Opposition Leader and National Democratic Party (NDP) member Marlon Penn has sought to defend his party’s last two years in office.
Penn said the NDP did well to rebuild the territory’s economy following the devastating disasters of 2017.
“We the leadership of the day found a way to buttress that level of uncertainty. You have a situation where you have to rebuild an economy, a territory virtually from scratch. It is virtually impossible to rebuild the BVI in two years even though we had all the manpower in the world,” Penn said during the recently-concluded budget debate in the House of Assembly.
“So, the focus was on and had to have been to rebuild your economy. If you have a strong economy, your economy will rebuild your infrastructure, and that is what successive governments have done over the years,” he added.
VIP got a lot of financial cushion
Penn said the new Virgin Islands Party government received a lot of money to transition into the current budget cycle.
He explained: “As of March 1, 2019, we have over $126,872,688 in the government’s accounts. [This is] after going through two of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the Caribbean. So, that’s a good transition for any government to have that level of cushion to move this country forward.”
In a breakdown of the aforementioned funds, Penn said some $35 million was left in the development account, $3 million in the contingency account, $850 million in the emergency fund, $1.1 million in the pension fund, $68.9 million in the reserves, $1,788,753 in the environmental levy fund, $1,870,546 in the seized assets, and $13,738,100 in an account at the National Bank of the Virgin Islands.
He said the NDP government must be commended for their stewardship of the financial services and in tourism. As of last year, the territory’s economy showed its resilience and the NDP should be credited for bringing the territory to a point where it saw a notable economic boom, the Opposition Leader argued.
“If the government does bad, you blame them but when they do good you have to give them credit too,” Penn reasoned.
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