Predictable, is how Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has described Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie’s victory parade following the amended and just-passed Recovery and Development Agency Act 2018.
After the controversial legislation passed on Tuesday, Fahie said the Premier and the United Kingdom gave in to the demands and requests from local legislators.
Several legislators had refused to support the Recovery Agency Bill if they were not made privy to the ‘secret documents’ detailing the UK’s high-level framework and conditions for supporting the BVI’s recovery.
“It is amazing, but not surprising that the Leader of the Opposition would claim victory for his participation in the discussion; after all, an election year is just around the corner,” Premier Smith said.
“It is also not surprising that he would regurgitate statements that he has made in the House over the past years, many inaccurate and to which I have responded and will continue to respond when necessary,” he added.
Best interest of BVI
According to the Premier, the National Democratic Party government ‘continues to look after the best interest’ of the territory and its residents.
Premier Smith admitted that he had spoken to Fahie along with other members before the debate about the Recovery Agency Act concluded.
“I am grateful that many of them took heed. This is what is expected of a leader when he is doing something in the best interest of the people,” Dr Smith said.
Much ado about nothing
In terms of the so-called ‘secret documents’, the leader of government business said he had presented ‘all documents that were required’ on the matter to members of the House of Assembly.
“Indeed the demand for “all documents” was much ado about nothing, as members of the public would have realized on hearing the contents,” the Premier added.
The Premier further said the Recovery and Development Agency was nothing new to local legislators.
“The Agency had been discussed on several occasions, between October and November of last year, by all members of the Caucus. Furthermore, there was at least one meeting with all members of the House.”
Dr Smith also wanted to place on record that the decisions on the Bill were all made by the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands before being brought before parliament.
He added that it is ‘standard operating procedure’ for all bills that come to the House of Assembly be debated by members and, where necessary, amended.
Cabinet had engagements with UK
According to the Premier, before having the debate on the Recovery Agency Bill, the Cabinet had continuous engagement with the UK.
He said that was to ensure BVI residents were able to get needed assistance on the best terms. Those terms included an assurance that the BVI’s borrowing guidelines would be reviewed to accommodate the ‘necessary increased loans’ for recovery.
The Premier also reiterated that the BVI would not borrow the full £300 million. He said loans will be sought as necessary, and not in excess of the country’s ability to repay.
Governor to select Chairperson
As it relates to selecting a Chairperson to head the Agency, the country’s leader said Governor Augustus Jaspert will make that selection
He said government made that decision after consulting with the Opposition Leader.
“Finally, contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition said, the composition of the Board was not changed, rather it was agreed that the Leader of the Opposition’s selection would be a youth (a suggestion from my government) and the Premier’s selection would be a member from the sister Islands. Both are important points which would have been addressed in any case,” Dr Smith asserted.
The Premier said he will be hosting a press briefing on the Recovery Agency and related matters later today.
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