The British Virgin Islands has lost more than $16 million in revenues since Hurricane Irma smashed into the territory on September 6.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith made the disclosure during a sitting of the House of Assembly this week.
He said government collected close to $20 million in September last year but only earned roughly a quarter of that sum this year.
“Total revenue received in September 2017 was $5.14 million, compared to $18.22 million in September 2016. In October 2017 revenue was $16.88 million, in comparison to $19.95 million in October 2016,” the finance minister explained.
Opposition member Julian Fraser expressed concern when Dr Smith disclosed the figures, and questioned whether the territory’s revenue stream was still spiraling downwards.
“This is not a joke. Premier, it’s 65 days and your down $16 million… In the next 65 days are we going to lose another $16 million which is going to be $32 million at the end of the year; or have we reached a comfort zone now where we’re going to start building back revenue?” Fraser asked.
The Premier said one of the territory’s two main revenue-earners is doing well post-hurricane while the other, generally, is not.
These are the financial service sector which accounts for roughly 60 percent of annual revenue and the tourism sector.
“I must say that when we look at the main factors of the economy the financial services sector has been doing quite well. But the other aspect, that is our tourism, has been hard-hit and it’s going to take a little longer to recover. So, we don’t expect at this moment to be receiving that much money generally,” Premier Smith said.
Several local financial services providers have relocated and have been operating from other jurisdictions since Hurricane Irma.
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