Sunday, November 07, 2010

SVG-OECS leaders discuss damage

SATURDAY, 06 NOVEMBER 2010  KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – Leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)  met on Friday to discuss the damage done to the Eastern Caribbean by Hurricane Tomas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has said. Gonsalves, speaking on a radio programme where he sought to update the nation on the rehabilitation work being done here following Hurricane Tomas over the last weekend, said the sub-regional leaders were meeting by video conference to discuss the matter.

“When I am finished here, I will go back to join the discussions, I have someone holding on for me, “Gonsalves said.
St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines were hit by the storm, with Castries reporting at least 14 confirmed deaths and both countries estimating that the damage could run into millions of dollars. He told the radio listeners that he had met with a team from the World Bank on Friday and that apart from the seven million US dollars in emergency assistance, his administration had asked the financial institution to help deal with the coastal damage caused by the storm as well as some secondary village roads.

Gonsalves said that the island had also applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a 30 per cent of its Special Drawing Rights (SDR) that would amount to four million (US) dollars and that aa team from the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) was here doing an assessment of the damage caused by Tomas.
He said that the CDB is providing US$70,000 through a soft loan for emergencies and that a further US$250,000 would be made available to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) for assisting the National Emergency Organisation (NEMO). The Prime Minister said that his administration had also asked the CDB to provide six million EC dollars (US2.2 million) under the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF).

Gonsalves said that funds were also being made available to the island by Taiwan, Venezuela, the European Union, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as from Australia, Brazil and the Caribbean Development Fund. In addition, he said he had written to the governments of Libya, Qatar, Turkey and Mexico and that he was awaiting the return of the Foreign Minister of Venezuela to Caracas, who is also a senior member of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) bank so as to fast track the US$20 million that had already been approved for Kingstown.

During his broadcast, Gonsalves was critical of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) whose leader, Arnhim Eustace had warned the government not to overestimate the extent of the damage caused by the storm.
Gonsalves said that the damage assessments were being undertaken by foreign aid and financial agencies and local public servants and that Eustace’s statement had the potential to embarrass the country.

But Gonsalves told listeners that the island needed more resources in the efforts at emergency rehabilitation and “I will continue to go and ask for them”.