(DOMINICA NEWS ONLINE) – In what was said to be an awkward and tense moment at the last meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Trinidad and Tobago objected to a plea from Dominica for a two-year waiver of its fee at the organization.
The twin-island republic was the only member of the OAS to object after Dominica appealed for leniency due to the passage of Hurricane Maria.
“The post-disaster needs assessment also concluded that Hurricane Maria resulted in total damages of US$931-million and losses of US$382-million,” Judith Anne Rolle, Dominica’s First Secretary at the OAS said in making the case for the island.
She said that every sector of the Dominican economy had been impacted by Maria with the greatest loss being recorded within the agricultural sector at 33 percent, followed by the tourism sector at 19 percent.
In light of that, she asked that Dominica’s fee to the OAS, between US$15,000 to US$20,000 to be waived for 2018 and 2019 while the island rebuilds.
“Let me on behalf of the government of the Commonwealth of Dominica record our profound appreciation to all member states for their continued and invaluable support to the Commonwealth of Dominica as we advance recovery efforts in our homeland,” Rolle said.
But Trinidad had reservations and insisted that Dominica should still pay.
“This delegation is appreciative of consideration given to this matter. This delegation recognizes the goodwill expressed by the delegations. This delegation wishes to itself join in expressing goodwill in attending to this matter, but consistent with the position adopted in other multi lateral fora in the hemisphere, this delegation again wishes to offer for consideration, the option for the deferral payments of contributions, and where possible the implementation of a payment plan subject to annual review,” Anthony Phillips-Spencer, Trinidad’s permanent representatative to the OAS, told the meeting.
Trinidad’s position left Rolle stunned and at loss for words.
“I am a little bit … I must say here I am a little bit, um, unsure of one of our member states concern and I seek clarity from this council,” she stated.
The motion eventually was passed and Dominica’s fees were waived.