Several residents are calling for the UK-mandated Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) to be disbanded.
These calls were made during the two-day public discussion on the United Kingdom’s £300 million loan-guarantee offer to the BVI.
“We had the ability to properly manage ourselves. We can execute projects. We can build. We don’t have to pay a second government when we have the capability,” businessman and former Virgin Islands Party candidate John Samuel said, referring to the RDA.
“I believe it (the RDA) was a calculated mistake by people who didn’t have no vision and by people who weren’t even listening to themselves … You don’t need no RDA,” said outspoken resident, Julio ‘Sam’ Henry during the government’s Tortola leg of the meetings.
“This government was elected for a purpose which is to get the BVI back in order so this government need to look at things and do things a bit differently. Get smaller [loan] amounts and also reprioritize the developments that need to be done with this money. I’m thinking you probably have to find a way to phase out the RDA because they should not be having more power than the elected government,” one female resident said during the day-two of the meetings; this time on Virgin Gorda.
We are not bashing RDA
Recognising the overwhelming anti-RDA sentiments from members of the public, government minister and Ninth District Representative Vincent Wheatley sought to clarify the government’s position towards the end of the discussion.
“It may seem like we are bashing the RDA, but we are not,” Wheatley said. “They (RDA) are an important and integral part of our recovery, but we are trying to make things better for you … We have to make sure that we have brought you all the information that we have to make the best decision for this country. The BVI came out of nothing, so we know what it is to have nothing. But it is a very different era now — one of competition.”
He reminded residents that any decision would have both good and bad impacts on the territory.
RDA has its place
Premier Fahie, in the meantime, reminded residents that the RDA has a purpose and perhaps, more importantly, has a limited five-year mandate before is phased out.
As it relates to the primary reason for the two day-public meeting, residents have been told they can send in their opinions to the government on whether the territory should accept the United Kingdom’s loan guarantee and accompanying conditions for hurricane recovery.
A delegation of local officials is expected to have talks with the UK on the matter sometime in September.
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