BVI News

Don’t buy expensive items with gov’t grants, loans — Skelton


Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton is advising vulnerable residents in need of housing not to purchase pricey building materials and furniture when they receive grants and/or government loans to rebuild their homes.

“You can’t go looking for expensive materials or the top-of-the-line items, because this money must go from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke to help people,” Skeleton said at a community meeting in the Eighth Electoral District last week.

He gave caution while stating that government will need roughly $39 million to assist vulnerable residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the hurricanes.

He said the sum will be shared among five distinct categories of vulnerable residents.

These categories include persons who are under-insured, persons who have no insurance, the poor and needy, retired or elderly persons, and landlords who own occupied apartment buildings with no insurance.

The minister said the $39 million projected for housing assistance is sanctioned by the Ministry of Health but will be distributed through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Government has already approved roughly $15 million to assist residents.

Types of assistance

Skelton said vulnerable persons may qualify for loans, loans and grants, or just grants.

He said residents who qualify for government loans will have between three years and 25 years to repay.

“It all depends on your ability to pay. The loans will range from about $10,000 for small repairs to $100,000 [for major ones],” Skelton explained.

He continued: “For those people whose homes were totally blown off the foundation and they don’t have any ability to pay, there will be what we refer to as social housing to rebuild that home for that person or for that family so that they can live in it – up to $150,000 [may be allocated in those cases].”

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  1. .... says:

    Buy cheap stuff from China like me……LOL

    • Jandy says:

      You may have noticed that the China “cheap stuff” withstood the Cat 5 hurricane.

    • HUM says:

      Take warning because if you buy “cheap stuff from China” you may be better off than if you buy cheap stuff for lots of money elsewhere. If you purchase from China you are paying reasonable prices, but if you buy the same cheap stuff for expensive (from someone who bought it from China) then you are much worse off. Think before critising logic. Practically every dame thing we buy in the BVI for lots of money was made in China.

    • Lilly says:

      If you want to be successful, this is one of the men you should take advice from gringo (:-).

      • Aswad says:

        Chinese building products are not required to pass as stringent industry standards (ANSI or BSEN) and their QA (quality assurance) has a lot left to be desired. That does not mean there are no suppliers/manufacturers that adhere to internationally accepted standards. Best to purchase from US/UK/EU suppliers whom have agreements with their Chinese manufacturers as it relates to minimum standards. Chinese steel is inferior and so to are much of their building products – fact not fiction! What I get from the article is that some may want WOLF/Sub-zero appliances, Natuzzi leather recliners, OLED tv’s and all the fancy gadgets; yet their dwellings are strangely susceptible to extreme weather phenomenons. Spend the funds on making sure your homes/businesses are protected first instead of splurging on Iphone X’s and the like.

  2. WTF says:

    Sir…you have no say in how any grant given is spent! Its either you give with conditions attached or not. I ambsure you will be able to apply multiple times based on how things are done here.! Lolz

    • Lilly says:

      That is why so many people cannot fix their hurricane battered homes. We need to take advice so that we remain independent when things happen to us.

  3. true says:

    there is no due diligence done in these matters. On Anegada 3 large establishments where only 2 suffered minor damage got a gift of $10k each, these properties make well in excess of $1m a year and were all insured.
    These places didn’t need to rush to get open and took their time and the government’s money as well as all the begging online.

    Another property got nothing even though they still major damage and far more than the other places that got the $10,000

    The little guy who’s property took the most damage and just got opened a couple of weeks ago got a paltry $1000, he is struggling while the big 3 roll on and pocket the money that should of went elsewhere, but again in the BVI it’s who you know!

  4. Translation says:

    When you translate this it means buy from the Chinese Minister the cheap they are selling.

  5. Longshanks says:

    It is inevitable that proper processes and equitable distribution will not be followed here. Simply put, the population is too small and patronage and petty corruption too ingrained. That’s why so many wanted to donate relief funds to someone other than the government.

  6. Ken says:

    Why on Earth would you even think of giving a grant or loan to a person who is a landlord who own occupied apartment buildings with no insurance? If they didn’t have insurance prior to the event what makes you sure that they will purchase it and protect the $$$$$ investment of the grant/loans? NEVER loan mony to IDIOTS who won’t buy insurance, NEVER!

    • Lilly says:

      It goes to show that they want to live off every dime they make in rent and fail to plan for mishaps. If you are renting, why on earth you do not have insurance? Want to live fat with no contingency plan.

  7. Keeping it real says:

    @Ken, 100% correct.

  8. Sam the man says:

    This isn’t sensible at all, people that haven’t been responsible in having insurance to cover damage to their property should not be getting grants or cheap loans – this will set a dangerous precedent and encourage others to not pay for insurance in my opinion….not well thought through…

    • Lilly says:

      That may be so, but then there needs to be some strict policies put in place to exclude such people, but businesses are receiving grant and rental property is a business. However, Government need to see who are in good standing etc. If a person has several rentals, then he is in the real estate business and is he/she paying taxes accordingly. A lot should be looked at in these circumstances as opposed to giving hand outs to such individuals.

  9. All fool day says:

    Where is this 39 million dollar on the recover & develop plan? Ronnie just pure talk.

  10. Diplomat says:

    Clearly national and personal disaster planning and preparation, response, recovery and mitigation and planning were severely lacking in the VI. The VI is located in hurricane alley and highly vulnerable to hurricane and other national disasters, ie hurricanes, earth quakes, tsunamis……..etc yet it was ill-prepared. This lack of preparedness may be rooted in complacency, for the VI has not experienced a direct hit from a major hurricane in decades. Most residents have not experienced a major hurricane hit.

    Consequently, many properties were not protected (windows and doors were not properly shuttered to keep wind out and protected from flying debris), not insured, under insured, property poor designed and constructed……..etc. Nonetheless, in spite of the lack of preparation, property owners need government asssitance to repair or rebuild their properties.

    However, public assistance should be prioritized and means -tested. A strict and comprehensive screening process should be developed and employed. The poor, elderly, disabled …..etc property owners should be given top priority for grants and loans. Loans should be given at low/no interest rates to others (businesses, middle to high end earners……etc) to help those with no insurance or were under insured.

    Moreover, property owners that could afford insurance but gambled and didn’t should be helped with loans. It is difficult to fathom how apartment owners didn’t have insurance. This was a poor business practice, failing miserably to protect their investment. Is not the cost for insurance included in the tenants rent? This is harsh but we must call a spade a spade.

    Further, although the territory is in a crisis, we cannot pretend that the elephant in the room does not exist. Tribal tribal politics, political cannabilism, political patronage……..etc. Political patronage is rampant in the VI; people depend on government for every damn thing. Government has enough challenges trying to deliver basic services to meet the public good………etc. There are no Pilates; both politicians and electorate must shoulder the blame for political patronage. Is political patronage now in Virgin Islanders DNA? Residents need to embrace personal responsibility and protect their properties.

  11. ?? says:

    When can we apply for these grants?

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