Premier Andrew Fahie has revealed more about the state of the BVI’s economy, stating that the territory has been able to avoid a $57 million budget deficit that was initially projected for due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking in an interview with ZBVI radio, Premier Fahie said the projected multi-million-dollar deficit first announced back in August when he presented a supplementary budget to the House of Assembly.
“I gave a state of the territory’s finances in the House Of Assembly and I was utmostly surprised when I heard that the Premier is not doing so. I did that when we were doing the supplementary budget. At that time, I stated that if we continued to collect the shortfall that we were collecting, we were on the verge of having a $57 million deficit … given that all industries were closed,” Premier Fahie said.
Zero deficit by year’s end
However, he said based on his government’s handling of the territory’s stained income streams, the BVI is now positioned to “significantly and almost totally” cut down the the projected deficit.
“We have used the revised budget based on the income and … now we are moving towards having a zero deficit by the end of the year because of how we have been able to manage the finances of the territory,” Premier Fahie said.
He didn’t give a figure to indicate the territory’s current deficit but he reminded persons that certain sectors within the BVI economy were struggling before COVID-19.
Fahie said one of those sectors was the financial services, which he said came under pressure because the 2019/2020 protests in Hong Kong.
“And I dare to say that there is no country in the world that can say they have survived this COVID-19 in a different way from how we are doing it. We do not want persons out there trying to insinuate that it’s because of poor management. It was not in our view that in 2020, we’d have to deal with COVID-19,” Premier Fahie stated.
How COVID hit local economy
The BVI’s borders have been closed to visitors for more than seven months due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the territory. This closure severely affected the tourism industry which contributes some 40 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
A number of businesses also had to reduce their hours due to curfews imposed to prevent the spread of the virus. This has led to a rise in unemployment across the territory.
With a significant drop in the number of COVID-19 cases, the BVI is scheduled to reopen to visitors on December 1.
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