BVI News

Premier delivers $62.9M COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Premier Andrew Fahie has delivered a $62.9 million COVID-19 Economic Stimulus-Response Plan which seeks to allocate funds to jobless residents, struggling businesses, hotels, taxi operators, and other areas.

He said the majority of the funds came from the Social Security Board (SSB) and represents Phase Two of the government’s stimulus-response to COVID-19.

Of the total $62.9 million package, $40 million was a grant from the SSB while $17 million was from the SSB’s Affordable Housing Project.

An additional $2 million grant was received from an undisclosed source, and will go towards assisting with infrastructure. The remaining funds amounting to $3.9 million will be from government’s coffers.

Breakdown of $$ from grant

Premier Fahie said $10 million will be channelled towards unemployment relief support for persons who have been either laid off or placed on reduced working hours or days because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Persons who are ‘eligible’ would be able to receive unemployment income support for a period not exceeding three months.

He explained that the compensation would be on a case-by-case basis and persons would be required to furnish the relevant information to the SSB “to show how they were affected by COVID-19 based on the criterion that will be published”.

Application forms will be available at the SSB’s office starting June 2.

Affected businesses 

The Premier said $6.5 million will be made available to local businesses that were affected by the virus. They will be able to access these funds through grants.

“Businesses that qualify for this grant will be expected to put this funding to work and make a genuine effort to keep their staff employed,” Fahie explained.

“These special business grants to help our local businesses will be administered by a team comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Premier’s Office and the Department of Trade, Investment Promotions & Consumer Affairs,” he added.

Application forms will be available at the Department of Trade or on the government’s official website starting June 15. 

Accommodations

Another area to benefit is the accommodation sector. Premier Fahie said a $1 million grant has been allocated for hotels, guest houses, inns and villas who were forced to close to visitors because of COVID-19.

The funds will go towards assisting with cash flow to provide income opportunities for their employees and also to stimulate opportunities for security services, food provisioning, and transport initiatives.

Interested property owners are asked to contact the BVI Tourist Board and the Ministry of Health & Social Development for further details and to register.

Other sectors to benefit

In the meantime, the Premier said daycare centres, private schools, churches and other religious organisations that have been adversely affected by COVID-19 has been allotted a $1 million relief package.

“The details of how and where to apply for this assistance will be published on bvi.gov.vg by June 15 so that qualifying persons and organisations affected by COVID-19 can apply,” he stated.

Taxi operators

Another $1 million will go towards taxi operators who have been affected by the COVID-19, Premier Fahie noted.

He said the monies would be used to “engage local licensed taxi operators to provide the shuttle service, as well as to transport returning nationals and residents to government quarantine facilities, as needed”.

A similar programme will be launched on the sister islands at an undisclosed date in June, he further said.

Meanwhile, the Social Development Department will get $1 million to assist persons with social needs arising from COVID-19.

NHI, Sewerage

The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme will receive $7.5 million, to assist in providing adequate healthcare for residents, “especially during this COVID-19 era,” Premier stated.

He explained that the scheme was never adequately funded, and it is important that all the medical providers, pharmacies and other entities, regardless of the size of their businesses benefit from this fund.

A further $9 million grant will also go towards the Housing Recovery Unit to assist homeowners to repair their properties. The Premier said an additional $2 million has been set aside to commence work on the East End-Long Look Sewerage Project and $3.9 million was allotted for quicker financial help for residents through the nine district representatives or the four at-large representatives.

No other choice

The Premier, who is also the Minister for Finance, explained that the government opted to ‘avoid touching taxpayers’ piggy bank’ because of the hurricane season as well as the continuous seismic activity being experienced at this time.

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20 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    3 months we have waited for this and now this? $1milloon to less than 100 driver on Tola even thouigh they have been earning all be it less than usual.

    Paying the unemployed before giving grants to small business to keep people employed, thats backwards.

    No relaxing of curfew but curfew on the sea is now over everyone can go on the water within the BVI

    Everything requires begging and it depends on the peron wether you get it or not, not 1 guideline, say BVIEC has this affected you, well its affected most, but if you have any savings you must pay, even though they don’t have.a date when they will open the borders again so how much savings are we going to need?

    Like 7
    Dislike 7
    • Not to worry says:

      You will all have this stimulus explained in greater detail. Tomorrow is Saturday and Igwe is presently burning up his computer with the fart gas he will spew tomorrow. Then things will be much clearer.

      Like 3
      Dislike 8
  2. Taxi operators says:

    Perhaps an idea for stimulus for the taxi operators is to make sure that whenever the economy is back they are obligated to still drive for we the people and not only to come out of their beds when a ship is in.

    Oh and have a bit of a smile on your face when welcoming our passengers.

    You do a terrible job for we the people and now you are getting hand outs.

    Like 21
  3. Premier Fahie says:

    For those who still doubted you, you and your adminstration earned it.

    From the bottom of my heart thank you. This will stimulate the economy and I pray that everyone and every business affected will be able to benefit.

    This is surely a government for ALL people (locals and expats).

    Like 8
    Dislike 35
  4. Money to NHI? says:

    Perhaps inform the people on healthy lifestyles.

    Eating rubbish all day every day and then needing money for medication…. now is the time to tell people. Stop eating crap. Take care of your health and immune system. And no, you are not big boned. No it doesn’t run in your family. You are unhealthy and that’s because of what you put in your mouth.

    Like 18
    Dislike 1
    • Lmao says:

      Uuuum, coming our Premier who is overweight is not going to convince people to lead a healthy lifestyle. He was doing well for awhile but he backslide!

      Like 10
      • Not really says:

        Sometimes persons have other health factors which contribute to gain weight such as hypothyroid condition. Its not necessarily due to bad eating habits.

        Like 5
        Dislike 10
  5. Questions says:

    I have so many questions about the stimulus packages.

    The burning one is, if so many agencies will be processing the requests of persons who have been displaced or inconvenienced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I cannot for the life of me fathom the need for each elected representative to receive $300,000.00 to dole out as they see fit. Looks like a free-for-all to me, as I can foresee the usual double dipping by the greedy while the needy will still be bawling for help.

    I must also comment about that land/property transfer fees being waived as a weird one, too. So many persons in need – and we will have money to spend freely by buying up available property and land at a time like this? Seems as if only the chosen, handpicked few are to benefit from this one.

    I hope that the free monies being given with no strings attached will be properly managed from all angles. Many more questions than answers overall.

    Like 21
    • One says:

      representative said, “they others before me did it so i going in for the same reason.” Well, god bless him and them, they in the money now. And it is clear there is minimal to no accountability for none of that money. What a lucky bunch.

      Just wish they would do right by those who need their increments and a salary increase.

      Like 15
      Dislike 1
  6. Sorry says:

    This is not a stimulus but an insult to the people of the BVI. Some will say we should be grateful because it’s ‘something’ but I say nonsense. If this was done in the beginning of April maybe, but at this stage coming with this half-baked stimulus fooling people? $17 million of the so-called 62 mil is from a project that was planned over 3 years ago by the former government and was stalled due to Irma etc. How can that be included as stimulus? Yes, it’s about to start and will stimulate the economy but a real stimulus are things that are designed specifically to assist businesses and persons as a result of COVID disruptions. Why is the 2 mil for farmers and fishermen still included and it was part of the pretend phase 1? Now small businesses who have been closed for 3 months have to wait almost 3 weeks for a for to fill out and wait another few months to see if they’re approved? Well done!

    Like 28
    Dislike 1
  7. Tongue Fu says:

    Finally some semblance of a real stimulus so I applaud the Premier for getting this together but there are more questions than answers:

    1
    10 million dollars say if you had 5000 unemployed or laid off that is $2,000 per person or $667 per month. 3000 unemployed brings it to $3,300 per person or $ 1111.00 monthly. With persons being unemployed or possibly laid off for 6-9 months will this be sufficient? Very unlikely.

    2
    6.5 million to small businesses would mean if you have 1000 businesses apply $6,500 per business or 2000 apply $ 3250.00. I have employed all my staff full time despite next to non-existent revenues and my fortnight salaries is around $9,000 and does not include rent and other costs. Really can do little for me. To be effective this must also benefit only businesses that have kept their employees employed.

    3
    According to a report last year Roy Barry said NHI was 6.4million in the red now we pumping 7.5 million for COVID? That sounds like a bail out for past bills and another instance of Government pumping money into a situation without solving the situation. Roy’s suggestion to only allow the NHI to be used at public institutions was shot down. Personally I don’t think that is a good solution but at least it was an idea to cut costs. I really think that we need to come up with a whole new alternative to the NHI.

    4

    2 million for Farmers was announced already so I assume that this is the funding.

    5
    1 million for day care, private schools and Churches. Hardly adequate private schools and day cares should have been ahead of the line. Churches already get tax free concessions.

    6 300 k for district reps will politicize the stimulus and persons who really need it may not get it because of their political affiliations.

    7 17 million for James Todman alone could have been spread out among two or three contractors to be more effective. 43 houses at $ 395k is pretty reasonable would like to see the design.

    Anticlimactic this but a plan nevertheless. Would really like to know the financial status of the SSB and it would have been great to have a true picture of the number of small businesses and the number of unemployed persons. This is a little help but the hole we in is so deep I don’t think we quite understand how deep we in. We need to have a financial assessment done of our position on what we have expended and what revenues we have received these 5 months. Cayman Islands is asking for a 500 million dollar credit line as they registered a 45 million dollar record monthly deficit in April alone. This is serious.

    Like 18
    Dislike 1
  8. Needy Civil Servant says:

    Why was not one penny designated for back pay increments and, why do churches need a stimulus injection and not civil servants, teachers, nurses, doctors and others?

    Appears some segments, interest and others have been well fed, while others are left to suck salt.

    Why is it that civil servants are always neglected, no matter which administration is put in?

    There should have been an equitable sharing of the pie, after all, some services, skills and professions are not worthy of any assistance, but a church doe? SMDH.

    Like 15
    Dislike 1
  9. Churches says:

    Can some one tell me how were the churches income adversely affected. Churches are suppose to be assisting the poor and needy not accumulating wealth for the chosen few at the top.

    Like 20
    Dislike 1
  10. NIH says:

    Just allow NHI to pay up the providers for the six months of outstanding bills and they will be very happy. Two months in arrears is understandable operational necessity but six months in arrears is killing the small healthcare providers.

  11. Yes says:

    It’s about time Social Security help the people. That’s what they should do. With no tax return this good they can. Government leave the reserve for the hurricane. Good good stuff.

    Like 1
    Dislike 2
  12. It’s your money... was says:

    Goodbye your social security. Social Security fund will now be the politicians piggy bank to piss away any way they like. Does your back side hurt ? It should.

    How much interest is the government paying the SSB to “loan” them the money ?

    • Concerned says:

      it isn’t even a loan, it is a grant, so does not have to be paid back. So just hope when you retire there is money in the Social Security Fund left.

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