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UK ‘very disappointed’ in BVI’s progress to fix public facilities

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith (left) and UK minister for Overseas territories, Lord Tariq Ahmad. (BVI News photo)

The United Kingdom government reportedly is displeased with the progress of repairs in key sections and sectors of the British Virgin Islands.

Deputy Premier Dr Kedrick Pickering said UK minister responsible for Overseas Territories Lord Tariq Ahmad had expressed his displeasure when he visited the territory a month ago.

“When he was here, he was very disappointed that there wasn’t much more done with public infrastructure – roads, police, fire, port, the administration building,” said Dr Pickering during the Honestly Speaking radio programme this week.

Dr Pickering, however, noted that the funds were just not available for local government to fix public infrastructure.

That is because the $65 million loan government has borrowed from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has been tied up in procedures aimed at ensuring accountability and transparency in how the funds are spent.

Chairman-elect of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Myron Walwyn recently suggested the duration of these procedures as unreasonable and inconvenient for the BVI.

We must follow the CDB’s way of doing business

But, during a statement on Wednesday, leader of the NDP government, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said his administration is obligated to respect the bank’s policies.

“Anybody who takes loans from the CDB they must follow the CDB’s way of doing business as it thus take a long time. We have been discussing with the CDB the idea of trying to shorten those periods and we’ve continued to discuss that with them but that is one of the reasons why we decide to put the Recovery & Development Agency in place.”

Dr Smith further said he was generally satisfied with the progress of territorial recovery.

“As a territory, we got out there in the early stages and did the emergency repairs and have continued towards full restoration of the territory to be better, greener, and smarter. There was some delays in the private sector particularly because of insurance claims, etcetera. But, as you go long the territory, you’ll notice that many buildings, homes, and businesses are under construction and repair,” he said.

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58 Comments

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  1. Citizen says:

    Hmm…

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    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Premier what did you do to assure proper payment by the Insurance Companies. They laughed at everyone, even the government. You just allowed them to continue doing business and robbing the people. Disgusting!!! You should be ashamed of yourself. Your elected to protect the people and the expats. You want rebuilding then the insurance companies should be forced to pay what’s rightfully do or close them up and jail the people responsibile. Instead you ignore the entire thing and take no responsibility

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  2. mainland says:

    Just a bunch of jargon Premier.

    “As a territory, we got out there in the early stages and did the emergency repairs and have continued towards full restoration of the territory to be better, greener, and smarter”.

    Empty words that sound good.

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  3. Eagle eye says:

    The reason why the territory recovering slow is because every project cost millions to fix and even in a time of devastation they wouldn’t stop the theifing.

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  4. Sam the man says:

    The usual predictable BS from Dr Pickering – the fact is the NDP are inept – fact ! “couldn’t organize a piss up in a brewery” kind of ineptness…they have been scratching their heads trying to think up and excuse for why the UK has criticized the slow recovery….and now they have it…..it’s the UK’s fault not theirs! because they can’t access the loan money!!!! and why’s that? because they refuse to comply with the lenders strict requirements – nah that don’t suit the “No Direction Party” how do we grease the wheels, facilitate the process, dish out the usual percentages then!!!
    Next it’ll be blame the UK for all the upsurge in crime and everyone leaving!

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  5. Hmmm says:

    Is the Deputy Premier being a saboteur? Is he trying to taint his current administration before moving to a different party? Enquiring minds want to know!

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  6. NSS says:

    He’s not alone in his disappointment.

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  7. Half the Story says:

    What’s not being said here NDP? It’s not the full story and the governor and Lord Ahmad knows that.

    Banks don’t want the liability nor risk of losing their funds. And why is this? Let’s look at the record of NDP and pork spending.

    Let’s consider Ms Webster’s report on government audit financial report. None for years.

    BVI is actually losing capital over last 7 years from NHI, tourism, offshore banking, and general instability cause by socioeconomic, changes regionally and globally.

    Top this off with a weak political leadership and you are heading into a depression and inflation for most things.

    Send help U.K.

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    • Hodge podge says:

      If the bank wouldn’t lend to the government because of years of smoke and mirrors then the honourable thing to do would be step down and to put a government in place that is trustworthy and with whom the bank felt comfortable with. An interim UK government would of secured funds and have whipped this place into shape months ago, the cruise ships would of been back and roads would be rebuilt properly. Then an election could of taken place with the country straight. It’s about fixing this country not stupid pride, black or white.

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      • Opinion says:

        Very sad to say I could not agree more.
        Such a lost opportunity and financial loss for so many. How did all the other Irma affected countries get “back up n running” so quickly?
        A year later and no main police station even…….
        No wonder folks are leaving so fast.

        Sometimes you just have to accept help in the short term to progress in the long term.

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      • Washington says:

        Where is the audit?

  8. (=) says:

    the premier seems to be delusional. he always says the opposite of what is happening! one day of rain, and we are flooded. flood problem will not go away if nothing is being done. it so depressing to see the current state of the country. if you are good leaders, you should do something about it even with limited funding! you seem to have heart of stones and you also seem to have as well the prevalent “don’t care”, you don’t seem to care at all.

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  9. Us too says:

    We also are disappointed at the lack of progress and lame leadership. Party is over. Good old days are gone. We never investef properly in education so the pool of future potential leaders is small indeed.

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  10. concern says:

    Uk alone? Residents are more disappointed and worried that nothing is being done. It certainly creates uncertainty with regards to economic growth and other progress in bvi.
    Simple little things could have gotten fix a long time eg traffic lights. The bussiness community in wickhams cay 2 are disgusted by the situation. Have to drive all the way west to roundabout in order to go to rite way, purcell or even sports club. This is totally unaceptable

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    • Rubber Duck says:

      The road system in the ironically named Road Town is a total mess. We do not need traffic lights, get rid of them. They have no place in a tropical paradise. A sensible one way system and mini roundabouts would sort it out.

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      • Sam the man says:

        don’t be ridiculous the “No Direction Party” need the contracts to cream off from they don’t actually care if it works…

  11. Business vibe says:

    The UK should also be disappointed in the way the BVI government treated the business community. No assistance, financial, technical,non prosecution of police officers participating in the looting along with other individuals and I could go on and on. Without Business you have no economy.

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  12. Hear me out says:

    If the government had gone out there in the early stage and done all that was said how is it that the schools on the western end of the island is still not functional ant the rest of gov/inforstructure not in line with the premiere’s speach.as of the end of August majority still not close to being start/0r finshed. How is that so

  13. Cap says:

    The USVI just received 145 million dollars in grant funding from the US and they didn’t even get hit as hard as the BVI.

    A similar injection/investment for us here in the BVI would work wonders in assisting with our recovery efforts.

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    • Huh? says:

      Yes. With a grant you don’t have to pay it back and you also don’t have to provide your financials. Problem is the UK would like some accountability and transparency. They’ve been asking for it for years. Why should they just hand over millions to politicians who keep threatening to go independent?

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    • Uncle Buck says:

      The UK offered a very nice deal for the BVI in the way of a loan guaranteed by the UK. All they wanted in return was some transparency with how local government go about their business. Not too unreasonable when so much money is at stake, even less unreasonable when you consider that the UK taxpayers will be the one’s paying the loan off.

  14. GOOD IDEA says:

    LET’S GIVE THE NEW PARTY {PU} A CHANCE..sick and fed up with NDP and VIP because they both failed this country.

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  15. 2 Grand says:

    to the uk I ask what have u done for me (vi) lately ? and to the local govt where are our squandered resources. wasted time and money our goose is cooked.

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  16. Political Observer (PO) says:

    It pains the heart and embarrassing to say it but in local colloquialism the NDP is “less.” The national pride is lacking and residents are painfully aching. The NDP performed poorly and operated close to a failed government after the storm; it is almost one year after Hurricane Irma hit but the resiliency is as slow as molasses. The slow response, slow progress can be attributed to poor planning, no planning. The NDP let the territory and residents down. Residents deserved more from their government but didn’t get much; we too are disappointed. The poor suffering residents need some relief.

    Moreover, Lord Tariq Ahmad is disappointed but so too should the Hon Pickering and the whole NDP gang; the residents too are frustratingly disappointed. Enough of the pity. What is going to be done and when? Clearly, the NDP lacked the competence, capacity, capability……..etc to make things happened. The HOA is prorogued and it is time to set an election date and let the people vote to form a new government. In the interim, the UK though hesitant may need to get more engaged to help it (BVI) through this difficult and crisis situation.

    Further, what is the tall pole in the tent that is holding up the release of the CDB loan funds? This is not the BVI’s first CDB loan so what is the hold up? Enough of the excuses. Let’s get at it.

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    • Windy says:

      Would you offer an unsecured loan to BVI ? Don’t think so. I know I wouldn’t. The government won’t except a loan that requires them to be accountable as to how the monies are spent.

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      • Biggie says:

        Remember after the storm, the ministers, or at least the big chief minister, insisted that we (he) move forward with the $300 million investment in extending the runway before fixing the broken schools, roads, water, electricity, slow internet. Was that because the airport involved a kick back?

        Maybe they don’t know how to take action if it doesn’t involve taking their 10% and the banks now won’t let them do that.

        How much money did they get from BVI Airways? All our money flew away, and everything is still broken here.

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      • @windy says:

        Unsecured? I thought it was backed by the UK government so they should be aware of, instead of disappointed in, the reason why there has been little recovery. Maybe I understood wrong.

        Premier says that’s why the recovery agency, headed by the $350,000 a year CEO, was put in place. Wha happen, the CEO don’t know what to do to appease the bank in this time of recovery? With that salary, I expect him to do everything (sarcasm intended).

        Our government is so clever and competent (sarcasm intended again).

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  17. Kinte says:

    The reason for the slow recovery is the thieves dont want oversight of any kind.
    There only interest just like a pig is to get there belly full they could care less about the territory.

    And it dosent matter if they are the goverment or the opposition both sets aim are rhe same. Thats why they argued against the BRITISH GOVERMENT having oversight over money tha British were giving them.

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  18. Silent says:

    That statement coming from the U.K. rep is a slap in the face. They have shown very little interest in our recovery so why should they act surprised.

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    • wrong says:

      Sorry Silent you are totally wrong and miss informed. UK gov offered to brig materials and trades to fix things , BVI Gov said no and just wanted the money, USA made a similar offer that sorted out USVI. BVI gov said no and just wanted the money. WHO DO YOU THINK PAID for the ELECTRICAL system on BVI to be restored. ???? UK tax payers would go mad if they knew the truth. its not a slap in the face is exasperated frustration at BVI

  19. Wowww says:

    Recovery taking to slow because NDP is thefting the money

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  20. Strupes says:

    That money they used for festival could’ve helped in repairing the fire station and school but nooo they just doing wth they want

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  21. Funny says:

    And once the CDB and other funding is released and the place is rebuilt, NDP will be voted back in next year and all the naysayers will be quiet. Don’t believe me? Just watch!

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  22. CW says:

    Not so much talk about Independence now is there?

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  23. Please says:

    So shocked that they are disappointed.

  24. Fon sei yu says:

    You guys always up to some ship. You signed agreements then delay, stall, delay for no good reason. You went to borrow, you had a plan before you borrow, you agree to the terms before you sign now have a whole set of excuses why nothing is being done. Btw what is being done at the ESHS plant? Is there plans to save the blown down structures? Do you need to do an inventory before the place is cleared? What a site for stoic eyes eh! You got bull dozers, backhoes, wreckers and enough drivers to clean the property but have not done so. Do you honestly need to contract out the clearing of garbage? Looks to me like a bunch of brite boys can’t chart a course forward but most of us know that you guys have tricks like magicians.

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  25. /////// says:

    I think everybody but the NDP, their cronies and their blind followers are BEYOND DISAPPOINTED.

  26. Truths&Rights says:

    BVI is by far the worst place I have been to in my entire life. Instead of moving fwd the nation is moving backwards, take for example the situation in VG with scotia bank. With no physical bank, debit cards being decline due to system error and no working atm machines, I must say dark times are really ahead. It’s basically a year since Irma and it’s like the country try is moving further back. Development is lacking in all areas.

  27. Ausar says:

    Will Lord Ahmad and his Kingdom give the billions to these islands what America gave to their Virgin Islands for post-Irmaria repairs?

    This is the only statement that I am interested in hearing from that Lord!

    Get with the Kingdom, Lord, and stop wasting this country’s time with scripted, actionless speeches..

    Thank you!

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  28. What? says:

    Lock up the leaders who have filled their pockets with our money before the storm. Why are our schools still broken? Is it the UK’s fault? No, the leaders gave away all our money to the airport and airline. How much of that went in their pockets instead of rebuilding our schools? They need to return our money so we can rebuild our schools.

  29. Huh? @Cap says:

    Yes. With a grant you don’t have to pay it back and you also don’t have to provide your financials. Problem is the UK would like some accountability and transparency. They’ve been asking for it for years. Why should they just hand over millions to politicians who keep threatening to go independent?

    • Cap says:

      Really? Please point me to one news story where the UK indicated that they were standing by to provide a grant to the BVI but did not do so due to lack of transparency and accountability on our part.

      The BVI has always operated under high standards for accountability. For example, after the Financial Crisis and the threats of financial instability to the EU posed by Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, the BVI was one of the first, if not the first Overseas Territory to adopt Protocols for Effective Financial Management in the region in order to ease the UK’s concerns about further contingent liabilities.

      Again, after the crises of last September the BVI Government created the ring-fenced Recovery and Development Agency to handle disaster recovery funds.

      Contrary to some of the paid bloggers’ posts, our Territory has a strong very track record of accountability and transparency. What we definitely need to do now is bring the Government’s annual financial audits up to date and move on!

      I believe the real reason our “mother-country” has not offered a significant amount of grant money is because we have always proven to be resilient and self-sufficient “children”. That said however, I think it is wrong for Lord Ahmad to make such a statement and not offer to provide a significant amount of funds to help spur on our recovery journey.

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      • Ain’t misbehaving says:

        @cap Nobody paid me. You obviously live in a different world than we do.
        Our leaders have crippled us through their grotesque level of misspending, lack of due diligence and self dealing. Perhaps we could have become self sufficient under competent leaders. But today our country is broken and our elected leaders have gone nothing to fix it.
        Have you seen the fire our leaders can’t put out?
        Have you seen the broken schools?
        Have you seen the broken roads?
        Have you seen the broken power supply?
        Have you seen the broken water supply?
        Have you seen the slow and broken internet services?
        You obviously haven’t experienced our world first hand.

        PS our current leaders lack accountability. Orlando hasn’t issued an audited statement in several years.

      • Hilary Oos says:

        You must be one of the true believers in the financial service industry. So intelligent and yet so … gullible.
        First, all the actions the BVI has instigated to show how clean our financial industry is have been done because we are and have always been a jurisdiction known for dirty money. You can slice it however you want but it doesn’t change the fact that this is our reputation because there is enormous evidence going back decades to show that we have been a major portal through which ill gotten gains just disappear.
        The whole “the BVI has proven to be so resilient” point is just mumu talk based on deluded patriotism. It bears no relationship to reality. We are not this great hashtag strong territory. We are a corrupt society whose rotten core was exposed by Irma.
        And yes, I love my territory. My form of patriotism involves honest truths, not wishful falsehoods.

  30. Concerned says:

    Accountability: what I really want to know who signed the water contract with the company from Florida, was that before or after the BiWater Contracts. And then supposedly the people contracted with did not get any access to Paraquita Bay to fulfill their contract and went to court and then walked away with 20 Million of the Taxpayers money.
    I also would like to know what the 90 Million financing agreement for Prospect Reef is all about. Is the taxpayer expected to pay these 90 Million back because I see no way for Prospect Reef to make that money to pay back. Government has no call to be in the Hotel business that White Elephant Prospect Reef needs to be auctioned off to recover at least some of the ill-spent money.

  31. in debt, the point? says:

    Now we have made it so far over a year without access to those *loans*. what was the point of putting ourselves in debt a year, possibly three years later or more, when we needed that money right away after the storm.

    Now it seems to be one more debt to pay back. a loan that has yet to help anyone.

    Can it be possible for the government to make profit? and then use those EARNED funds to build up the territory.

    While grateful for the help offered, those loans come with conditions, and require being paid back.

    we have to stop putting chains around our necks.

    some persons saw this disaster as an opportunity to enslave us once again, they want us to owe them so we keep quiet when they want to take advantage of us.

    The borrower is slave to the lender. This is age old wisdom.

    When can we fight for our freedom, fight for our own voice to be confident in governing ourselves and shape the islands into *our* paradise.

    We need to legalize, we need to stop eating off each other, we need to eat off the people who are offering us loans when they come here to vacation!

    Make a plan to accumulate the vast wealth that lies abroad, if we take in what they bring we here will all be able to live lavish.

    Let us make this island into a proper tourist trap!!

    They get a vacation out of this world, and we get wealthy, everyone gets what they want and no one gets scammed.

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