“It certainly will have an impact, because, clearly, for these three member states, resources, which are every scarce, will have to be found one way or the other to reconstruct, reengineer and rehabilitate,” said Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who is also the head of government in Antigua and Barbuda.
Spencer over the weekend visited the three affected countries.
The unseasonal weather system left at least 15 people dead in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia and caused “hundreds of millions of dollars” in damage in the three islands.
“So, it will have an economic impact from the point of view of having to raise funds, and you are not going to get all of it gratis, by grant. You are going to have to find ways and means of getting the resources to do that,” Spencer said.
“My own view is that in situations like these, particularly where you have a number of members states being affected at the same time, that you have to find a mechanism, sub-regional, together, put together a mechanism that will put these members states out of this major challenge that they would have on their hands at this time.
“And this is one of the reasons why I have decided to visit personally in my capacity as chair, to make a full assessments, so that we can coordinate our efforts here and make sure that the delivery of support, tangible support, real support, particularly in the area of rebuilding infrastructural situation, that can move on at a pace, because you can’t wait for one, two, three years to deal with these issues. These matters require rapid response,” Spencer said.
Spencer told reporters that having viewed the damage caused on the Barbados-based CARIBVISION television news programme “Newsline”, he had anticipated that the damage would have been major.
“But now that I have come and seen the situation first hand, I recognize that it’s been devastating. Clearly, what I am admiring really is the spirit and the resilience of the people of St. Vincent, against the backdrop of what is clearly a devastating experience,” he said.
“And I am here, as I said, to show solidarity with the people of St. Vincent and more particularly, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. He and I have developed a close friendship and also as the current chair of the OECS Heads, recognizing that three of the member states have recently suffered as a result of the weather patterns.
“I thought it was a my duty to come and see for myself exactly what is taking place so that together we may be able to lend support to the efforts that the Vincentians are making in restoring and rebuilding after this disaster,” Spencer said.