PM to Montserrat for OCT-meeting: Territories divide millions for small and medium enterprises

POSTED: 05/15/14 12:55 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams left yesterday for Montserrat to attend a two-day meeting of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council that was established in 2012. Montserrat’s Prime Minister Rueben Meade will chair the meetings that focus on European funding.

The Prime Ministers of Anguilla, Hubert Hughes, and the British Virgin Islands, Orlando Smith, will also attend the meetings.

“We will discuss the small and medium enterprise project for the region,” Wescot-Williams said at yesterday Council of Minister press briefing. There was no time for questions because the PM had to leave immediately after making her opening statements.

The SME-project is designed to strengthen the sector in all participating countries. Under the current EDF 10 Caribbean Regional Allocation over €50 million ($69 million) have been earmarked for small and medium sized enterprise projects in the Caribbean territories. At this moment it is unclear how much of this money will come to St. Maarten.

The Montserrat meeting will determine how the EU funds earmarked for the territories are to be disbursed in advance of a major EU funding meeting scheduled for Barbados next month.

The Caribbean OCTs will identify three project areas to present to officials from the European Commission at the Barbados meeting that will take place on June 2.

The Montserrat meeting is a follow up to last December’s Caribbean Regional Consultation on the 11th European Development Fund for the OCTs in Brussels.

That was part of a wider forum that addressed a number of issues pertaining to the European overseas countries and territories.

Coming out of the Brussels discussions regional financial allocations were set for the OCTS.

In the Caribbean these OCTs are the British dependencies of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands and Montserrat; the Dutch overseas kingdom partners of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St Eustatius and St Maarten; and the French territory St Barth’s.

The Caribbean is home to twelve OCTs – five British, six Dutch and one French. Guadeloupe, Martinique, French St Martin and Guyana are not OCTS but Departmentes Outre Mers or DOMS.

The OCTS benefit from EU funding and other resources under the European Development Fund (EDF).

The goal of the Caribbean OCT regional program is to foster cooperation among OCTs of the same region and which share a similar set of challenges and priorities.

Wescot-Williams said that the areas in which the OCT’s are seeking cooperation under the 11th EDF are food security, capacity building, waste management, health, tourism, renewable energy, blending facilities to promote investment, access and fishing.



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