PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, April 10, 2018 (CMC) – Trinidad and Tobago has offered “sincere apologies” to Dominica, following the “mishap” that occurred when Port of Spain voted against a waiver on Dominica’s assessed quota contribution to the Organisation of American States (OAS) for the 2018-19 period.
Foreign Affairs and CARICOM Affairs Minister, Dennis Moses, told Parliament, yesterday, that he had been in touch with his counterpart in Dominica and “verbally conveyed” the country’s apology on the matter.
“In the best tradition of closeness and warm ties, my interaction with the Foreign Minister of Dominica (Francine Baron) was such that no further communiqué was needed,” Moses said, in response to questions, posed by Opposition legislators.
He told legislators that there was “ongoing communication between heads of governments”, when asked whether Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, had been in contact with his counterpart, Roosevelt Skerrit, on the issue.
Last week, a “shocked and embarrassed” Rowley sought to reaffirm his country’s commitment to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and, more specifically, Dominica, following the “mishap”.
Rowley, who has since received a report on the circumstances that led to his administration not supporting the Dominica waiver request, told reporters that he was “shocked and embarrassed as any other citizen”, following the vote on March 23.
“So when I heard Trinidad and Tobago had taken a position, in opposition to the request of Dominica, it came as a shock to me, and I immediately inquired to find how could this be and who was directing that policy, because, clearly, that policy required an input from the political directorate,” he said, after he had outlined the many occasions his administration, since coming to office in 2015, had made it clear it was in full support of CARICOM.
Dominica is recovering from the destruction caused by the passage of Hurricane Maria on September 18, last year, and the island had gone to the OAS meeting, here, last week, urging member countries to approve of the waiver, estimated at US$20,000 annually.
Dominica’s alternate representative to the hemispheric body, Judith-Anne Rolle, told the meeting that the post disaster assessment situation in Dominica, undertaken in collaboration with a number of regional and international organisations, including the World Bank and the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), had painted a very dismal picture of the island.
“The post disaster needs assessment also concluded that Hurricane Maria resulted in total damages of US$931 million and losses of US$382 million to the productive, social, infrastructure and cross cutting sectors amounting to 226 per cent of the GDP gross domestic product) of 2016,” she told the meeting.
Prime Minister Skerrit has since said the relationship between the two CARICOM countries “is still solid” and that “The Trinidad and Tobago government, and indeed the whole of TT, have been very supportive of our efforts”.
“I do not think that the PM would have been aware of the vote at the OAS, prior. This is one of the usual miscommunication occurrences, which happens to all of us, from time to time,” he said.