July 4, 2020

St Kitts-Nevis not eligible for UK’s $550 million Caribbean aid package

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victoria_dean se_peninsulaBy Toni Frederick From Caribbean News Now

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) — St Kitts and Nevis is not eligible to tap into the £360 million (US$550 million) aid package that the UK government is gearing up to invest in the region.

The aid will be pumped into infrastructure initiatives in the ODA (official development assistance) countries: Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

St Kitts and Nevis is not ODA eligible.

“Being ODA eligible is not something decided by the UK,” British high commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Victoria Dean said on Tuesday.

“This is a global decision, set by the OECD – of which of course your country is a member – and it is based on income status. Now it’s a very controversial issue, because when countries do well and succeed and start to see strong economic development, one of the things that happens is they rise into what the OECD calls ‘High Income Status,’ and at that point as a country they are deemed to be doing well, obviously maybe still with some particular needs, but well enough that they no longer qualify for international aid of any kind,” Dean explained.

A guest on WINN FM’s Voices programme, the high commissioner said that the push by small island developing states for the ODA classification to be re-examined does not seem to be gaining much traction.

Dean said it was a conversation that she had been having a number of leaders around the region, and now that she lived in the Caribbean, she understood in a much more “real way” how vulnerable some of the islands are.

“So this is about small island developing states, and the argument put is that because of the small size, the small human capacity, and some of the vulnerability to… exogenous shocks – and really what I think we mean is natural disasters – that perhaps even those countries that have moved into ‘high income status’ should be considered differently anyway. It is not an argument that is gaining very much traction, I’m afraid, and I think there’s more work to do for the small island developing states themselves to really look harder at the case. It’s one that I have a lot of sympathy for, but we need to look across the globe as a whole, we need to look at where the truly poorest nations, and see if we can actually make the overall OECD analysis of high income status and vulnerability work, and at the moment there isn’t a strong enough case.”

The high commissioner said the advocacy of diplomats and others in the Caribbean influenced the British government’s decision to quadruple its aid to the region.

“A number of us, who are based out here in the Caribbean, have been putting advice back that says, ‘You know what? We’re not getting this right,’” the high commissioner told WINN FM.

“This is a set of relationships that matter to the UK enormously. We have deep historic ties, we have enormous people-to-people and cultural ties, and yet somehow we’re not as present here as we should be. I hear from a number of people that they feel that Britain has… ebbed away somehow, isn’t as present either as it used to be or should be, and we are in a position where we can just about afford to do something about that, and so it’s right that we do so now,” Dean said.

IMAGES:
British High Commissioner Victoria Dean
St Kitts South East Peninsula

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-St-Kitts-Nevis-not-eligible-for-UK%27s-$550-million-Caribbean-aid-package-27918.html

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