Relief money deadline looms

The National Recovery Fund is working closely with the Cayman Islands Government to overcome the tight deadline imposed by the European Community on the EU grant that was issued to the NRF in mid-December 2008.

The NRF has already managed to negotiate an extended close date for the expenditure of all monies from 31 December, 2008, to 31 March, 2009.

However, this date still presents enormous obstacles to the NRF; the second half of the grant agreement was signed by the EU, CIG and NRF on 19 December, 2008. As per the new agreement, all works must be 100 per cent completed before 31 March, 2009.

This leaves a three month timeframe for completion of work in such areas as tendering, assignment of contractors, planning permission, land preparation, fill and survey work as well as all construction itself.

The EU funds can only be spent in repairing homes that were adversely affected by Hurricane Ivan in Grand Cayman in 2004 and cannot benefit Cayman Brac. The NRF is still actively trying to raise separate money for Cayman Brac and its residents through donations from individuals and corporations.

Mr. Mark Laskin, director of the NRF, stated, ‘While the NRF, Government and people of the Cayman Islands are extremely grateful to the EU for their grant, the EU agreements themselves have been a complex labyrinth of rules and restrictions.’

Although news of the approval of the grant was originally given to the NRF in December 2008, receipt of the first transfer of funds under the second grant agreement arrived on 5 January and all monies must be spent or returned by 1 April. The NRF is obviously working extremely closely and cooperatively with the Government to use as much of the funds as effectively as possible within the constraints. All funds under the first tranche ($3.9million) of the original $7.4 million grant have been accounted for to the EU and audited by PWC.