It has been about a year since the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) gave the BVI government access to 15 million of the $65 million loan for territorial rehabilitation and reconstruction. But, while public infrastructures remain in ruins, only about $5 million of that amount has been spent towards the rehabilitation effort, so far.
The concern now is that the CDB — based on policy — has said it will not release any more money from that $65 million loan until government spends at least 80 percent of that first $15 million portion.
The CDB, in the meantime, has collected nearly half-million in loan interest payments from the BVI, even though they are the main cause of the delay in the territory’s recovery, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith told the House of Assembly on Thursday.
“The CDB process is quite involved and quite prolonged and it took many months before the process could be completed to have some of these monies spent. It was not anticipated that the process would take that long … this is the reason why more monies have not been spent,” Premier Smith said.
Gov’t partly to be blamed
But, based on the Premier’s explanation, government is also to be blamed for some of the delays.
According to Dr Smith, a number of rehabilitation projects are still being planned.
“We are at a point now where, I think, all the projects have been prioritised and are in the advanced stage of planning, so I expect the monies will be spent very quickly on the projects that have been identified,” the Premier said.
The remaining two-thirds of the available $15 million will be used for works toward the territory’s water distribution network, repairing government buildings, purchasing equipment for the Department of Disaster Management, reconstruction of road slopes and coastal defence, and restoration of the West End Ferry Terminal.
“Many of those things have already been planned. Some already have contracts that are almost ready to go,” Dr Smith told the House of Assembly while answering questions from Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie.
Monies spent so far used to pay consultants
Of the $5 million spent so far, Premier Smith said most of that amount was spent on procuring consultancy services.
Fahie has expressed general disappointment in the Premier’s report to the House.
“[For] the $464,116.99 that the taxpayers have had to pay back in [loan] interest [so far], they have received absolutely no tangible benefits other than the consultancies,” he said.
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