Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has hailed as “God Sent”, the more than
EC$1 billion dollar Caribbean Development Fund announced by British Prime Minister
Dave Cameron earlier this week.
Mr. Skerrit said “God did not come, but He sent Dave Cameron” to aid Caribbean
countries, grappling with sluggish economies and, in the case of Dominica, the ravages
of natural disasters.
“The timing of this gesture by the UK Government could not have been more opportune.
While we were not daunted by the task ahead, the reality is that these countries needed
a Generous Cousin, if not a Big Brother, to step in and assist. This Development Fund
announced by Prime Minister Cameron is the lifeline that several countries in the region
were quietly hoping for,” Skerrit said in an Official Statement today.
The British government is to invest £300 million in vital new infrastructure in the
Caribbean such as roads, bridges and ports to help drive economic growth and
development across the region.
Prime Minister Cameron announced the new fund on Tuesday in Jamaica on the first
leg of a 2-day visit focused on reinvigorating the relationship between the UK and the
Caribbean countries. It will make the UK one of the largest bilateral donors to the
Delivered in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, the infrastructure fund
will use money from the UK’s existing aid budget, to provide grants over the next few
years for a range of projects that will help boost growth and trade across the region,
creating jobs and opening up new market opportunities for British businesses.
The Infrastructure Fund will be available to 8 Commonwealth countries in the region
eligible for UK Official Development Assistance: Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, Dominica,
Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent & the Grenadines; as well as
Montserrat as an ODA-eligible Overseas Territory.
The initiative will help to fund upgrades to ports, new roads and new bridges – making it
easier for businesses in the region to trade with one another and with the rest of the
world. It will also benefit British businesses, who have the knowledge and expertise to
deliver the infrastructure improvements needed.
Dominica is fighting to rebound from the ravages of Tropical Storm Erika, which dumped
more than 12 inches of rain on the island; swelling rivers, triggering landslides and
occasioning flooding in low lying areas. More than 30 persons died, hundreds are
homeless and the country’s infrastructure and other physical development has been set
back by over 20 years.
Just last Monday, the World bank issued a report on the effects of Tropical Storm Erika
on Dominica, setting at just under US$350 million, the monies that will be required to
return a semblance of normalcy to the island.
Prime Minister Skerrit has been in the vanguard of an international storm relief effort,
and only last Tuesday evening, in an address to the nation, said the country’s vital
agricultural sector had effectively been wiped out, with hundreds of millions of dollars
worth of farm lands and equipment having to be rebuilt and replaced.
“It is against this backdrop that we welcome the announcement by Prime Minister
Cameron. This is not exclusively for Dominica, but we are delighted that we can benefit.
We are happy for other beneficiary countries, because developmental challenges have
been besetting small and large states alike, particularly since the global economic
meltdown of 2007.
“I look forward very much to meeting with officials of the British government and
garnering details of the operation of the Fund. But, the very fact that it has been
established, in the first place, is very good news for the Caribbean,” the Dominica PM