Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said his government will seek public input in the formulation of a ‘framework for support’ needed from the international community as the territory tries to rebuild after the passage of category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria.
He said the request for the framework has been made by Priti Patel – Secretary at the Department for International Development, which is the United Kingdom department responsible for administering overseas aid.
“Secretary Patel has asked me and my administration to put together a framework for support that is needed to rebuild the Virgin Islands that she can advance with other international development agencies. As we set about doing this, we will be looking for public input into such a plan,” Premier Smith said yesterday, September 27.
He underscored the importance of electricity restoration in the grand scheme of things.
“We know that electricity is an essential service to help us rebuild and to make sure our telecoms are functioning, businesses can open doors, and for residents to be able to get back to normalcy. So we have been concentrating efforts towards seeking out partnerships to get this essential service up and running,” the premier added.
He, in the meantime, noted the importance of financial support in the rebuilding process.
“My administration is working to foster real partnerships that can assist our development with our interest at heart. We know that we have our people who can get the work done, but we are also aware that we do need financial assistance for an effective rebuild. As we do this, I look forward to continuing dialogue with our community and providing opportunities for us to chart a new course for the Virgin Islands together.”
Premier Smith further noted that, prior to Secretary Patel’s visit to the territory, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson surveyed the damage and committed financial and technical support.
He also said he has ‘repeatedly asked all UK and appropriate government and non-governmental agencies for assistance’ in the following areas:
• Restoration of power and communications, and continued improvement of the security situation.
• Re-establishment of the criminal justice system, and provision of public services such as schools.
• A full damage assessment to provide a baseline for the recovery plan.
• Financial and technical assistance to build back better homes, capital assets and infrastructure as well as providing support for citizens and businesses to relieve hardship, improve living conditions, and support employment.
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