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Airline collects full $7M -Premier dodges questions

BVI Airways

By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith yesterday declined to answer some questions about his government’s deal with BVI Airways, but he admitted that there is an addendum to the initial bi-partisan agreement, adding that his administration already has pumped a total $7 million into the privately owned carrier.

When the premier announced the deal in January last year, he said his government would have ‘invested’ the money into the airline over a three-year-period.

But, based on answers he presented in the House of Assembly yesterday, the full $7 million was paid out to BVI Airways within months, starting January 22 last year and ending August 26, 2016.

The payout, Premier Smith said, ended up costing the government to pay more, because an additional $207,000 was required to establish an account. That extra cost, the premier added, was shared.

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie, who hit the premier with a plethora of questions, asked if BVI Airways has requested additional funds from Government. “BVI Airways has not requested any further funding from the government of the virgin islands,” Premier Smith replied.

He maintained that the monetary injection, which he now refers to as a subsidy, was based on ‘a sound business case’ that involved assessment of various factors including expected tourist arrivals.

“The tenets of the BVI Government’s agreement with BVI Airways provide for that of a subsidy. This is very much like the subsidies that countries throughout the Caribbean give to airlines to get them to fly into various destinations,” Premier Smith said, but he admitted that the big difference is that his government provided the ‘subsidy’ to BVI Airways before the private airline acquired its planes.

Premier Smith is hoping that the funds already provided will be enough for the airline to remain in the skies. “We continue to expect that it (BVI Airways) will be self-sufficient once it is able to go through a complete year of operation,” added the premier.

No responses now

In the meantime, the territory’s political leader declined to answer a number of the Opposition leader’s questions in relation to BVI Airways.

For example, he admitted that there is an addendum to the initial agreement with the airline, but he declined to give specifics of the addendum, and to provide a requested copy of the said addendum.

“There is an amendment to the agreement with BVI Airways that was necessitated due to difficulties in securing a line of credit as required in the original agreement. The amendment to this agreement essentially allows for an escrow arrangement for the transfer of funds, and a sharing of the costs associated with the setting up of this escrow account… As this is an addendum to the recent agreement, all facets of the agreement and the addendum must be adhere to,” Premier Smith noted. He added that the contents of the documents are in conformity with the Protocols for Effective Financial Management.

Premier Smith said he was not making the documents public at this time because he did not want to prejudice ongoing negotiations involving BVI Airways.

“Because BVI Airways is in negotiation with various entities at this time, it would be appreciated that we would be prejudicial to the operation to make this information public,” the premier said repeatedly in relation to the questions he did not answer.

He eventually promised to provide the answers at a later date. “I can say this, Madam Speaker, that it (response to the questions) will be brought to this House in time when I am ready to bring it. But I don’t think it is appropriate at this time,” added Premier Smith.

The unanswered questions, as posed by the Opposition leader, include the FOLLOWING: “Madam Speaker, would the Premier and Minister of Finance please inform this Honourable House if any more funding, equity or investment of any kind is presently being considered to be given to BV Airways/BVI Airways separate to the initial investment of $7 million? B) And, if yes, for what purpose and how much? In what form will the investment be made to BV Airways/BVI Airways and when? C) If no [funding, equity or investment is being considered presently for BVI Airways], will any more investment be made during this year 2017? If yes, when?”

When Premier Smith declined to answer that and other questions, the Opposition leader noted that, under the Freedom of Information Act in the United States, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has to post crucial information regarding airline negotiations on its website for the public to scrutinize.

Currently, a number of documents that BVI Airways has submitted to DOT are being displayed on that department’s website, which also explains whenever documents are being withheld from public viewing.

BVI Airways had written to DOT, requesting permission to operate direct flights into Miami from the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

A response is still pending and so BVI Airways is still unable to start flying into Miami.

Premier Smith yesterday indicated that he could not say when exactly BVI Airways will commence its proposed service between the BVI and the US.

“I am aware that BVI Airways recently announced publicly that it hopes to commence flights in June 2017. At this point, it is out of my government’s hand; I am not at liberty to say definitely when this would occur,” Premier Smith said.

Copyright 2017 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

34 Comments

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  1. Tom says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 1

    Someone needs to go to jail for too many lies

    • BREAKING NEWS! says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

      THEY REALLY NEEDED 7 MILLION TO EXECUTE DEAL BUT SOME WHEELBARROW MONEY WAS FUNNELED TO WHITE COLLAR NDP BIG WIG IN THE TOURISM SECTOR FOR CUTTING DEAL.

      THEY ARE SILENT NOW BUT THROUGH NEW YORK A SET OF CASH WAS PEDDLED AND THAT IS WHY THEY HAVE THE ACCOUNTS BEING HANDLED FROM UP THERE INSTEAD OF HOME IN BVI.

      FBI IS WATCHING CLOSELY THE MONEY’S AND THE CRUISE SHIP PIER IS ANOTHER ON CLOSE EYE.

      CORRUPTION AT IT’S BEST!

      THE GOVERNOR IS ABOUT TO ACT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

    • Finally says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

      Follow the money. This case raises serious issues surrounding the governance of our country.

      First, why isn’t there full transparency with govt spending? Second, why don’t we have a role in how our money is spent?

      • JAY says:

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

        it is a sorry case that tax payers are bearing the brunt of lack of transparencies.outrageous taxes are being introduced from time to time. God will help us.,

  2. hmmm says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

    what a stool pigeon

  3. hmm says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 3

    da 7 million could have fixed the road between prospect reef and the hospital….. just saying

    • ? says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2

      It surely could have bought a new reliable ferry service so that we and tourist could have a way to get on and off the island…..

      Recently went to STJ with a Canadian friend. Immigration looked at the passport and said, “Welcome to the US, we are happy to have you stay for 6 months.”

      So we take the ferry from STJ to RH… Amazing ferry boats: comfortable, cool, quiet, CLEAN.

      Just 2 points I am making in relation to the BVI Airway and Airport expansion jokes.

      We could have a nice ferry service and we could be more welcoming to visitors.

  4. Albion says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

    “an additional $207,000 was required to establish an account”

    What does that even mean? A bank account, or something else?

  5. hey says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

    Trust me…It ain’t over yet…. Stay tuned

  6. One word says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

    Corruption

  7. Smdh says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 2

    I don’t trust the ndp no more at all. Too many lies and hiding of the truth.

  8. inquiring mind says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 2

    I wander, if the ordinary citizen responded in that manner what would have been the likely result,

  9. Imagine says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 3

    Imagine the ndp I voted for took up our hard earn tax money to give a company that went bankrupt in the BVI before. Now the government invest in them to start over in the tune of $7 Million dollars and counting.

    Which local business could have gotten this kind of help from the ndp? Pure foolishness.

  10. smh says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 5

    another ndp success

    • JAY says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

      I think all these discrepancies should be taken into account when voting next time .

  11. Flick says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 25

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • Hmmmm says:

      Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 21

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • Bullet says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

      Has this invested airline flown any profitable commercial flights? Oh and I do not mean the recent CARIFTA games ploy.

      As for the names you highlighted; deary the planes flying every day, month and year! I think the benefits are crystal clear to all whom can see without rose colored glasses.

    • cissie says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

      stupes

  12. blocked says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 25

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • Laughing says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

      LMAO!!!!!

    • Unblocked says:

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

      @Blocked

      Straight off the bat you’d be $207,000.00 better off. It would appear that the airline is operating under the premise of ‘if it floats, flies or f***s’, rent it don’t buy it.

  13. So what's new? says:

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 22

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  14. Political Observer (PO) says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

    The late Austin “Bruk” Maduro, D-6 Rep Alvera Maduro-Caines father, favorite saying was “well meh boi”. Indeed, well meh boi !

    What is the rational for teking up $7M of hard earned and scarce taxpayer money and geeing it to a bruk ass and defunct airline, BVI Airways? Well sah!

    De old folks say when yu find an ass you ride it. BVI Airways must seeing the government and people of the VI as real asses that do know pullet from fowl.

    They must be having a hearty laugh mung themselves and at we expense as they sit sipping expensive champagne and nyaming caviar. This is not effective stewardship of taxapayers resources.

    Moreover, what is the amendment/addendum about? Is BVI Airways seeking additional funding before even getting air borne?

    What skin, if any, does BVI Airways have in the game? Does BVI Airways belong to the people of the VI? Why is the people’s business being hidden from them?

  15. Snap election says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

    You know, I supported Doc for a long time. It is time for him to go.

    Too many shady deals, throwing money around like a drunken sailor, not answering legitimate questions. Sorry Doc, confidence in you is gone.

  16. Hah says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

    Thank you Dr. Smith for all of your contributions to the BVI.

    Now it is time for you to join Ralph on a much needed retirement and take Delores, Alvera, Pickering, Hubert, Myron and Archie with you.

    Without bad influences around Mitch and Marlon still have a glimmer of hope.

  17. Bushwacker says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

    What an elaborate plot to spirit money out of the treasury. Come clean Doc

  18. WTF says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

    What an IDIOT.

  19. ndp heckler says:

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

    Our leader is misinformed, misled and missing in action

  20. okay says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    The plane will fly but so will our tax dollars. Someone getting fat on this deal.

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