A brief ceremony was held at the Office of the Minister of Barbuda Affairs Hon. Dean Jonas this morning (Tues), to hand over a Cheque to assist with the post-Irma rehabilitation Programme on the sister island of Barbuda.
Country Manager of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, Glen Smith said that following the devastating hurricanes of Irma and Maria, the institution has taken the decision to donate US$450,000 towards disaster recovery efforts in the region.
He said FirstCaribbean’s operations in several islands were impacted to include the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, St. Martin, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas and St. Kitts and Nevis.
The contribution for Antigua and Barbuda is equivalent to US$50.000.
Some EC$20,000 was already disbursed last October to assist students who were impacted by the hurricane to pay for CXC and CSEC fees.
Thirty two (32) Barbudan students, eight (8) students from Dominica and twelve (12) financially challenged students who reside here in Antigua benefitted.
The balance of EC$115,000 was presented today (Tues) which will go towards the continued rehabilitation of Barbuda.
“We hope that these funds would continue to assist in speeding up the process of returning some degree of normalcy to the lives of our brothers and sister on the sister island of Barbuda,” Smith said.
Minister Jonas was very pleased to receive the financial donation and noted that it is very timely in the rebuilding of Barbuda. Much progress has been made on the Sister Island but there is still a lot to be done.
Minister Jonas noted that the fishing, agriculture and tourism sectors are critical areas targeted for development to ensure a thriving economic environment on the Sister Isle.
“As you are well aware, business development in Barbuda is very slow; in Barbuda, most of what they have done before is fishing; farming, that sort of thing and there were some hotel operations that were ongoing in Barbuda as well. Most of the government facilities in Barbuda that should be providing support for many of these areas are still not fully operational.”
Minister Jonas also threw out an appeal to FirstCaribbean to establish a branch in Barbuda. He said this would help to build more business operations.
Smith, meanwhile noted that the bank is proud of the decision it has made within one year of the bank’s birth back in 2003, to give back one percent of their prior year’s profit to their communities.
To further their mission of being ‘First for Communities’ in countries in which they operate, the institution has also formed the FirstCaribbean Foundation -Com Trust .
It is the governing body for the institution’s Cooperate Social Responsibility Initiatives.
He explained “What this does, it allows the bank to be able to make a contribution both in terms of cash and in terms of the personal participation of staff in projects that impact the communities in which we have a presence,” Smith noted.
Each year, there is additional demand for funds from the institution’s community relations department.
Smith lauded the continued support of what he described as a ’world class set of staff’ who in some projects, actually dedicated personal time and effort in getting those projects up and running.
FirstCaribbean’s generosity throughout the region has spanned wide and varied -from supporting small community efforts, to larger projects like natural disasters within the region.