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The use of hurricane relief and recovery funds, and rebuilding progress, are among the areas being examined by Director for Overseas Territories in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr. Ben Merrick, who is currently on a four-day visit to the British Virgin Islands.
In a press release on Wednesday, November 7, it was announced that he will also be paying close attention to governance, financial services and the recovery of the Territory.
During his visit, discussion will be held on how the UK’s further offers of grant funding and loan guarantees will be used to support BVI’s recovery and development.
According to the public missive on this visit, “The Overseas Territories Director will also see the impact of the significant financial and technical support from the United Kingdom (UK) since last year’s hurricanes, including helping to rebuild the Territory’s infrastructure, namely water and electricity services, the courts, the police, the prison and housing repairs for some of the most vulnerable in society.”
Scheduled on his agenda before his Friday departure are meetings with several members of Government and public officials, including Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, the Cabinet, the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Andrew Fahie and members of the Financial Services Industry.
“He will also visit several Government departments and agencies, including the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Department of Disaster Management, the BVI Ports Authority, the BVI Airports Authority and the Recovery and Development Agency,” the release noted.
Several of the areas of interest of Mr. Merrick’s visit were previously examined by Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, during his visit in July.
During that two-day trip, Lord Ahmad had discussions in relation to the Territory’s financial services and made certain commitments to recovery efforts in the BVI.
In relation to recovery efforts, the Minister met with the board of the Recovery and Development Agency for an update on recovery, and had pledged assistance on this front, saying, “I know there is still more to be done before the islands are fully recovered and the UK stands ready to help.”