Premier Andrew Fahie believes Tuesday’s ‘tirade of abuse’ delivered outside the House of Assembly by newly sworn-in member Mark Vanterpool undermines the local construction sector, the national economy, and the territory’s image.
Vanterpool had accused the Premier of having been involved in money laundering and, among other this, contractual impropriety since becoming the leader of government business.
In a public response on Thursday, Fahie described Vanterpool’s rant as a reckless smear campaign aimed at assassinating the reputation of himself (the Premier) and several others.
“Mr Vanterpool’s recklessness can and will also adversely affect our ratings on the International Transparency index and deter foreign investors,” Premier Fahie said.
“There was no regard for the truth or facts as outrageous fabrication and malicious falsehoods formed the basis of Mr Vanterpool’s fictional play. This was clearly a pre-planned, stage-managed affair that was designed to seek maximum attention and grab news headlines.”
He continued: “During the course of his slanderous rant, Mr Vanterpool attacked several prominent persons and entities especially in the private sector in what was a clear agenda to de-stabilize and dislocate the government’s efforts at reviving the economy by providing jobs for the people of the territory via work issued legitimately to local contractors.”
During Vanterpool’s statements on Tuesday, he questioned whether certain government contracts including those on the Elmore Stoutt High School were issued to the contractors as compensation for money owed personally by the Premier in his private capacity.
However, Fahie said the allegations were baseless and tasteless.
“It was all part of a plan to hijack the House Assembly and distract from the magnanimity and graciousness of the occasion in light of the government’s decision not to pursue the appeal in Mr Vanterpool’s case in the public’s interest. It is a pity that Mr Vanterpool chose the occasion of his swearing-in to try to score cheap political points. He simply could not rise to the occasion and conduct himself as a statesman,” Fahie said.
I have nothing to hide
As for Vanterpool’s claims that the Premier laundered money into the territory, Fahie maintained that his hands are clean and that he has nothing to hide.
“I wish to make it abundantly clear … my heart is pure, you, the people of the Virgin Islands, affirmed this when you chose to elect me and the members of my government to office on February 25, despite having heard these stale trumped-up accusations before,” he said.
The Premier bemoaned that Vanterpool launched his attack without giving a second thought to the repercussions of his actions to the national economy.
“His preposterous allegations will adversely affect the reputation and integrity of the local construction sector and discourage the use of local contractors with the attendant benefits of job creation and stimulation of the domestic economy. This vicious and damaging attack on our local construction sector could not come at a worse time as the BVI’s services sectors are trying to restore confidence and trust that they can honourably and competently execute projects that would be executed through Recovery and Development Agency and central government,” he continued.
Fahie further said the contractors can freely seek legal redress for defamation. However, he noted that the government will not be bullied, distracted from its mission to restore the BVI, or repositioning the territory in the global competitive markets.