This country’s response to countries affected by hurricane Irma was addressed by Prime Minister, Hon. Dr Ralph Gonsalves, at a press conference held at Cabinet Room on Monday, 18th September.
The Prime Minister commented on a number of issues, including the barge destined for the British Virgin Islands (BVI); preparations to accommodate students from the BVI, and the recent delegation to the BVI and Anguilla led by Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Saboto Caesar, and Minister of Economic Planning, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves; who were also at the press conference.
In his introduction, Prime Minister Gonsalves stated that there are around 2000 Vincentians living in the BVI, roughly 10% of the domestic population. In Anguilla, the number of Vincentians is around 500, and in Antigua, there is a large number of Vincentians.
The Prime Minister added, “thus, we have intimate family connection with persons in these islands. We have to help... We have to be good Samaritans.”
According to Dr. Gonsalves, who is also the Minister of Finance, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has made significant contributions to the affected areas in cash and other material aid. “We have sent through the Central Bank, the East Caribbean Currency Union, from fiscal tranche 2 - one million dollars to Anguilla and one million dollars to Antigua and Barbuda. We ourselves gave $50 000 USD to BVI, then to Antigua and Barbuda and we’re going to send money to Anguilla and also to Cuba,” he said.
Pertaining to the barge that came to collect relief supplies for the BVI, Dr. Gonsalves said that it has 1800 tonnes capacity; and that it was filled up to 80%. The Government, he said, paid for the 2500 gallons of fuel to cover the journey.
Dr. Gonsalves explained that the barge left around midnight Friday, 15th September, but got as far as Dominica, as it had to return to Port Kingstown due to then tropical storm Maria. With reference to Maria, he acknowledged that the season is still active, and "hope and pray we’ll be spared, but we don’t know what will happen. We just have to be prepared." he added.
He also said that he is working closely with Miss Forbes at NEMO to monitor any weather developments.