BVI News

Opposition calls for gov’t to create Hardship Fund amid COVID-19 pandemic

A section of the main island of Tortola.

Members of the Opposition are calling for government to establish a Hardship Fund to help employees cope with the burden of rent over the next two months as the territory prepares for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Making the call on Monday, Opposition Leader Marlon Penn recommended a number of avenues which can be pursued by the recently created Coronavirus Economic and Fiscal Stability Task Force to help benefit residents.

He said: “The creation of a Hardship Fund, similar to that established by the UK and other countries, need to be established with a framework to support vulnerable businesses and employees during this period to help with liquidity and cashflow.”

“Employees need not to choose between paying their rent and feeding their families for the next 60 days, and going out sick and potentially infecting the rest of the population. The stakes are too high at this time,” he added.

Disaster Fund also an avenue

Penn also said the initiative can be financed through the territory’s Disaster Fund and/or Reserve Fund.

“That is where the Disaster Fund comes in and that is also where the Reserve Fund comes in. I think last time when we had the disaster with hurricanes Irma and Maria, we tapped into the Recovery Fund. We now have according to the last report in the House of Assembly, about $80 million plus currently in the Reserve Fund,” Penn explained.

Reshuffle Budget

He further said that government can also look at the possibility of reshuffling the territory’s budget to accommodate more pressing needs during this crucial time.

“We need to look at ways on reallocating funds through the budgetary process to try to help towards things like this, to help the businesses who might experience some type of hardship during this period and put some of those projects on hold that we might have wanted to do this year,” he said.

Social Security Board can assist

Meanwhile, Opposition legislator Mark Vanterpool suggested that the Social Security Board (SSB) examine how they can assist residents who make their respective contributions to the SSB.

“We don’t know how long this thing is going to be affecting us, so it may be time for the Social Security Board itself to start looking at how it can come to aid for some of its contributors, and how they will be able to assist in this specific period of time to try to buttress the wages or whatever maybe needed to help during this difficult time,” Vanterpool stated.

“I know the Premier and others maybe consulting with them, but certainly the Social Security Board and its $600 million fund might be able to somehow for a short period of time help its contributors who are entitled to their contributions at the end of 65,” he added.

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  1. Hopefull says:

    Our Gov needs to change our labour laws to allow for people to self isolate and stay hme and collect SSB.
    If I stay public and get 19 then SSB will pay me. If I stay hme and don’t get ill then SSB wont pay me…. 600million of our money now needs to be paid back to us so we don’t get sick but can afford to stay hme… it is so easy and will not drain the Government which will be needed to support commerce on the other side.
    Do it early… plan for it… don’t wait until it is too late.

    Like 10
    Dislike 1
    • LOL says:

      You really think SS has $600 mil in a bank account somewhere just waiting to pay out? The value of the holdings/investments etc. is $600 Mil, that’s not liquid cash sitting to be paid. Further, I am sure once Government mandates a lock-down, contributing persons would be eligible to be paid from SS.

    • True says:

      Read sec mission statement

    • Now Is The Time! This is the Place says:

      Of the $80-Million plus in the Reserve, a considerable Sum is from Tax Payers…for Services they will likely not Receive during the next several months. Please give back the Tax Payers their moneys so they can make it through this Difficult time…

  2. social distancing says:

    not being practiced in BVI. When is this going to happen? When all the elderly citizens have died? Italy already has thousands of dead people every day..what are we waiting for?!

  3. No nonsense says:

    He need to organize the return of the squandering money his past government owe us. Then we will have money in the treasury to now do what he want!!

    Like 2
    Dislike 8
    • Accurate Name says:

      Your name suits you perfectly, chatting nonsense. We here going through a crisis, where people will need support and all you people could post is your political nonsense!

      If persons from the past government stole or squandered money the authorities need to deal with that. Hon. Penn is an elected member of the house and has to do the job that he was elected by the people to do. Why don’t you bring solutions to the table?

      I’m not hearing a peep from those in the elected Government. All of a sudden cat have there tongue? You can’t hear from them, no social media post these days I see. The country is in a crisis and all of them gone and hide under a rock.

      We are seeing clearly they’re are not equipped to lead this country. When the country need them they go in hiding. One term all of them, hiding behind Andrew. Especially the ones for education and the one for transportation failures both. All fluff!

      • @Accurate Name says:

        From the moment the election results were made public, a change in demeanor was evident.

        Onwards, all dispositions changed; friendships changed; Most now feel and are treated as insignificant nothings.

        This reality will change again in four years. Then all will become significant again.

      • Reader says:

        @ Accurate Name: Did you listen to the live conference by the Govt. this evening (updating the territory on what’s being done to keep us safe, also taking questions from the press)? Determine not to be a prophet of doom…

        • Where Have All The Leaders Gone? says:

          @t Reader; only one thing missing. Government should have been Financially Capable of Providing Families, or at least those Less Privileged a Stipend of, say $1,000.00, hadn’t the government wasted hundreds of thousands on a senseless Court Case between Speaker and 4th Direct Rep, $12,000 a month for Consultancy that no one is apprised of the Deliverable and hundreds of thousands for First-Ever Premier personal Security and Body Guard Services

          Like 1
          Dislike 1
  4. States says:

    The President is working on giving each household a $1,000 to help in the event of a shut down. You have to be an American citizen or have status in the US. I feel bad for the ones that is in the US illegally because they don’t qualify.

    • Observer says:

      Hopefully our Government is already looking into the possibility of supplementing for a reasonable period,the incomes of the persons directly affected by the needed decision to shut down some ports etc.

  5. Diaspora says:

    Adam Smith in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations list the role and responsibility of government as a)defense, b)administration of justice (law and order) and c)providing other public goods (infrastructure, education). Undoubtedly, the role and responsibility (R&R) of government have increased beyond the suggestions of Adam Smith. R&R now includes unemployment insurance, social services, social security, retirement, health insurance (NHI)…….etc.

    Many of these additional programmes mimic non-revolutionary socialism as practice by Sweden and others, ie, UK, Canada and other Scandinavian countries. The BVI has a hybrid, ie, combined socialism and capitalism. Moreover, this Coronavirus pandemic is adversely impacting tourism, 1/2 of economic twin pillars, impacting the income of many residents engaged in tourism sector, ie, hotel workers, taxi drivers, beach vendors……etc. consequently, government may need to step in to put some money in people pocket to inject and help juice the economy.

  6. Reader says:

    @ Accurate Name: Did you listen to the live conference by the Govt. this evening (updating the territory on what’s being done to keep us safe, also taking questions from the press)? Determine not to be a prophet of doom…

    • @reader says:

      Yes I listened to the press conference and I was truly disappointed. Our Premier is being too reactionary and he is not leading. Too much gimmick, and he still out there trying to bamboosul the people with his double talk. He’s waiting to see what everyone else does to act and he has put our people at risk. That’s not leadership!

      Don’t talk about the Minister of Health he’s an utter failure, can’t answer a single question. Makes you wonder how prepared we really are based on the ministers responses last night. The other ministers are also a joke, schools closing on Thursday and the minister of education is there and couldn’t answer any question to the public or give guidance? The other ministers and members just stood there like officer decoration looking clueless as ever. I think we made a mistake with this bunch.

      Our Premier has yet to outline how individuals and businesses that will be affected by the boarder closures and social distancing will get financial support. These people will need financial support and the Premier need to step up now. You can’t wait until they can’t pay their rent, mortgages or feed there children.

      Hon. Penn and the opposition has shown more leadership than the Premier and his gang. I was more impressed with the oppositions Press conference than the Premier and his people. They gave a sobering presentation and offered practical and pragmatic solutions and suggestions. The Premeirs pride will not allow him to use them because they came from the opposition. I am truly worried about our current Governments ability to lead us through this crisis.

  7. Ausar says:

    We should have had an unemployment agency, in place a long time ago to deal with issues such as this!

    Today it’s Corona; tomorrow it may be something else! Yet no plans in place to ease the financial burdens of the unemployed or displaced worker!

    I am counting on you, Premier Fahie, to institute such a policy for the working people of this country!

    Now is the time!!

  8. Most Significant Opposition Contribution Ever! says:

    Sometimes it takes the worst of situations to bring out the Best of us. This is in my humble Opinion, the most Significant Contribution ever. Well thought out, Explained and implementable.

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