Government member Delores Christopher said she would have voted against the Recovery and Development Agency bill had she been present on the day of the vote.
Christopher said she was absent on decision day because of illness.
While speaking on radio recently, Christopher said: “It was not a deliberate thing on my part … I was really feeling very ill, and it is a laborious task to sit in the House [of Assembly] all day.”
“However, that being the case, I want to say that my position is still the same. My vote would have been emphatically no,” she added.
The bill passed in parliament after Premier Dr D Orlando Smith agreed to make amendments to appease legislators who were initially against the bill.
While accepting that some changes were made the Recovery Agency bill, Christopher said she is still cautious of ‘those claiming they want to help the BVI’.
She did not specify whom she was referring to.
“I am not even aware of all the changes that were made [to the bill] but when you look at the whole picture … and how it purports to operate, I can’t [support the bill],” she reasoned.
Pay attention, our rights eroding
Christopher continued by warning residents.
“I want to say to people: as we go forward, let’s pay attention to the changes that will be taking place in our country as a result of policies that will come forward – the erosion of our rights and freedoms as a people.”
“Let’s pay attention to our economy … This is an important matter. I still have my concerns over the Agency and how it will operate. We still don’t know the terms and all the conditions.”
What about residents suggestions for recovery plan?
In the meantime, Christopher has also questioned when government’s proposed recovery plan will be updated to include suggestions from residents.
Residents were allowed to give feedback on the plan during a series of public consultations put by government weeks ago.
“People raised a number of concerns they wanted to see in that recovery plan. I would like to see when the people’s concerns are going to be inserted and when that plan is going to come out what the final outcome will be,” Christopher said.
Government has an indicative cost of $721 million to fund the recovery plan, and the Agency will have full control over the monies that will be used to finance the plan.
Part of that $721 million would be from grants and government borrowings, and the United Kingdom has offered a £300 million loan guarantee so the BVI can borrow the monies needed to finance its recovery plan.
However, the BVI would not have been able to benefit from the offer if it did not pass the aforementioned UK-mandated Recovery Agency bill.
It passed in the House of Assembly on March 27 with a majority 10-2 vote.
Opposition member Julian Fraser and government backbencher Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull are the only two legislators that voted against the bill.
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