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TCI: UK Govt says alternative Brexit funding may lead to OT Development Fund

#Providenciales, May 14, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – United Kingdom explains that the Government it is committed to filling gaps left due to the imminent British exit from the European Union.

The Government in a recently published report explains the plan of action.

“Future funding arrangements for the OTs will be considered as part of the next Spending Review, which will conclude at the budget. To feed into Spending Review considerations, the Government is establishing an Inter-Ministerial Group to meet to examine the issue of whether to develop a dedicated OT fund, including ODA assistance, together with other longer-term issues, including those raised in the Committee’s report. We will inform the Committee of its outcome.”

The Foreign Affairs Committee advised the UK Government that it needed to begin to consider how it would manage the void as the EU is credited with partnerships with Overseas Territories to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. 

“… the Government should explore options for a dedicated development and stimulus fund for the OTs, which would allow for the long-term, sustainable development of aid-dependent territories; help to stimulate the economies of those who need a stimulus but do not qualify for official development assistance; and help territories that are otherwise financially self-sufficient respond to crises such as hurricanes. This long-term vision must be based on a clear-eyed assessment of how the UK will balance the needs of individual OTs against value for money for UK taxpayers. There must be scope to ask hard questions about the long-term sustainability and viability of individual OTs without further significant levels of UK capital investment. If the Government does not think significant capital investment is possible, then it must be frank about what it will spend and towards what end,” recommended the FAC in February 2019.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office added, “The Government will also be considering future funding for the Blue Belt programme as part of the forthcoming Spending Review, as the current programme ends in March 2020. The Government announced in the Spring Statement 2019 that it will support the call from Ascension Island Council for a fully protected, no-take Marine Protected Area in its offshore waters. The Chancellor confirmed that funding for ongoing costs associated with Ascension’s MPA will be delivered at the forthcoming Spending Review.”

The FAC was informed that research and understanding has long been started as the UK Government aims to ensure there remains some kind of support to the OTs.  In the conclusions section of the report, released on May 7, 2019, this was said:  “The OTs currently benefit from a number of EU programmes, specifically the European Development Fund, Horizon 2020, The Voluntary Scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories (BEST) and Erasmus+. Gibraltar also receives EU structural funds, specifically the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) and takes part in European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes. In the event of no deal, the Chancellor has agreed that the UK government will guarantee funding for specific EU projects over their lifetime, should it be required; further details are set out in the Technical Notice, which was published on 12 October 2018. This will provide certainty for the OTs and participating organisations over the course of EU exit.”

While the tone of the commentary is one of committedness by the UK Government, there is also caution which the OTs will likely note and discuss in upcoming meetings with the FCO.

“Any future funding arrangements will need to demonstrate value for money and adopt a consistent approach across all government departments that manage such funds. No decisions have yet been taken on this matter. The OTs will be fully consulted in the process.”

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