The United Kingdom is still committed to guaranteeing up to £300 million in loans for the British Virgin Islands as it recovers from the catastrophic 2017 hurricane season.
That is according to Deputy Premier, Dr Kedrick Pickering following a bilateral meeting on June 12 with Lord Tariq Ahmad, the British minister responsible for Overseas Territories.
“Lord Ahmad confirmed that the UK Government remains committed to the BVI’s recovery and that the offer stands of a loan guarantee of up to £300 million … to advance the recovery,” Dr Pickering said.
Lord Ahmad to visit
Dr Pickering also said Lord Ahmad still has intentions of visiting the BVI in what has been described as a gesture of ‘support’ for the territory’s recovery efforts.
Just last week, Lord Ahmad reportedly bypassed the BVI and opted to visit the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Anguilla to meet with their respective leaders.
In an attempt to explain why the British minister visited other Overseas Territories but not the BVI, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said Lord Ahmad’s timing was ‘wrong for the BVI’ and as such, he went to the Cayman Islands instead.
The Premier never specified what made Lord Ahmad’s would-be visit to the BVI ill-timed and nor did he clarify whether it was Lord Ahmad who opted not to visit the BVI or whether local government requested the UK Minister not to come ‘at this time’.
The territory and the UK have been at odds since the British parliament passed the controversial public resister policy – an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act.
This resulted in a major protest in the BVI on May 24.
During his meeting with Lord Ahmad this week, Dr Pickering said he vocalised the ‘constitutional concerns’ the territory has expressed, as well as the possible negative implications the UK’s controversial policy will have on the territory.
“There are certainly strains in the OTs-UK relationship on the issue of public registers, but I welcome Lord Tariq Ahmad’s constructive approach to the BVI’s recovery,” the Deputy Premier said.
Other items that were discussed during the meeting include preparations for the 2018 hurricane season.
The Deputy Premier said he reaffirmed the territory will be ready for the peak of the hurricane season as work on shelters and other areas progress.
“We are of course still recovering from the rains and hurricanes of 2017, but all is being done that can be done to be ready for the 2018 hurricane season,” he told Lord Ahmad.
He then said Lord Ahmad pledged support to the territory during the 2018 hurricane season, which started nearly two weeks ago.
Dr Pickering’s meeting with Lord Ahmad is part of a wider high-level political meeting between the UK and its Overseas Territories.
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