Some hard truths are sinking in less than a week after the international community pledged more than U.S. $2 billion in grants, loans and debt relief to help rebuild hurricane-hit Caribbean islands.
Chief among those is that Antigua and Barbuda will most likely not be a major recipient of the grant assistance.
Information coming out of Tuesday’s CARICOM-U.N. High Level Pledging Conference in New York indicated that there were some U.S. $1.3 billion in grant pledges and over U.S $1 billion in loans and debt relief. Recovery costs for the affected countries surpass U.S. $5 billion, according to the latest needs estimates.
The most significant pledges were made by The Netherlands, U.S. $702 million; and the E.U., U.S. $352 million. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has pledged to make U.S. $1 billion available for loans.
But it turns out that the majority, if not all, of the Dutch aid is going towards its overseas territory Sint Maarten which was one of the worst hit by Hurricane Irma. And one overlooked fact amidst the euphoria emanating from New York is that Antigua and Barbuda is not a member of the IDB. Neither is Dominica, another devastated country.
“My understanding is that it’s about $2.1 billion in pledges, $1 billion of which was pledged by the IDB – those are loans – we’re not members of the IDB. Secondly, The Netherlands, they pledged $700 million for their overseas territories. So that the remainder of about maybe U.S. $450 million, that is the portion in which we will share,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne told OBSERVER media on Saturday.
According to the PM, it is estimated that Antigua and Barbuda will receive about 7 percent of whatever remains from the grant funds.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)