BVI News

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BVI still in control even with UK-mandated Agency — Premier

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith (foreground) and Governor Augustus Jaspert at a press conference yesterday.

By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has said the Recovery and Development Agency that is being implemented will not stop local government from continuing to manage its own affairs.

The Agency is being set up so the BVI can receive a £300 million loan guarantee from the United Kingdom government.

The Agency will have complete control over all funds directed towards local recovery.

When confronted with questions about whether establishing the Agency is the UK’s way of seizing more control of the BVI, the Premier said: “That’s far from the truth”.

“The British Virgin Islands government is responsible for managing the country under the leadership of the Premier as we have continued to do.”

“We need to have our recovery done as quickly and as accountable as possible and so, therefore, the BVI government is setting up this Agency to assist in getting this work done,” added the Premier whose sentiments received support from Governor Augustus Jaspert.

UK and BVI equally represented on Agency 

While speaking at a media conference yesterday, the Premier announced that the Agency will comprise a chairman, a deputy chairman, and up to two representatives each from the BVI and UK governments.

The Agency will also comprise two representatives from major donor agencies such as the Caribbean Development Bank, as well as a representative from the business community and the civil society.

Agency must report to public

The Agency is being set up through legislation and will only be established once it is approved in the House of Assembly.

“The Agency will have the responsibility to use the funds from a trust for the British Virgin Islands Recovery and Development effort only. [It] will, by statute, be required to report to the public in the most transparent and coherent manner the activities associated with the agency’s recovery efforts,” the Premier said yesterday.

He added: “Such reporting will include accounting for the disbursement of those funds under the implementation of priority activities and initiatives, and the operational costs of the Agency itself. The Agency’s sole responsibility is to be accountable to all stakeholders for the implementation of the plan through an effective, efficient, and transparent process.”

Agency monitored by board

The Premier said a board will also be set up to oversee the Agency, which will have a five to seven-year mandate.

In the meantime, Dr Smith said he has authorised a temporary ‘working group’ to run ongoing recovery efforts until the Agency is officially established.

“On my instruction, a working group has been working through the intricacies that will be required for the Agency to be stood up, through informal gatherings for the past month or so,” Dr Smith explained.

CEO the Financial Services Commission Dr Robert Mathavious is chairing the said ‘working group’.

Other persons that have been selected to sit on the ‘working group’ are Brodrick Penn, Sharleen DaBreo, Maria Mays, David Morris, Clarence Faulkner, Clyde Lettsome and at least two other persons including a Virgin Gorda representative.

Dr Robert Mathavious

Copyright 2018 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

29 Comments

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  1. Janet says:

    It sounds like it’s been carefully put together and thought about and by having a UK representive it instills confidence. I’m looking forward to seeing the results and I hope no crazy schemes along the way.

    • Correct says:

      Let’s be honest here. These are the same ministers that threw away 7 million dollars on a bad investment in an defunct airline.

      Why didn’t they sue BVI Airlines? Does BVI Airlines know something we don’t about where our money went? Let’s extradite them and get them to testify here!

      • Sue me for what says:

        This whole debate about where the funds went on BVI Airways is getting a bit long in the tooth. What do you expect to recover? There are no assets. The money basically went because the whole process took far longer than expected in terms of getting approvals for the flights. The planes were leased and have now probably been handed back, the staff of BVI Airways were paid and the application fees for regulatory approvals were probably paid. Quite simply, as BVI Airways had fixed costs and no revenue to offset same, it just ran out of money. The Government could have tipped in more cash, as BVI Airways requested, but chose not to. There is no pot of cash squirreled away somewhere. Therefore if they did sue, who are they going to sue and what is the expected recovery. The answer is a bit fat doughnut aka zero. It has been spent. Move on or put in more cash to resurrect the venture.

        • @ Sue Me says:

          People always talk shit and don’t understand! Government and BVIAirways should have known that there is no way $7Mil could start up an Airline trying to fly to the USA direct, with all the requirements and costs involved. A reasonable figure would be more along the lines of $50 mil for a turn key proper service from EIS to/from MIA direct.

        • Albion says:

          So what are you saying? We should overlook the crass delinquency of this administration when it came to investing a significant amount of public funds despite conducting no due diligence whatsoever, and that lack of due diligence – predictably – led to a total loss of that money?

          We just forgive and forget, and all vote NDP at the next election like it never happened?

          Strupes.

        • Detective Long Tooth says:

          We want to recover information. 1) Where did you spend our money? 2) Did you pay any finder fees? 3) How do we know if there aren’t any assets if you don’t release this information? 4) How could you spend so much of our money without a plan to operate the airline? 5) Based on the information you provide, if we determine that our money wasn’t spent properly, will you give it back to us?

          Next step – submit all agreements and financial reports to this fine newspaper for them to publish. OK?

          This was a public investment. We have a right to know.

          • Follow the money says:

            Why haven’t the ministers shared the financial reports with us? Considering this company’s association with another airline that raised millions from investors but never took off, we need an investigation. Were our ministers bamboozeld or were we?

        • Watcher says:

          Methinks he doth protest too much.

          How much were the managers and owners of BVI Airways paid throughout this process.?

          Under English law if there is malfeasance by directors , those same directors may be personally liable for company debts.

          And I seriously doubt those directors and owners are broke. In fact I suspect they are sitting very pretty indeed.

          They may not have gotten away with it.

      • Watching says:

        The Government doesn’t want to extradite anyone. They are afraid that bringing anyone within the public view might indicate where the $7mil went. Why would a government provide funds for a private company. If planes were bought where are they?

    • Albion says:

      Let’s be honest. If we let Government ministers control all those millions of dollars, we all know EXACTLY what will happen next. They just can’t help themselves.

  2. nick says:

    that’s where the problem is:”the bvi government is responsible for managing the country”.
    6 months pass and still no light at the end of the tunnel (fix the roads,sewage,beaches……).

    • Watching says:

      People can’t get settlements from their insurance companies but the some ministers have gotten paid and they all have more money in their pockets than ever. Time for the UK to step in.

  3. John Locke Rousseau says:

    Hon. Premier, your words to the effect of “us,” the B.V.I. government, being in control will be taken with some reason-ability.

    However, many are living today with a great amount of pessimism as to the validity of those statements.

    The amount of control we do exhibit appear fragile; the inability of us to control and benefit from our own “top jobs” of the country for ourselves, and the historic tentacles that still have a strangle hold on our destiny as free people, suggest that we are a people with no real governmental, political, economic or social freedoms, and that which we do think we have can be taken away at the free will of an absentee superficial owner..

    All (people(s) have the inalienable right to be free, just as the Europeans, Brits, Americans and other are.

    Why can’t some in England recognize that basic human right fact?

    • Facts right says:

      Let’s be serious here. The UK is “guaranteeing” the loan. Everyone knows that it will never get repaid and the UK will be called upon when the guarantee in. I don’t know why the UK doesnt just loan the cash directly, maybe a policy issue and the fact that BVI GDP is higher than that in the UK. All optics. So that being said, consider the UK is a bank and you asked for a loan and they said “Ok, but what is it for.” If you said “I am going to spend it all on lollipops” do you think the bank would lend the money. Same thing happening here. This isn’t about trying to take over (why would they), it is about governance and transparency. The people of the BVI want to see this money put to good use and not squandered or ending up in a brown paper bag.

      • @ Facts says:

        The BVI has NEVER defaulted on their loans and won’t start now. Do some research on where the UK are politically and economically and get back to me. The UK has always underwritten the BVI borrowing by design. All that’s happening now is that they’re outright guaranteeing a particular amount for a particular situation (disaster) and want to see it managed properly, what’s wrong with that? The UK/FCO sends the Governor here but does that mean the Premier isn’t still the leader? So what’s the fuss with the agency being put in place and all this gloom and doom nonsense? You guys that shout the most about corruption and brown paper bags are the ones behind the scenes, behind closed doors doing the most begging and wheeling and dealing so hush.

        • Facts right says:

          You seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet as me. I am asking for transparency, but there are certain elements whom seem to see this as an affront their liberty. If the money is spent wisely then everyone will benefit. Your comment was quite pleasing until you spoilt it by your last sentence. Hush, really? Debate is a good thing and the reason that there is a comments section.

        • Albion says:

          True – BVI has never defaulted on its loans before. But then again, it has never borrowed such a huge amount – three times its annual budget – before. It has never had to deal with this kind of catastrophic drop in income before as a result of a hurricane.

          I think the UK is correct to be highly circumspect about the risk of default here.

  4. Ah boy says:

    Another set of words close to the truth but not there yet.

  5. People says:

    Don’t be fooled. The project funds and tender must be approved by the UK.

  6. Truth says:

    All of this we have to go through because neither the UK nor the people of the BVI trust the NDP when it comes to money.

  7. Retired says:

    The Recovery & Development Agency(R&DA)appears to comprise at least 8 individuals plus another 8 individuals named in the above news report. My questions are:

    1)Why so many people? It appears to be a ship with too many captains.
    2)Is there an annual salary for these R&DA members?
    3)If yes then why is there an annual salary and what is the amount for each member?
    4)Who pays the annual salary? The UK? BVI government? R&DA trust? Who?
    5)It appears that some of the individuals named in this news report already have a full time job with the government so why are their names on this list if they already have a full time government job?

  8. Concerned says:

    Honorable Premier and others in government; STOP arguing and just accept and get moving. The next hurricane season is not as far away as Irma was. Act, stop talking. The UK is going to make BVI do right and it is about time.

  9. Diplomat says:

    This is just spin and make believe, Brer Anasi tory. No amount spinning can change the reality on the ground. At best, it is a cheap wobbly top spinning. True, the UK is reluctantly guaranteeing/co-signing the $300M recovery loan. But are there any doubts that the UK does not have a high level of confidence in how the VI manages it financial resources? The former Governor (Duncan) told the world that before he left.

    The former Guv was concerned about transparency and accountability. And as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, he communicated his concern to his successor and to the FCO. The Board resulted from a lack of confidence and trust. The UK is protecting its interest.

    Why is government piece mealing the release of the names on the board? Should it not fully staffed the board and then release the names. The names released so far are rather interesting. Hope that the HOA has a serious discussion on the Board’s composition and not just rubber stamp it.

    • Bam says:

      Reluctantly? They came out right after and approved the borrowing. How you guys can make up s**t and come on here typing it so eloquently is amazing. The UK is not afraid to step in and take over when shit is going wrong as they have done it before. Stop the fear mongering and acting like nothing good is happening in the BVI under the Government.

  10. Sam the man says:

    The No Direction Party can’t be trusted that’s evident for all to see and that is why the UK have stepped in to assist and provide at least some reasonable control, accountability and transparency otherwise it would be yet another NDP FU!!

  11. Love that 1st Picture says:

    Caption

    “Your move Premier, Let me see you talk … now ”

    enough is enough

    #stopStallingProgress

  12. Overpaid says:

    Who is the man sitting on the left in the picture?

  13. Boo says:

    Chek Guv. He watching lando like you awake still?

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