Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie said there are reports that BVI Airways will need significantly more money from Government to fulfill its promise of direct flights between the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Miami in the United States.
As such, Fahie, in a statement this morning, said it appears a cow will fly quicker over the moon than the plane will fly on its new route, which already has been approved by the United States authorities.
In February, the US Department of Transportation actually ruled that, based on the records it received, “BVI Airways is operationally and financially qualified to perform its proposed services”.
There was no subsequent concern about funding until BVI Airways yesterday blamed Government for the delay it has faced in starting the flights, adding that there are “outstanding obligations” that have to be settled before the planes fly. Those obligations, BVI Airways noted, are not linked to regulatory approvals.
The BVI government, which is headed by Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, later declared that it already met its obligations to the privately owned BVI Airways by providing it with subsidy amounting to $7 million.
The initial agreement was for Government to pay the full subsidy conditionally over a three-year period. But the total amount was paid within months – from January 22 to August 26, 2016.
Fahie is now claiming that the government’s financial conduct is irresponsible.
“Thus far, $7.2 million have being paid outside the scheduled of payments in the contract for a plane to fly. But it seems as if a cow may quicker fly over the moon before this service starts. But the $7.2 million has already been paid, with reports that alleged that significantly more monies from Government will be needed. These are irresponsible financial conduct,” Fahie reasoned. “I clearly stated on numerous occasions, the need to address in a credible way, the airlift problems being faced in our Virgin Islands.”
Fahie, in the meantime, raised concern about the level of local involvement in relation to the airlift deal between the BVI government and BVI Airways.
“Again, [the agreement was signed] without any meaningful involvement of our people directly or indirectly although, prior to the Government’s proposal, one of our local aviation company attempted to get the NDP government’s support for the same service, but with no success,” Fahie continued.
“My position, to date, remains the same solely because the government’s approach in addressing the aforementioned issues remains the same. Am I for a credible solution to our airlift problems? The answer is yes…” Fahie said.
He noted that the government has declined to answer a number of questions the Opposition posed in the House of Assembly in relation to BVI Airways. But Fahie made it clear that he will not shirk his responsibility to hold the government accountable.
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