Changes to the UK’s foreign aid budget are set to bring much needed access to disaster funding within the region and Governor Martyn Roper said on Thursday (1 November) the move is welcomed.
On Friday (2 November), Mr. Roper spent his time touring our sister islands, getting to grips with the issues affecting people there.
The governor has stressed since his arrival earlier this week that he’s very much in “listening” mode as he seeks to understand the priorities and concerns affecting people in Cayman.
In his first news conference, Governor Roper confirmed that the UK was successful in its bid to get the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to allow overseas territories hit by natural disasters to access money ring fenced for foreign aid.
“The UK has persuaded the OECD and other countries to change its rules,” Mr. Roper told the media, adding: “in the future, we will be able to use ODA budgets in disaster relief, which will include the Cayman islands.”
After hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the BVI and Turks and Caicos in 2017, the islands did not qualify for Official Development Assistance (ODA).
“The OECD has changed its rules on using ODA budgets to help territories going through natural disasters,” Mr. Roper explained.
At this time of year, the hurricane threat is still a concern for Cayman, as is the looming Brexit deadline, another potential storm cloud on the horizon…
“This is a major issue facing the UK and we’re running up against the 31 March deadline,” The Governor stated.
As a diplomat with a slew of international postings under his belt, it seemed only right to finish by asking him which had been his favourite country to date.
“Of course the Cayman Islands has to be the answer I give to that!” Mr. Roper laughed.
“I’ve enjoyed all my postings actually. As a diplomat, what I find motivating is having the opportunity to get under the skin of a country, understand its culture and people and advise London based on that knowledge,” the Governor said.
Cayman 27 also asked Mr. Roper about his previous role as the Ambassador to Algeria, where he led the British response to the In Amenas hostage crisis and earned an OBE for his work.
There was criticism at the time the Algerian government were not collaborating with their international partners, whose citizens were caught up in the crisis, including from then-British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr. Roper stated there had been no realistic hope of persuading the Algerians to allow foreign troops in. He said it was important to respect a sovereign country’s wishes in that situation.
Cayman’s new governor finished up his first week in office with a trip to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.