While delivering his 2018 Christmas message, Opposition legislator Julian Fraser has a painted grim picture of the BVI’s economy.
He pointed to the current state of the territory’s finances and what he suggests would be an unfavourable future.
“Just this year we had to borrow money to balance our budget. That was a historical first. It meant that we are making less money than we need to support ourselves. The definition for any country that has to borrow money to pay for its operations is ‘broke’,” Fraser said.
He then noted government’s of $580 million Recovery and Development Plan; a large chunk of which is being funded through a loan guarantee that the United Kingdom government has offered.
The loan guarantee amounts to the US equivalent of £300,000,000.
“The question I ask, is how are the people of the Virgin Islands going to benefit directly from this money? The question you must ask yourself, is who has to pay back these loans, and when will they be paid back?” I think you know the answers,” said Fraser who further noted that the European Union is after the BVI’s financial services industry.
“I sincerely ask God’s richest blessings upon you during your time of sadness,” Fraser said.
Notwithstanding his statements, Fraser bid residents a merry Christmas.
Below is Fraser’s full address
A Merry Christmas to all: both residents and visitor’s of these peace-loving Virgin Islands, particularly my constituents of the Third Electoral District.
I am Julian Fraser, Representative for the Third District. Each year I like to start my address with a recap of the economic state of the territory. And unlike last year which due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Irma I was moved to deviate, this year I shall continue.
We have approved the Recovery and Development Plan with a total expected expenditure of $580 million over the next several years. Of this money, the UK Government has promised to guarantee loans of up to $426,000,000.
The question I ask, is how are the people of the Virgin Islands going to benefit directly from this money? The question you must ask yourself, is who has to pay back these loans, and when will they be paid back?
I think you know the answers.
Just this year we had to borrow money to balance our budget. That was a historical first. It meant that we are making less money than we need to support ourselves. The definition for any country that has to borrow money to pay for its operations, is broke.
The EU is after our Financial Services, and there is a good possibility we can end up being blacklisted if we fail to meet their demands.
Let us all pray that this is not the case.
While clearly this is a day of joy and celebrations, it is my duty to reflect on the past year and give God thanks for his goodness to us for our spared lives. Am also obligated to be a source of comfort to those in our hospitals or at home afflicted with ailment.
I also mourn with those who have lost loved ones in the territory, and in particular my District, which in my view seemed to have had a disproportionate number of deaths when compared with the rest of the territory.
I sincerely ask God’s richest blessings upon you during your time of sadness.
The tough times experienced this time of year couldn’t seem to come at a worse time, but because we have Christ our loving Savior to look to for strength and comfort, we overcome.
On this Christmas day I know many of you are experiencing tough economic times, especially on the heels of Hurricane Irma. And that we are not equally equipped to meet the challenges, but rest assured that I am with you.
In these Virgin Islands it is seldom ever possible to measure hardship through failure, because we Virgin Islanders have been conditioned to always put our best foot forward.
Mindful of that fact I continue to remain grounded, and always remember that though you may not express your difficulties or sorrows, Christmas is not about me, but about you.
It was on this day some 2020 years ago Jesus Christ was born, and ever since that day, during this season the true churches celebrates the birth of this virgin-born child who is born to us, the son, who is given to us, the Mighty God, the Son of David, the everlasting King.
My People of The 3rd District, and the entire territory, I extend my heart to you in whatever sadness you are confronted with this Christmas Day. Be it due to a personal ailment, or that of a family member or friend. Be it due to a loved one being incarcerated, or hospitalized, I pledge my continued support to you.
I am quite aware, that by the time this message reaches you, the caroling from the night before would have stopped, and the serenading may be at full blast.
But as you sit down with friends and loved ones to enjoy the day’s meal, and salivate over your delicious pastries, particularly Tart and sweetbread, I want you to enjoy yourselves in the true spirit of Christmas.
For if ever there is a time to celebrate it is now. After all, “Hark! The Herald Angels singing”, was a call to listen intensely, to hear the angels give glory to the New-Born King. Just as they celebrated then, on that day to be known as Christmas Day, you are expected to celebrate now.
In closing, let me say on behalf of my wife Kharid and myself how thankful I am to the people of The 3rd District for their expressions of love and confidence in me, for having me as their Representative for this my 20th Christmas.
I thank you.
And may I extend greetings to all the people of the territory, particularly my constituents, both those at home in the B V I; and in St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, United States Virgin Islands.
May each of you and your loved ones both near and far, have a Merry, Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
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