Political leader of the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) and former Finance Minister Ronnie Skelton is calling for the 2019 General Election to happen at least two months before the end of April so that the territory’s economy does not collapse.
Skelton made the call while contributing to Tuesday’s debate on 2019 amendment to the Elections Act that is being introduced in preparation for the upcoming elections.
“The Governor, [Augustus Jaspert], has already set a date — it must happen before the 16th of April. But, any date for election must give any government that is coming into office at least eight weeks to put a budget in place for this country,” Skelton said.
The former Finance Minister added: “We cannot, as elected people in this country, allow the country to go into a constitutional crisis. So polling day needs to be at least eight weeks before the 30th of April. If we don’t get a budget in place by the 30th of April, we are heading for a constitutional crisis.”
While further arguing his point, the PVIM leader said every sitting legislator is ‘well aware’ of the efforts required to produce and approve a yearly budget.
“The Ministry of Finance needs time, [and] the House of Assembly needs time to do what needs to be done,” he insisted.
Back in December, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith sought permission from members of the House to withdraw some $138.9 million from the Consolidated Fund to facilitate government operations until the start of the new fiscal year.
The funds were for a period of four months – January to April 2019 or until the 2019 budget is passed.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, the man who will decide the date of the elections, told BVI News during an NDP rally last Saturday that he ‘does not know’ when elections will be yet.