Persad-Bissessar said after witnessing the destruction Hurricane Tomas caused in St Lucia, which she visited last Friday, she decided to raise the issue of aid for affected islands during her talks with Clinton. St Vincent also suffered a terrible blow from Tomas to its banana industry.
“Certainly I will raise this matter of assistance for the region with Mrs Clinton, and I am looking forward to a favourable response,” Persad-Bissessar told Newsday in a phone interview from the US.
Persad-Bissessar is hoping to convince the US Secretary of State to assist the region through the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act and to provide assistance for rebuilding the economies.
Her meeting with Clinton will take place at 11.45 am tomorrow at the Office of the US Secretary of State in Washington.
The Prime Minister also told Newsday talks are still ongoing on what assistance Trinidad and Tobago will provide to St Lucia and St Vincent.
She said an assessment report is being undertaken, and the Office of Disaster Preparedness Management (ODPM), led by Colonel Rodney Smart, the Regiment, the Ministry of Housing and other key stakeholders are having discussions on the way TT will help the islands.
“I was only told today (yesterday) that five containers were due to leave Trinidad for the two islands, and the engineering corp of the Regiment may be asked to go to the two islands to assist in rebuilding homes after we receive a full needs assessment report, but in the meantime we will continue to do our best to assist our neighbours,” Persad-Bissessar said. The St Lucian government has estimated an overall cost of US$500 million to rebuild the country, and it also expects this rebuilding to take place in a year. St Lucia was without a potable water supply yesterday.
Checks yesterday revealed the engineering corp of the Regiment has been placed on standby to travel at the earliest time to St Lucia and St Vincent to assist in rebuilding homes.
Persad-Bissessar yesterday disclosed organisations in the US have also been contacted about helping the two islands and more is expected to be provided through the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act.
During her meeting with the US Secretary of State, the Prime Minister is also expected to discuss economic, social and political issues affecting the Western Hemisphere. Also, they will also hold in-depth bilateral discussions about US/Trinidad and Tobago/Caricom relations. Today the Prime Minister will meet with Susan Rice, the US representative to the United Nations, at 1 pm.