EU aid likely

Cabinet minister Alden McLaughlin said Friday he was confident the Cayman Islands would receive at least some aid from the European Development Fund (EDF) for Hurricane Ivan relief.

That aid could come as soon as this month, but would more likely come after next February, he said.

Mr. McLaughlin led a delegation to the 2005 EU Overseas Countries and Territories Forum in Brussels earlier this month. While there, he was able to address the issue of Hurricane Ivan relief aid.

The EU administrators found Cayman’s National Recovery Fund trust agreement very professional, Mr. McLaughlin said.

‘They said it was exactly the kind of structure they want to see.’

Mr. McLaughlin said Cayman’s request for hurricane relief aid was precedent-setting in nature for the EDF.

‘There has never been a successful application for this kind of funding before,’ he said.

Normally, aid from the EDF was capped at 3.61 million Euros (about US$5 million), Mr. McLaughlin said, noting however that in exceptional circumstances, the funding can be doubled.

Cayman has requested the exceptional circumstance funding, he said.

Mr. McLaughlin said many at the EU Forum were surprised to hear about the extent of the damage cause to Cayman by Hurricane Ivan.

Mr. McLaughlin said he quoted ECLAC figures, which showed Cayman had sustained more damage than Grenada, Jamaica and other affected countries combined, and that the amount represented about one and a half times Cayman’s GDP.

‘They didn’t realise it was so bad, even though we’ve told them before,’ he said. ‘That’s why we have to keep hammering the point home.’

The timing element depends on whether the EDF has to look at the request. The EDF does not meet again until February, Mr. McLaughlin said.

‘Legal is looking at it to determine whether the EDF has to look at it,’ he said. ‘If not, there’s a change we could get it by the end of the month, but I’m not holding out much hope for that. Probably, the EDF will have to look at it.’

Regardless, Mr. McLaughlin said he was very optimistic.

‘I can’t say we’ll end up getting the 7.2 (million Euros), but I’m confident we’ll get a minimum of 3.6 (million Euros,’ he said.

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