Governor told: Prove UK not after control of BVI purse, put their conditions, flexibility in writing
Governor Augustus Jaspert has been challenged to give more than a ‘verbal assurance’ that the UK is willing to give the territory time return to compliance if it breaches the BVI-UK Protocols for Effective Financial Management agreement and borrows more than 80 percent of its recurring revenue.
Premier Andrew Fahie issued that challenge on Tuesday while noting that the BVI is likely to breach that 80 percent ratio if the UK fulfils its promise to give the BVI a £300 million (roughly $426 million) loan guarantee to facilitate hurricane recovery.
Fahie said: “The Governor acknowledges that it is a likelihood that the VI government can become out of compliance with the ratios if we accessed new loans … I want to thank His Excellency for giving that verbal commitment on behalf of the government of the UK, but we need to have that in writing.”
“We need to have it in writing before we sign any documents … So unless these ratios are adjusted, or suspended, the Virgin Islands runs the risk of exceeding the levels set and being accused of defaulting on the terms of the guarantee. In addition, the Virgin Islands could be accused of defaulting on the conditions that were set out in the Protocols for Effective Financial Management and those have not been given to us in writing to this date that they would be relaxed,” he added.
Is UK truly after control of public purse? Not a question of ‘who is right’
And while responding to the governor, who refuted government’s claim that the UK wants the Recovery & Development Agency (RDA) take control of the territory’s finances, Fahie said now is not the time for “bickering and confusion”.
“This is not a matter of who is right. This is a matter of what is right for the people of the Virgin Islands,” the Premier said.
Put your views on funding in writing too
The Premier also wants Governor Jaspert — as the representative of Her Majesty the Queen — to clearly state, in writing, his views on which funds should be channelled through the RDA.
“The Government of the Virgin Islands have been saying that certain funds such as proceeds from insurance claims and budget surpluses ought not to go in the RDA Trust Fund. I am relieved he agrees because officials of the RDA have been claiming otherwise and this should be put in black and white in the law governing the RDA,” Premier Fahie said.
Premier Fahie was at the time speaking at a community meeting to discuss the UK’s conditions to offering its loan guarantee.
The discussion continues on Wednesday on Virgin Gorda.
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