Communications and Works Minister Mark Vanterpool has impliedly demanded respect for Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, who he said endured ‘hostility’ from UK parliamentarians to get assistance for the BVI.
Vanterpool said parliamentarians in the UK were hostile towards Premier Smith when he went begging for assistance weeks after Hurricane Irma ravaged the British Virgin Islands.
According to Vanterpool, one UK Opposition member appeared to be harbouring ill-feelings because the BVI did not agree to implement a public register that would effectively reveal the names offshore company owners registered in the territory.
“One member got up and asked him … ‘Why should we give you help and you don’t want to allow the registry?’ Imagine, in the middle of all our knocked-down state, the gentleman going to ask the Premier that in a public committee,” Vanterpool lamented.
Vanterpool said other UK legislators wanted to know why the BVI deserves help when it has a ‘per capita income that is probably higher than the UK’s’.
However, Vanterpool said Dr Smith handled the hostility and questions remarkably well.
“You know what the Premier said: Sir, that was then. That was pre-Irma. I am here to talk to you today about looking help for what is now,” Vanterpool recalled.
We have Premier like a toy
He said Dr Smith, therefore, deserves respect; at least from members of his own administration who are refusing to support his £300 million loan guarantee agreement with the UK.
Under the agreement, the BVI must implement a Recovery and Development Agency to receive the aforementioned loan guarantee from the UK. The Agency will have full control over recovery funds.
“I see the Premier went before them (UK ministers in London). He come back here and we got him like a little toy up and down the place … We got the leader of this country like a toy. He ain’t the type of person who will make noise like me and fuss and tell you a thing or two … This man is trying to help this country genuinely,” Vanterpool said.
The minister was speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday to debate the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act, 2018.
The debate continues.
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