Thursday 23 November, 2017

Antigua and Barbuda PM appeals to citizens, businessmen for funds

Antiguan and Barbudan Prime Minister Gaston Browne is calling on all citizens to donate to rebuilding efforts in Barbuda.

Speaking at a special session of Parliament on Monday, Browne said his plan is to raise US$50 million in 30 days. He hopes to raise three to five million US from domestic sources.

Browne appealed to businessmen on the island including banks to donate to the restoration fund. He singled out residents of the luxurious and upscale Jumby Island, stating that he expects them to make donations. Already, one person has pledged one million dollars, he said.

Stating that Hurricane Irma’s destruction of Barbuda is an opportunity to rebuild a new resilient Barbuda with green energy, Browne also called on Parliamentarians to donate money and leading the charge, he revealed that he has instructed his bank to release EC$100,000 of his personal funds to the cause.

He asked all Parliamentarians to appeal to their wealthy friends to donate to the fund as well.

Browne said since Antigua and Barbuda registered a six percent growth last year, it has been considered a high-income country which means it has no access to loans and grants.

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That means, money to rebuild the island will have to be sought from wherever it can, he said, noting he has been speaking to international leaders about donating to the rebuilding process. During his contribution, Browne left the chamber to take a call from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to talk about possible donations from Canada.

He said on Monday, his Government activated the Caribbean Catastrophic Fund which will pay $47 million. Three and half million will be advanced immediately, he said.

He said he wants to be in a position in the next seven days to raise US$10 million to ship everything for electricity generation and building material and get them on the island within 30 days.

“The objective is to build 200 homes within six months,” he said.

Browne said the destruction on Barbuda now provides an opportunity to enforce building codes in Barbuda and address land tenure issues that will empower the citizens to build resilient homes that could withstand major hurricanes.