Virgin Islanders are being assured that they will be shown favouritism to acquire contracts or work arising from the recovery plan.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith gave that guarantee while allaying growing fears about the Recovery Agency that is being mandated by the United Kingdom to oversee and control how funds for the recovery plan are spent.
“An Agency will by no means result in BVIslanders being overlooked for involvement. Our people will be given preference in the redevelopment of our country whether as architects, planners, environmentalists, engineers, contractors, builders, truckers and the like.”
“Indeed the legislation setting up the Agency must and will ensure that this is the case, as well as the fact that the Agency will be headed by an experienced and well-respected BVIslander chosen by us,” Dr Smith said during an address to the territory on Monday.
Opposition gets a pick
The Premier said government would never be ‘comfortable’ if a Virgin Islands native was not heading the said Recovery Agency.
Dr Smith also said Governor Augustus Jaspert fully agrees and consents to have a local at the helm of the Agency.
He added that both government and Opposition will have an opportunity to handpick a member of the Agency so all parties are equally represented.
“It will be comprised of no more than nine persons including one person appointed by the Leader of the Opposition, one person appointed by the government, another appointed by the UK, and persons representing civil society and commerce,” Dr Smith explained.
There has been much commotion about the said Agency that is being set up so the BVI can receive a £300 million loan guarantee from the United Kingdom government.
There is heavy speculation that the Agency is the UK’s way of retaking full control of local governance. But Premier Smith said that is not the case.
He said the Agency is a way of instilling ‘donor confidence’.
“This is international best practice in situations where such extensive damage is experienced in a country,” the Premier said.
CLICK HERE for the Premier’s full statement.
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