By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
It is not globally uncommon for an initiative spearheaded by one government leader to be shelved when another leader succeeds him/her.
But, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said he is confident that will not be the case for his highly-touted Airport Expansion Project when the next National Democratic Party (NDP) leader takes office.
It is expected the project will not be under Premier Smith’s leadership through to its completion since Dr Smith plans to step aside as NDP leader. He will demit office within a year.
The Smith-led airport project involves recruiting investors to develop the TB Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island. In exchange, those investors will operate the airport for roughly 20 years before returning control to the BVI government.
Dr Smith said once the NDP is elected as the governing party for a third consecutive term, that strategy will continue as planned.
“Oh yes,” said Premier Smith while responding to questions on whether he thinks his successor will continue on his prized airport project.
“I think there is a general acceptance by the government, in fact, by the people of this country that there needs to be an expansion of the airport.”
He further said, “there will be no impact on the timeline” of the project despite a change of leadership in the NDP.
Journalists put questions to the Premier about the continuity of the airport project given the opposition he had received for the project – even within his government – in early 2017.
Lawmakers from both the government and parliamentary opposition agreed the airport expansion was necessary. But, some have questioned whether the BVI is able to afford the project, at the time. Even months before any inkling of hurricanes Irma and Maria, these lawmakers said they believed more pressing issues should take priority.
In the meantime, Premier Smith – who recently returned from a business tour of Asia – said he met with at least one person who is willing to invest in the airport.
He said discussions are in the primitive stages and, therefore, declined to disclose any additional information on the matter.
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