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Premier laments BVI’s needs to UK, tourism listed

FILE PHOTO: Cruise ships dock in the BVI.

Coming out of a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who visited the territory yesterday, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said he called on the UK to back the territory’s two main economic pillars which took a clobbering from Hurricane Irma last week.

“I raised the importance of not only the need to rebuild critical infrastructure, but also the need to support our financial services sector which is responsible for 60 percent of government revenues and our tourism industry which accounts for one in four jobs in the BVI,” Dr Smith said during a public address last evening.

Dr Smith added that he listed the re-establishment of the local criminal justice system, public schooling, and other sections of public service as areas that need immediate attention.

During the hurricane, several public schools including the territory’s largest secondary school, Elmore Stoutt High, was gutted. The territory’s prison in Balsum Ghut also took a hit which resulted in several prisoners escaping the facility. A number of military personnel have since been deployed in the territory to bolster security.

Meanwhile, the premier said he also mentioned other priority areas where the UK can render assistance. “It was important to hear firsthand the UK Government’s commitments – both in terms of financial and technical support – to the rebuilding of the BVI,” Dr Smith said.

“I shared with him (Foreign Secretary Johnson), the immediate needs of the territory: Restoration of power, communications and continued improvement of the security situation…

Financial and technical assistance to build back better homes, capital assets and infrastructure as well as providing support for citizens and businesses to relieve hardship, improve living conditions and support employment,” the premier added.

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