BVI NOMINATED REGIONAL AUTHORISING OFFICER AT OCTA MEETING
Thursday December 11, 2008
The Virgin Islands (UK) will serve as the Regional Territorial Authorising Officer for the Caribbean members of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) in 2009.
The Territory was nominated at the recent OCTA Ministerial Conference held in the Cayman Islands on November 25 and will be the responsible for arranging the preparation and submission of programming proposals that would provide European Union funding for British and Dutch OCTs in the Caribbean.
Deputy Premier Honourable Dancia Penn, QC who led the Territory’s delegation to the meeting said the Territory is honoured to be nominated to serve in this capacity adding that “the BVI is committed to working for the betterment of OCTA.”
Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith, who serves as the Territorial Authorising Officer, explained that as the Regional Authorising Officer, the BVI will coordinate all activities for OCTA members in the region, corresponding with the European Union on their behalf.
Mr. Smith said the BVI’s nomination speaks volumes for the capabilities of its officials as well as the trust and confidence placed in the Territory by fellow OTs. “The British Virgin Islands as an overseas territory is highly respected throughout the Caribbean,” he said.
The Financial Secretary attributes this to a number of factors including “the way that we run our Government, the way BVI delegates carry themselves in the meetings, what we say, has over the years created a legacy of excellence.”
Mr. Smith further explained to the Department of Information and Public Relations that to facilitate the BVI’s service as Regional Authorising Officer, he would have to re-organise his office to deal with the additional workload and will also work collaboratively with the Premier’s Office.
The establishment of an OCTA secretariat was another major talking point at the meeting and the BVI has given its full support to the proposal.
Acting Deputy Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs. Marva Titley-Smith who also attended the Cayman Islands meeting said “the OCTA Secretariat will function to enhance the policy dialogue between OCTs and the EU and increase the flow of information and awareness of EU-OCT programmes.”
Another major talking point at the recent OCTA meeting was the Green Paper on the future relationship between OCTs and the EU, which it has been proposed should represent a move away from the classic poverty-focussed development approach to one which recognises the diversity, economic and environmental vulnerabilities of individual OCTs.
BVI delegates and their counterparts attending the meeting participated in group sessions that addressed issues of the environment, capacity building and financial services as they relate to interactions with the EU.
The Territory’s relationship with OCTA and the EU is managed primarily through the BVI London Office, which was represented at the meeting by Political/Accounts Officer Ms. Sandra Besson.
Established in 2003, OCTA is designed to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information for the mutual benefit of members, recommend action to member governments, develop effective working relationships with EU institutions and defend the collective interests of members.