The House of Assembly has approved government’s revised version of the previous NDP administration’s Recovery & Development Plan that will see more contracts being available to locals.
Among other things, the revised plan — which the House agreed to take retroactive effect on October 17, 2019 — allows for the BVI to renegotiate the terms and conditions of loans offered by lending institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Those renegotiations have already begun with the CDB as well as the UK government who also had to approve the revised plan since they are the ones offering to become the territory’s loan guarantor.
“When it (the old recovery plan) was approved originally, and even with the CDB loans, there was a certain threshold of what local contractors would be able to do with the CDB loan. With the new RDA plan, we expanded it to make sure that the amount of money was increased for what local contractors can be the only ones to be given the chance to tender because when your take out a $65 million loan from the CDB, you cannot afford as a territory — especially now that COVID-19 is here — to have contractors come from all over the world and get those jobs,” Fahie told the House.
“We are negotiating to make sure that as many local contractors as possible will get those jobs,” he added.
The Premier, in the meantime, said other negotiations are being had with the CDB in relation to COVID-19.
Fahie said previous talks with the CDB did not factor in the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, fresh negotiations are being had to bring even for benefits to local contractors.
He explained: “We want to make sure that even if a company from abroad comes in, they already have partnerships created with the local entities here in the Virgin Islands so all these areas are changes that we have made in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands.”
But besides the renegotiated terms and conditions for loans that will fund the plan, the revised plan was downsized to focus more on hurricane ‘recovery’ projects and less on ‘developments’.
The House, in the meantime, also approved the establishment of a Borrowing Committee and the Recovery Steering Group. An eight-member Borrowing Committee is expected to secure all funding under the UK Loan Guarantee on the behalf of government.
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