Premier Andrew Fahie has again sought to extricate his government from the appearance of any wrongdoing in the disbursement of taxpayer funds for the farming and fisherfolk grants first issued last year.
The government paid out $6.1 million worth of economic stimulus to the fishers and farmers since the advent of COVID-19.
“My government can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that we have acted with integrity to help the people with all the grants and none of the money has hit anywhere around us. It has hit its target and it is up to whoever has received it to account for it,” Premier Fahie stated.
According to the Premier, the grants were issued to help with the territory’s needs in the areas of food security and food production after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov’t not responsible for circulating list
The Premier, who is also Finance Minister, said while an investigation is currently underway as to how the list of recipients who received grants came to be in the public domain, he had nothing to hide.
“We cannot be held responsible for that list that is being circulated because it is not our official list. But parts of it are questionable with the information that is on it,” the Premier stated.
He further said several persons on the list were “in question”; making the list clearly inaccurate.
According to the Premier, all persons who received the grant also received a letter stating very clearly that “you must be able to account for every dime that you received”.
Engine for fisherman a whole business
Turning his attention to the large disparity in the amounts disbursed between the fisherfolk/farmers and the grants made to other businesses around the territory, Premier Fahie said the requests made were different in those cases.
“If [fisherfolk] needed an engine, they would say that they needed an engine – an engine for them is the whole business. If they needed fencing, fencing would be different.”
He added that grants were not based only on giving them money but applicants were instead required to outline their needs in the fishing and farming sectors.
He further said the formula for issuing grants to businesses was different to that of fishing and farming grants.
“If you look at it and compare in raw form across the board, it would never seem fair,” the Premier said.
Meanwhile, the Premier said that there was a majority of farmers who have since been showing how they have been able to develop their business with grants.
“There are a lot of success stories out there, and we will be bringing them to light,” he stated.
Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.