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Change House of Assembly policies for loans

Legislators in the House of Assembly late last year.

The territory’s Opposition Leader, Andrew Fahie wants an amendment to the ‘status quo’ on how funds are borrowed on behalf of the British Virgin Islands.

His call comes weeks after the House of Assembly approved for government to borrow $65 million from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). Only six of 13 parliamentarians (the minimum majority) voted in favour of the loan.

Fahie complained that government was allowed to increase the territory’s national debt without demonstrating accountability or transparency.

“We are going to have to change the rules for the House of Assembly in that before you can go to negotiate a loan you have to come to the House to explain what you are going for the loan for, the amount, and a detailed listing of what it is you are proposing to approach any bank with,” he told BVI News yesterday.

“Don’t just to come back when we have done it. The House of Assembly has to approve the loan.”

Seven days to come clean

And while speaking at an annual event in the First Electoral District on Sunday, Fahie also demanded that government ‘come clean’ with residents.

“Let us be straight-up on this one. I am calling on the Minister of Finance (Premier Dr D Orlando Smith), and I demand that within seven days he give a detailed breakdown of how the $65 million loan from CDB will be spent, how it will be monitored, and give us the names of each of the members of the board who will be charged with monitoring the fund. The people demand answers,” Fahie said.

Asked about his plans if the Finance Minister does not comply, Fahie responded: “We will just hold with that for now.”

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3 Comments

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  1. GOOD says:

    It is about time that this is done.

  2. Eagle and Buffalo says:

    The current funding of projects definitely needs a reboot. Currently, budget passed, HOA have little input on expenditure on Operations and Maintenance and capital projects. Conversely,government has almost full control on how money is spent; true, ministers are also members of HOA (awkward and self serving). To correct this disconnect, proposed the following changes.

    1. HOA approved budget for Operations and Maintenance and capital projects;
    2. Budgets allocated to departments;
    3. Any project equal to or greater than $100K should be taken to HOA for approval. Policies should be put in place to prevent actions to separate projects to avoid going to the HOA. 90 days before an election (date certain for election is needed), at least a 2/3 HOA vote should be required to approve a project ( genuine emergency should be the exception);
    4. Premier be given the authority for a genuine emergency to circumvent the HOA for projects equal to or greater than $100K. An emergency will have to be declared and HOA apprised. Emergencies: to protect life and property, to protect critical operations/functions……..etc.; and
    5. Purchasing Department empowered to declare genuine emergency for projects less than $100K. Premier apprised of emergencies.

    Moreover, HOA should authorize pursuing loans before government goes out to secure them. HOA should authorize and appropriate funding for any loans. Loans should be used for intended purposes. Gifts less than $100K can be accepted by Premier but HOA should be apprised. Gifts equals to or greater than $100K should be accepted by the HOA. The above or similarly proposed changes will require HOA to meet at least once per week.

    Let’s lead like eagles, not careen off the cliff like buffaloes.

    • Political Observer (PO) says:

      @E&B, suggestions are worth exploring. But they will end up in File 13 (Thrash Can). Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will——Frederick Douglass.

      In regards to the HOA firstly approving authorization to secure loans, it should be a standard operating procedure. The HOA is the board of directors; they set policy and government administer the policies. As you mentioned, it is an awkward situation, for some are members of the HOA and government.

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