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Premier, UK buckles to legislators’ requests on Agency

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith (foreground) and Governor Augustus Jaspert.

By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith and the United Kingdom both yielded to the demands and requests from local legislators who had refused to support the now-passed Recovery and Development Agency legislation if it was not amended.

Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie was one such legislator who had demanded that the Premier reveal the ‘secret documents’ detailing the UK’s high-level framework and conditions for supporting the BVI’s recovery.

Fahie said the Premier ‘somewhat yielded’ to disclose those documents.

UK promises to address concern

The UK, in the meantime, buckled to the Opposition Leader’s concern about how a BVI-UK agreement called the Protocols of Effective Financial Management conflicted with the Agency bill and the mother country’s £300 million loan guarantee offer to the BVI.

“This concern was that the huge amount in loan funds being sought would cause the territory to be outside the allowed ratios of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management document for borrowing. The Premier stated to members that the UK responded to this concern through a March 26, 2018 email to him,” said Fahie.

“It was acknowledged that this concern must be addressed. The UK pledged to have dialogue to allow for such.”

“Having this particular issue addressed and rectified is a major victory for the BVI in many respects, especially financially,” added Fahie in a media release after the Agency bill was passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday.

The bill underwent what Fahie described as ‘major amendments’ since the Premier first presented it in the House of Assembly for debate.

“All were in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands and in the best interest of ensuring accountability, transparency, and independence of political interference of the Board/Agency,” Fahie assured.

The Opposition leader listed some of the amendments to the bill as follows:

1. Cabinet will not approve the Recovery Plan alone but it is now subjected to an Affirmative Resolution of the House of Assembly.

2. The functions of the Board and Agency are well defined and all efforts were exhausted to ensure that they do not conflict with the constitutional powers of ministers and their duties.

3. The Board will ensure the proper implementation of the approved recovery plan through the Agency.

4. The selection of the Chairperson of the Board to include input by the Governor, Premier, and the Leader of the Opposition.

5. Composition of the Board was amended to include a youth to be selected by the Leader of the Opposition, and the Premier to select a person from one of the sister islands.

Only two legislators — Opposition member Julian Fraser and government backbencher Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull— voted against the Recovery Agency bill. Delores Christopher was absent for the vote.

The Recovery Agency bill will allow the BVI to accept the United Kingdom’s loan guarantee of £300 million (more than $400 million) to fund recovery efforts.

Recovery Agency bill passes: Only Fraser, Mitch votes no

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

15 Comments

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  1. Laura says:

    “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”

    I hope that we can now move from the complacency, compromise, and conflict of our Government’s indecision to a confidence founded future filled with rich, satisfying and prosperous outlook for our children.

    Be not fooled, this will not be an easy run.

  2. TurtleDove says:

    Good!…..my issues with it were the hidden documents and constitutional concern. Now lets get to work…Would like to know why Mitch and Frazer still opposed.

    • Foolish says:

      The documents were never hidden, Doc just played them like a fiddle. If you really believe Fahie didn’t see the documents he claimed to be ‘hidden’ then think again.

      • Concern says:

        With all the political grandstanding every jack man (except MT and JF) had to climb down and eat their words! The truth is nobody buckled, the documents/conditions were presented for the very purpose of which they are claiming victory…to be debated and amended. Let the record show that at no point it was presented as FINAL. So they can try to fool folks who are ignorant to the facts, but they can’t fool all of us.

        • @Concern says:

          You sound very stupid! Both Fraser and Mitch will now be seeking their share of the same money they refused and will be seeking support from their constituents with the same monies so what’s the point? They both complained that Government weren’t fixing their district fast enough, they both know Government has no money and they both voted NO. Nothing is wrong with that because of principle? They feel good? That’s it?

  3. Serious says:

    These people must think the voters are stupid these five amendments is what they held out for. A youth on the board duh.

    The house of assembly laws that are passed only goes into effect when the Governor signs off on them and he does not have to he can veto and he is the Chairman of Cabinet.

    These people are just trying to save face and what dialogue will the UK have with a Government and an opposition they dont trust whichis why the board was created in the first place.

    And from when do Orlando and Fahie care so much about protocol that they were refusing money.

    The long and short is that the UK say the board will happened and if the act is not passed the pressure will come down.

  4. laughing says:

    Buckle to what, this is what separates men from boys. The Premier knew all along what he wanted and how to get it, none of this is shocking to him. While everyone calling him soft, clueless, sleepy, he was calmly putting his plan together and he looks like the man among men today with the 10-2 vote. If you think that the Premier expected majority votes without putting out all the information think again. Well played sir! Time to move the Territory forward.

    • Albion says:

      I hope you are right. My great concern is that some people have a taste for making trouble and obstructing because it thinks it makes them look good.

      First time the Committee says “no, we are not going to pay a local contractor who has no relevant skills – instead we are going to get some experts from abroad who have experience and know how to build this thing correctly,” we are going to hear all manner of complaining and grumbling and people generally trying to second guess the committee, or even to manipulate it for their own political purposes.

      I hope I am wrong. But nothing about the way people have behaved so far gives me confidence.

  5. Thoughtful Sailor says:

    She has forfeited any right to re-election, since she managed to be absent from perhaps the most important vote in years.

  6. Concern says:

    I know Hon. Fahie would want us to believe that the UK/Premier buckled. However, the truth is that the documents/conditions were presented for the very purpose of which they are now claiming victory…to be debated and amended if necessary. Let the record show that at no point was it presented as FINAL. In fact, if what they are suggesting is the truth – somebody please explain to me why the UK “HAD” to buckle TO HELP the BVI… So they can try to fool folks who are ignorant to the facts, but they can’t fool all of us. I am so embarrassed with the behavior of some of those who opposed the bill as they disrespected each other, the United Kingdom and this territory. I can easily argue my concerns with the bill without having to accuse the UK of coming to take over our precious BVI or insinuating that the premier has nefarious intentions.

  7. Clearly says:

    We are suffering from p— leadership at the top.

  8. SMDH says:

    I don’t know why you all think the Premier is a hero. My opinion: The man has digged us in this ditch.

    • voiceofthevoiceless says:

      @SMDH

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. For 6 years his administration has cost us millions due to reckless and questionable spending whether it be 30 million plus at the Pier park or 7million to some fantasy in the sky airline that never became reality it is them who brought us to the edge of the cliff. Zero audited statements for their 6 years and we still are yet to see the audit report from the Pier park.

      If we are truthful to ourselves both VIP and NDP have cost us millions.

      How soon we forget. Let us hope this Agency will provide the proper oversight to ensure that we get the best value for our money.

  9. Killmonger says:

    THIS IS ALL A SHAM! THEY MADE THE BILL RIDICULOUS ENOUGH TO BE AMENDED. THIS WAS EXPECTED SMH THEY REALLY TAKE THE GENERAL PUBLIC FOR TOOLS SMH.

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