BVI News

UK expected to help BVI lobby for policy shift

Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier Brodrick Penn

While Premier Dr D Orlando Smith is yet to report on the high-level meeting he attended with the World Bank over the weekend, Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Broderick Penn said he suspects the United Kingdom joined Dr Smith in lobbying for financial aid for the territory.

Since being battered by hurricanes last month, the British Virgin Islands has been receiving resistance in getting a share of the £13 billion from the United Kingdom’s aid budget.

That is because the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, of which Britain is member, said the BVI is to rich to get help.

Ahead of the meeting with the World Bank, Penn said: “What I suspect is going to be happening is there are going to be discussions that are going to be led by the United Kingdom where there is effectively going to be an advocacy for a changing of the rules for countries that are in vulnerable positions.”

He added that the issue of the BVI’s eligibility for aid has been a problem even before Hurricane Irma.

“This is an issue that we’ve encountered before. For example…the greater development aid that comes from the EU (European Union) — the territorial funding — we are not eligible for it for the same reason. It is one that has always been an issue for us.”

“There is a threshold where, if you are considered a middle-income or higher country, you don’t actually qualify for development aid and BVI is a middle-income country. But it’s not just the BVI; it’s actually a number of other Caribbean countries that wouldn’t qualify,” Penn further explained.

“The reality is [that] we just don’t qualify for development aid.”

The United Kingdom, nevertheless, has pledged to assist the BVI and its other overseas countries that have been affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

According to the BBC, the United Kingdom will assist the BVI with relief by taking funds from other budgets until the aforementioned issue of wealth is rectified.

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