Despite a mandate from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the United Kingdom that the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) should handle and have full control over monies from the CDB’s $65 million loan, local government is currently the body managing those funds.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith admitted this in the House of Assembly last week.
The Premier claims that his government still has control over the money because negotiations with the CDB are still ongoing, even though the bank approved the $65 million rehabilitation and reconstruction loan a year ago.
He then assured that his government will handle the loan monies in accordance with the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act.
Dr Smith said: “In order for the loan to be administered in accordance with the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act, further negotiation and agreement between the various parties involved is required — those parties being central government, the CDB, and the Recovery and Development Agency. Until then, central government will maintain its responsibility of managing the loan [and] ensuring proper execution of the project in accordance with executor loan agreement with the CDB.”
“The loan with the CDB was negotiated before there was a discussion about the RDA coming into play and taking over, etcetera. But there is also a clause in the loan that once the RDA is in place, they will have oversight of the project. So, until that happens, the monies have to be managed and be accounted for by central government,” the Premier said.
The RDA has been in place for months now. It was implemented as a condition of the UK’s post-hurricane offer to be a £300 million loan guarantor for the BVI.
Dr Smith, in the meantime, has said his government has spent about $5 million of the CDB loan, so far. He made the statements while responding to questions from Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie last Thursday.
Upon hearing the responses, Fahie reminded legislators of a High-level Framework document signed between local government and the UK.
“The High-level Framework document that came to this Honourable House stated specifically that all loans received by the government dealing with recovery and development was going to be managed under the RDA and there was no question about it.”
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