Government has issued a petition to the United Kingdom to have five sections of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management either removed or restructured to the BVI’s benefit.
Premier Andrew Fahie made the announcement whiling presenting the petition before the House of Assembly on Thursday.
He said the conditions which are present in the five sections of the current Protocols were constraining government from doing their job and from being able to access the resources needed to attend to the needs of residents.
The petition document, according to the Premier, was sent via letter on May 6 and was addressed to the UK’s Minister responsible for Overseas Territories, Baroness Elizabeth Sugg and Governor Augustus Jaspert.
“Today I am tabling a petition to the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, by the ministers of government that call for the total suspension or restructure of Sections 20, 25, 26, 27 and 28 of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management signed on the 23rd April 2012,” the Premier stated.
Economic and Fiscal Task Force Findings
Premier Fahie said the petition was drafted after the territory’s Coronavirus Economic & Fiscal Task Force examined the BVI’s financial framework and proposed the recommendations to rid of the aforementioned sections from the Protocols.
He said they reported several findings that highlighted the impact that the prescribed borrowing limits within the Protocols had on the territory’s ability to access funds needed to provide relief to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With central government’s limited access to liquid cash, the only unallocated sources of funding are the reserves and contingency funds. Any meaningful attempt to implement even the immediate response measures will cause the BVI to run afoul85` of the liquid assets ratio in the protocols and be held in breach of the said protocols,” the report stated.
It further said: “In the absence of substantial grant support from the UK government, the immediate medium term and long term response and economic stimulus programmes, which become necessary as a result of catastrophic events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the repeal of Section 20 and the review of Sections 25, 27 and 28 of the Protocol for Effective Financial Management, which constrain the BVI government’s ability to access and generate funding, is required.”
Hinders government’s ability to draw from Reserve Fund
The Premier stated that the recommendations from the Task Force also suggested that the conditions in the five sections inhibit the BVI government’s ability to draw monies from the Reserve Fund, which would assist in ensuring public services continue as government revenue is reduced.
He further stated that the sections also obstruct government from raising loan funding and expeditiously implementing projects that are critical to the economic stimulation programme.
The Premier said that these conditions were brought to his attention after the BVI government had visited London in September 2019 to hold discussions with the UK government officials on the UK’s offer of Loan Guarantee for hurricane recovery.
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