The former board of the BVI Airports Authority Board (BVIAA) has fired back at Premier Andrew Fahie who publicly accused them of ‘deception’, ‘mismanagement’, and paying their salaries and operational costs with the $5 million sum that was intended to develop the runway at the TB Lettsome International Airport.
In an August 14 letter/report addressed to the Premier, former BVIAA board chairman, Glenn Harrigan, said the board thought the monies were a ‘grant’ from government.
“They (the former board) never had any discussion or received any correspondence from government indicating these funds should be treated as a loan. Accordingly, they were recorded and treated as a grant,” Harrigan said in the document to Premier Fahie.
The former board chairman further said the BVIAA was also suffering from a shortage of funding.
He explained that the board did not have sufficient funds to pay operational costs or its staff because their aviation-related revenue suffered a significant decline. Harrigan further argued that the annual subvention the BVIAA receives from government was cut by more than 75 percent.
Harrigan said: “[Our financial difficulties stemmed from] the pullout of American Eagle from the BVI and substantial decline in aviation-related revenues, declining traffic due to high fares to and from Puerto Rico, a decline in the annual budget subvention from $4 million to under $1 million, the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma and the quest to retain all employees despite the above.”
“It is a testament to hard work, innovation, and commitment to the staff, management and board that the BVIAA was able to maintain operations in the face of such extreme challenges. Such diligence and dedication should be applauded instead of denigrated.” he then argued.
Our names did not have to be sullied
While explaining that his letter seeks to “correct some inaccuracies and provide clarity on certain matters raised”, the former BVIAA Chairman said the board members’ reputation never had to be sullied.
He further said the former board appreciates the reason behind the Premier’s statement, which they think is to “set the tone for the request for the $8.3 million in funding for repairs and upgrades” to the territory’s airport facilities.
“Whereas we understand the rationale, we are united in our contention that the same could have been achieved without maligning the names and reputation of the former board by implicating them in a statement where defamatory words such as mismanagement, deception, profligacy and misappropriation are used without merit,” Harrigan said.
He continued: “The former board of the BVIAA comprised several hardworking and enterprising business persons from various walks of life. It is their consensus that the July 16 statement and the ensuing dialogue that now abounds, if not addressed, threatens to defame and smear the good name, reputation and character they have spent their professional lives developing.”
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