Premier Donaldson Romeo
By Tanisha Christopher
Reporter at Radio Montserrat (ZJB)
BRADES Montserrat -- The government of Montserrat has enlisted the support of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission in its bid to have the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) re-examine its decision to drop Montserrat from its list of Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) beneficiary countries.
The bank notified the government earlier this year that Montserrat was no longer eligible to receive financial support under the regional programme.
The reason given was that the island’s per capita GDP position has improved, causing the island to be classified as a high income country.
Premier Donaldson Romeo, speaking on local radio in a special interview on Monday, said the director general of the OECS, Dr Didacus Jules, is now working with his government to make a case on Montserrat’s behalf.
Romeo said he intends to challenge the bank’s argument that Montserrat has made commendable strides in its development.
He says the island is still heavily dependent on aid from Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) and a withdrawal of BNTF funds would be a major setback to the economy.
“Clearly, for an island that has been 50 to 60 percent dependent on Her Majesty’s Government for the past 20 years, that is a clear sign that we have not grown,” the premier argued. “I don’t think it would be difficult for us to make the point to CDB, that Montserrat is unique and needs to be treated uniquely and I am quite sure that even Her Majesty’s government will agree on the importance of BNTF, because failing the contribution the BNTF makes, it means DfID will have to step to the plate even more to address the basic needs the [fund] has been addressing.”
Romeo says he has already written to the chair of the CDB’s board of governors, Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson of the Turks and Caicos Islands, to have the matter placed on the agenda at the 47th annual meeting of the CDB on May 24.
The premier also stated his intention to lobby the support of OECS heads of government when they met in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday for the 64th meeting of the authority.