By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has said the Recovery and Development Agency that is being implemented will not stop local government from continuing to manage its own affairs.
The Agency is being set up so the BVI can receive a £300 million loan guarantee from the United Kingdom government.
The Agency will have complete control over all funds directed towards local recovery.
When confronted with questions about whether establishing the Agency is the UK’s way of seizing more control of the BVI, the Premier said: “That’s far from the truth”.
“The British Virgin Islands government is responsible for managing the country under the leadership of the Premier as we have continued to do.”
“We need to have our recovery done as quickly and as accountable as possible and so, therefore, the BVI government is setting up this Agency to assist in getting this work done,” added the Premier whose sentiments received support from Governor Augustus Jaspert.
UK and BVI equally represented on Agency
While speaking at a media conference yesterday, the Premier announced that the Agency will comprise a chairman, a deputy chairman, and up to two representatives each from the BVI and UK governments.
The Agency will also comprise two representatives from major donor agencies such as the Caribbean Development Bank, as well as a representative from the business community and the civil society.
Agency must report to public
The Agency is being set up through legislation and will only be established once it is approved in the House of Assembly.
“The Agency will have the responsibility to use the funds from a trust for the British Virgin Islands Recovery and Development effort only. [It] will, by statute, be required to report to the public in the most transparent and coherent manner the activities associated with the agency’s recovery efforts,” the Premier said yesterday.
He added: “Such reporting will include accounting for the disbursement of those funds under the implementation of priority activities and initiatives, and the operational costs of the Agency itself. The Agency’s sole responsibility is to be accountable to all stakeholders for the implementation of the plan through an effective, efficient, and transparent process.”
Agency monitored by board
The Premier said a board will also be set up to oversee the Agency, which will have a five to seven-year mandate.
In the meantime, Dr Smith said he has authorised a temporary ‘working group’ to run ongoing recovery efforts until the Agency is officially established.
“On my instruction, a working group has been working through the intricacies that will be required for the Agency to be stood up, through informal gatherings for the past month or so,” Dr Smith explained.
CEO the Financial Services Commission Dr Robert Mathavious is chairing the said ‘working group’.
Other persons that have been selected to sit on the ‘working group’ are Brodrick Penn, Sharleen DaBreo, Maria Mays, David Morris, Clarence Faulkner, Clyde Lettsome and at least two other persons including a Virgin Gorda representative.
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