement on The Ross University transfer out of Dominica:
Antigua and Barbuda has learned by way of the public media of the Ross University decision to transfer its operation from Dominica to another CARICOM state. Antigua and Barbuda recognizes the monumental role played by Ross University in the economy of Dominica; a move away from our neighbour would impact, even in the short- term, employment, foreign exchange earnings, and air arrivals.
For these reasons, Antigua and Barbuda stands ready to assist by providing certain incentives that would enable the hurricane-ravished Dominican territory to remain attractive to Ross University:
1. In helping to resolve in part the challenge of airline connections for Ross University students heading to Dominica from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and from any airport requiring transit into Antigua, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda stands ready to lower or even to eliminate transit taxes that those students are now required to pay, foregoing revenue that Antigua might have collected;
2. Antigua and Barbuda accepts that whereas no injury was intended by the other CARICOM country whose Government agreed to accept Ross University, the negative impact on Dominica nonetheless, should Ross University not return, will be monumental. There is every responsibility owed by Ross University to engage in a win-win outcome by maintaining operations in Dominica, while expanding and diversifying its market operations to an additional CARICOM state. The member states of CARICOM must also act to lessen the negative impact on our neighbour, to whatever extent governments find possible, primarily because these circumstances had their origin in a natural disaster;
3. Antigua and Barbuda knows the pain which the workers and other breadwinners in Dominica will feel because of the planned departure of the Ross University—a very significant player in economic terms for the multiple Dominican businesses which offer goods and services to the university’s thousands of students, faculty and staff. An economic downturn in Dominica coupled with the freedom of movement—resulting from the single economic space that is the OECS—cannot be helpful to the cause of regional integration. Antigua and Barbuda will do its part to assist the neighbour whose citizens continue in large numbers to make Antigua their home.
Antigua and Barbuda has never shirked its responsibility to extend assistance to the people and Government of Dominica in times of distress. Now more than ever, Dominica will require our helping hand.