Lack of EU funds hamper recovery

All new financing for repair work and rebuilds by the National Recovery Fund is on hold while it awaits EU C-envelope funding for post-Ivan housing reconstruction, first requested in June 2005.

Work on 17 rebuild projects and 125 repairs cannot start until the first draw down cheque of €3.7 million arrives, said the NRF’s Special Projects Officer, Aileen Samuels.

The setback is putting further strain on dozens of individuals still living in sub-standard accommodation more than two years after Hurricane Ivan.

‘We’re in a really awkward position here not knowing when the EU money is going to come,’ said Ms Samuels.

‘People are getting very frustrated as they’re getting the same response from us week in, week out.

‘I can hardly blame them, after all, it’s supposed to be emergency money,’ she added.

EU members’ approval of the €7 million (US$9 million) C-envelope came late last August. At the time it was thought that the first draw down cheque would arrive in Cayman in October 2006.

Current reports advise that the final agreement between all parties was made last month.

Huw Moses, a member of the NRF’s Board of Trustees, said that despite the delays the non-profit organisation still remained positive about the imminent arrival of the overseas aid.

‘We are quite optimistic, based on our current understanding of the state of the documentation and the outlying processes that are required, that we will be in receipt of the funds by the end of March… but the ultimate decision-making authority in this regard is the EU, as represented by the EU delegation office in Jamaica,’ he said.

The NRF’s Executive Director, Mark Laskin, said the organisation had already laid the groundwork for the EU funded work to begin.

‘As soon as the first tranche of funds arrive we are ready sign contracts and commence the EU-financed work,’ he remarked. ‘All the necessary planning approvals had been sought and granted.’

It is estimated that almost 1,000 families have received assistance from the NRF, which has so far completed 456 repair projects and 30 complete rebuilds throughout Grand Cayman.

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