Ralph Birkhoff Photo of relief supplies arriving on Anguilla from Montserrat on Sunday, September 17, 2017.

Opportune Time for British Caribbean OTs to Team Up, Says Former Minister Claude Hogan

Former Minister of Agriculture and Housing, Claude Hogan says now is the time for Montserrat to join with other British Caribbean Overseas Territories (OTs) to renegotiate a way forward.

Hogan was speaking on ZJB Radio Montserrat on Thursday, September 14 about Montserrat’s plans to help their hurricane-stricken neighbours. He said once the immediate humanitarian crisis is dealt with, a discussion needs to be had about how Montserrat, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and British OTs will negotiate their long term redevelopment needs.

Member of Parliament Claude Hogan

His comments are timely considering the recent decision by the UK government to relook its aid rules. Under international rules, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands are considered too wealthy to qualify for assistance. According to a BBC report, International Development Secretary Priti Patel said they should consider the impact of natural disasters.

Using Montserrat’s 20-plus years volcanic eruption story as an example, the politician said the road to redevelopment is an arduous one and cautioned that the island could get lost in the fray as the needs of those newly damaged could take precedence. Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat now all have the same basic needs. Anguilla needs a hospital, we have been waiting for one for over 20 years. They need a port and so do we, Hogan stated

“I hope that out of this disaster we have a rainbow,” he said. “We have an opportunity. The whole world is enlightened to the fact that the OTs of the British are lesser children. The type of mobilization mounted by the UK in a matter of days … does signal to me that they are aware.”

Along with the hundreds of marines sent to help with relief, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Anguilla and the BVI for a first hand look at the destruction last week.

“If you continue on aid you will always be on aid. What we need is the economic resilience that will support our livelihood. I believe we have a good opportunity to go to the table. We have to join the rest of the OTs” and insist that the British answer “what is the level of resilience that you will put in all of the OTs as a minimum treatment for British people in the Caribbean?”

The Trade Economist and former CARICOM programme manager described the UK economy as the most resilient in the world and said that the British OTs should also have this same resilience.

Hogan acknowledged that the current emergency does put Montserrat in a highly competitive place. He cautioned that if Montserrat does not undertake a joined up approach with the other islands that delivery of the long term needs will be slowed. The British Virgin Islands, he said has more financial resilience than we do and would provide more PR opportunities for the British. “We (Montserrat) need to get to the front of the line.”