February 6, 2009
PM: RDF cash taking too long

The US$16.5 million that St Vincent and the Grenadines applied for from the Regional Development Fund (RDF) is taking too long to come into the coffers.{{more}}

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, February 2, 2009, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves just back from a special meeting of the Council for Finance and Planning (COFAP) in Barbados, said that the he had hoped that St Vincent and the Grenadines application would have been considered more promptly.

“They were moving slowly,” he said, adding that the debate about the pace at which the fund was being administrated was “lively”.

The RDF was set up as apart of CARICOM’s attempt to remove disparity among its members, as they pursue the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

St Vincent is the only member state with an application to the fund, which is expected to be capitalized with US$120 million, and is currently up to US$68 million.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the fund Ambassador Lorne Mc Donnough is set to visit this country this month to look at the work being done in airport development, so that the application could hopefully be processed in April, at the next schedule meeting of Council of Finance and Planning (COFAP), said Dr Gonsalves.

At the COFAP meeting, a task force including representatives from several regional bodies like the Caribbean Congress of Labour, the OECS Secretariat and the Caribbean Development Bank was commissioned to elaborate areas of regional co-operation in response to the global financial crisis.

An interim report from this task force is expected to be presented in March, before the COFAP meeting in April.

The meeting also examined the various policy questions, the various platforms leading towards integration, including that of currency convertibility.

Dr Gonsalves also told journalists that good progress was being made in the coordination of a regional support for the redevelopment of Haiti.

As it appears that the integration focus is building some momentum in 2009, Dr Gonsalves, who has been a very outspoken integrationist, warned that the CSME is indivisible.

“No one country can cherry-pick their way,” he said.