ANGUILLA HOPING TO GET 14 MILLION EUROS FROM EU DESPITE BREXIT
As plans continue for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, following last year’s Brexit Referendum, the Anguilla Government is still hoping that the island will receive the 14 million Euros as was previously negotiated.
A statement to that end was made by Anguilla’s Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr. Victor Banks. He was at the time speaking at the Government’s press conference on Tuesday, March 7.
He spoke to the island’s media representatives after attending the recent European Union/OCT Conference in Aruba. “That conference is responsible for discussions on the relationship between the European Union and the Overseas Territories,” he stated. “Particularly, the British Overseas Territories are in a period of decision-making. As a consequence, the negotiations that will be forthcoming this month, and beyond, will have to do with what the future of the British Overseas Territories – there are 14 of them – will be when Britain negotiates its arrangement with the European Union…”
Mr. Banks went on: “Obviously, a lot of the stuff that we discussed took into account the fact that we are still in the European Union and that any benefits which would accrue to the European Union Overseas Territories would also benefit us. We have been told clearly that the 11th EDF funds which have already been negotiated, and for which we have submitted a number of applications, somewhere in the region of 14 million Euros, are still forthcoming during the period that we are part of the European Union – until Britain’s exit. Those funds were already applied to us.”
Mr. Banks stated that the Anguilla Government, and the team in the Ministry responsible for Capital Funding, had been commended for the way they had applied for the funds. “Our area of focus under this EDF 11th submissions is for the most part, to do with Education and Education Development,” he explained.
“While we had those discussions [in Aruba], we were still cognizant of the fact that things may change and it was important for us, as a part of an organization called OCTA (Overseas Countries and Territories Association), which comprises all the Overseas Territories – French, Dutch and Danish -that the future of the organization may also be affected. With the leaving of the Overseas Territories from that organization, it would mean that there would have to be some other source of funding for us as Overseas Territories. That, of course, depends on what is negotiated by the UK Government.”
Chief Minister Banks said further: “We had the Ministerial meetings where presentations were made by the Administering Powers – UK, France, Netherlands and Denmark. They discussed their involvement in going forward under the OCTA arrangements because, eventually, they are the ones who will negotiate on our behalf…”
Mr Banks noted that the venue for the meeting was significant as it provided an opportunity for Anguilla to see what the Aruban Government was doing in terms of clean energy.
Meanwhile, in Aruba was Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Chanelle Petty Barrett, in the Ministry of Home Affairs, who attended a separate Conference on Sustainable Development, Ecological Systems and the Environment.
Speaking during the Government’s press conference, Mrs. Richardson-Hodge, Minister of Labour, commented on the building contract for the Anguilla Community College which was won by a Chinese company registered in Grenada. She said the company was offering to pay 60 EC dollars per day to unskilled workers and 120 EC dollars per day to skilled workers. She stated that the discussions were now at a standstill and that the Ministry’s position had been consistent with the bidding documents which provided for 10 US dollars per hour for unskilled workers and 15 US dollars per hour for skilled workers. She stressed that the Attorney General’s Chambers had given legal advice in support of the Ministry’s position. “The next step is for the Ministries of Labour and Education, as well as other affected parties, to meet to discuss how to move forward”.
In other financial matters, the Minister of Infrastructure, Mr. Curtis Richardson, spoke about a number of public sector projects under his Ministry. Among them is the planned complete refurbishing of the small jetty – at Road Bay – west of the Marine Police Building, now that the repair work is about to be completed on the main jetty. He also mentioned the planned construction of a new jetty, also at Road Bay, estimated to cost 8 million dollars.
Other Government officials at the press conference were the Minister of Health and Social Development, Mr. Evans McNiel Rogers, and the Parliamentary Secretary, Tourism, Sports, Youth Affairs and Culture, Mr. Cardigan Connor. Both of them spoke briefly on several matters relating to their responsibilities.