EU aid should come soon

The Cayman Islands could soon receive about $5 million in Hurricane Ivan recovery aid from the European Development Fund, Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin said last week.

‘We got some correspondence from John Calorghirou, who was one for the gentlemen I actually sat down with in Brussels,’ he said.

Mr. McLaughlin addressed the issue of aid from the EDF while attending the 2005 European Union Overseas Countries and Territories Forum in Belgium.

Normally, aid from the EDF is capped at 3.61 million Euros, but in extraordinary circumstances, that amount can be doubled. Cayman has requested the doubled amount, or about US$10 million.

‘There are still legal hurdles in relation to getting the full amount,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘They’ve never actually granted that amount of money for disaster assistance.’

Mr. McLaughlin said it has been suggested that Cayman go ahead with receiving the lesser amount because there are no legal hurdles in receiving that.

‘We’ve been advised to put in place the steps to get this money,’ he said. ‘We remain optimistic we’ll get that money soon.’

The money, when received, will go directly to the National Recovery Fund.

‘They don’t give that money to governments,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

Receiving the lesser amount will not preclude Cayman from consideration of getting the full amount after the legal issues are considered.

‘Rather than waiting for that to be resolved, we will try to get the [3.61 million euros] while they’re working on the legal issues in relation to the second tranche.

Mr. McLaughlin noted that the United Kingdom is supporting Cayman’s application for the aid, and that the Foreign and Commonwealth’s top civil servant, Sir Michael Jay, has written a letter supporting the request and urging the release of the funds.

Mr. Jay toured the island on his visit in February and witnessed some of the Hurricane Ivan damage left to be repaired.

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