The European Union member states have approved 7 million EUR (US$9 million) in Hurricane Ivan aid for the Cayman Islands.
Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin that approval, which occurred on 21 August, should clear the way for the aid money to be paid to the National Recovery Fund.
‘The matter has now been referred downward to the EU Commission for a decision,’ he said.
Such a decision is usually only a formality once the member states have approved something, Mr. McLaughlin said.
The matter has been set down for a decision by the EU Commission on 30 September.
‘Following that, and if all the financial agreement paperwork is in line, we can probably expect the first tranche of 3.7 million Euros to be paid by the end of October,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.
National Recovery Fund Executive Director Mark Laskin said he was overjoyed with the news.
‘That’s fantastic,’ he said. ‘This puts us over the top. We’ll be able to complete all the work on our schedule and then even look at [people who applied for Hurricane Ivan aid] who we’ve had to take out of consideration because they earned too much money, or because they had partial insurance or things like that.
‘We’ll have to see how many people like that we can help now.’
Mr. Laskin said the National Recovery Fund had only been thinking it would receive the 3.7 million Euros, which is usually the maximum the EU Commission will offer in emergency aid.
‘With our current constraints, we’re about CI$5.5 million short [of funds to complete the currently scheduled work], so the 3.7 million Euros would have still left us a little short.
‘With 7 million Euros, which is about the same as $7 million CI, we’ll be able to expand our scope to others.’
Mr. Laskin expressed some temperament in his excitement, noting that that he has heard that the National Recovery Fund was getting the money before.
The Cayman Islands have been attempting to receive the EU Commission ‘C-envelope’ emergency aid for some time.
Mr. McLaughlin spoke to the EU Commission about the need for aid at the OCT-EU Forum for Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union last December.
When he returned from Brussels, Mr. McLaughlin thought it might be possible to get the money by the end of December 2005, but alternatively thought it could come in February.
The Government thought is was close to receiving the money again in April after Sir Michael Jay of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote a letter to the European Union supporting the aid request and urging the release of funds.