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Thursday, 23 July 2009

Anguilla's delegation returns home today

LONDON, England -- Chief Minister, Osbourne Fleming and Minister of Finance, Victor Banks attended a series of meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with private institutions and the British government aimed at dealing with shoring up the tourism industry and alleviating the impact of the global economic crisis on Anguilla.

The Anguilla delegation met a number of potential investors over the weekend and on Tuesday with the Chinese Business Network (CBN). An agreement was signed with CBN for tourism promotion of Anguilla in China.

Anguilla is a potential alternate tourist destination for Chinese nationals who are estimated to travel for leisure purposes in numbers of about 50 million in 2010.

One of the objectives of the agreement is for CBN to assist in directing potential Chinese investment to Anguilla.

The Chief Minister also signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the United Kingdom on Tuesday prior to his meeting with the Minister of Overseas Territories, Chris Bryant. This agreement will assist Anguilla in meeting its international obligations, and is critical to the success of Anguilla as an international financial centre.

Fleming indicated to the Minister for The Overseas Territories that the unprecedented global economic down turn has hampered Anguilla’s development tremendously. In particular, the number of low tourist arrivals, the inability of the locally owned tourism projects to access foreign capital, the challenges of the foreign investors and potential real estate buyers to secure financing, and the impact of reduced activity in the construction sector have all resulted in the fall off of several government revenues streams this financial year.

The Government’s Reserves have had to be used throughout this year to meet its commitments to vendors, government agencies, service providers and public servants to name a few.

Anguilla’s Delegation is attempting to secure the agreement of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to relax the borrowing guidelines, and thereby allow the Government to borrow funds that will create a bridge over this period of uncertainty in the global financial environment. The approval for such a facility is being pursued to enable the Government of Anguilla to implement its financial and economic recovery plan to ensure that Anguilla is able to weather the impacts of the global recession over the next twelve months.

Meetings continued on Wednesday with FCO and other UK government officials on the borrowing guidelines, sea and air transport issues, development of prison infrastructure and services, EDF funding, replacement of the fire truck, as well as to discuss the timetable on constitutional talks and other issues.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Finance was slated to sign two TIEAs with the governments of Ireland and The Netherlands, while the Permanent Secretary of Economic Development and the Permanent Secretary of the Chief Minister’s Office travel to Brussels, Belgium to meet with the European Commission on the release of EC$24 million to Anguilla that will be used for budgetary assistance purposes.

On Wednesday evening the delegation met with the Anguillian community in Slough.

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