BVI News

Wheatley slams Opposition for criticising SSB’s $40M grant for economic stimulus

Minister with responsibility for Social Security, Vincent Wheatley has slammed Opposition Leader Marlon Penn for what he described as Penn’s ‘misleading’ and ‘sensational’ statements about the $40 million grant that governement received from the Social Security Board (SSB) for its economic stimulus package.

In a May 30 statement, Penn had said he was concerned that the funds were in the form of a grant and not a loan with favourable terms to be repaid by the government.

Penn’s full statement on Phase II of government’s Economic Stimulus-Response Plan

Responding to Penn’s statement on Tuesday, Wheatley said: “It is clear, firstly, that the plan presented by your government is indeed a solid plan, and that the Honourable Leader of the Opposition knows this. That is why he tried to claim credit for elements of your government’s plan. But, unable to find any substantial grounds for criticism of your government’s solid plan, the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, just for the sake of heaping scorn on your government’s good work, has opted to go out on a very long, weak limb to question the legality of the issuing of a grant by the SSB.”

Wheatley said Penn is aware of the processes and procedures and “is very aware of the deliberate nature of his campaign of mischief”.

Not unprecedented

The Social Security Minister then argued that it was not unprecedented for local government to receive ‘donations’ towards ‘public projects.’

He further went on to list a few projects funded by private sector organisations and the SSB, such as school repairs and equipment purchase.

“Is the Honourable Leader of the Opposition saying that the SSB was wrong to make this donation to the needy? But, not only that, has the leader of the four-member tri-party Opposition forgotten that on December 19, 2017, the SSB used its funds to purchase shares in the National Bank of the Virgin Islands, while he was a member of the then government? Until that day, the government of the Virgin Islands was the sole shareholder of the bank. Does the leader of this four-member tri-party Opposition have a short memory? Or has he conveniently shifted his compass? What agenda is he really trying to achieve?” Wheatley questioned.

“Why is the Honourable Leader of the Opposition trying to taint, and block legitimate assistance from reaching the BVI citizenry in their greatest time of need?” he added.

The minister said in this COVID-19 pandemic era, people are in “urgent need of social support, and the economy is in need of assistance”.

He said Penn’s statement was to create alarm and distrust and to create tension in the territory at a time when persons need the support and reassurance of the leaders of the territory to get through these emotionally and financially difficult times.

Money put into good use

Addressing the issue on the Honestly Speaking Radio Programme last night, June 2, Premier Andrew Fahie said the money belongs to taxpayers and it is going towards a worthy cause.

He said if the business community is not given assistance, they will be forced to close shop, which in turn, would affect the bottom line at the SSB and the National Health Insurance scheme because persons would be unemployed and unable to meet those payments.

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32 Comments

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  1. Thieves says:

    It’s not the government’s money. It’s the workers money. If the fund has an excess increase the monthly payments to the retirees. Don’t turn it over to politicians to p**s away.

    Like 15
    Dislike 1
    • A question says:

      So the expat workers from down island like Jamaica come and work and pay the 8.5% social security tax. When they retire do you pay them retirement? Or…. do you steal their money and since they have no rights can’t do anything about it. You are all such lovely people. It’s amazing how you call yourselves good Christian people.

      Like 6
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  2. Wasambi says:

    The opposition leader has his own evil agenda that will be squashed by the man above. This Marlon Penn remain silent all through NDP reign and never question why Mark Vanterpool had a $40 million overrun on the pier park. He let his own government divert the east end sewerage money. Still the sewerage not fix. Boy worst than a conman out of h**l.

    Like 12
    Dislike 10
  3. vip heckler says:

    This vip government want to use SSB as their personal piggy bank

    Like 15
    Dislike 5
    • ReX FeRaL says:

      @VIP Heckler…Truth be told. The NDP used to do it also.

      Like 4
      Dislike 2
      • Oops says:

        What was the crisis when NDP dipped and digged and plucked ssb? These are critical times and one must act, take some steps to mitigate the situation. What is penns plan? Where was his head, his voice when millions were being tossed up like balloon? Lol

    • Voter says:

      Totally agree with your statement!! On top of it – they have no shame..

  4. Hornet says:

    He did not complain when his ndp government use $15 million dollars of Social Security money to bail out the National Bank of the Virgin Islands out of debt at the people expense????? Now he complain about a grant to feed the people? WTF

    Like 7
    Dislike 11
  5. Inspector says:

    Anybody hardly hear Marlon on the corrupt BVI airway deal. That the $7.2 million giveaway by the National Democratic Party sweet. School children say he wanted Myron gone so he push the wall saga quietly. I wonder why he pushing against the unemployment people now.

    Like 6
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  6. Ok says:

    So the money put into the Social Security system is the people’s money. This money is supposed to be invested just like an annuity so that there will be benefits for all that have paid in. What right does the SSB have or for that matter to take the money of the people and give it away. A grant is a gift. Not to be repaid. All money collected by the SSB should be invested for the future. These grants are just a way for the politicians to get the people’s money and stick it in their pockets. You all sit around and watch. Wave goodbye to your retirement.

    Like 19
    Dislike 3
    • Concerned says:

      The UK-government demands accountability and transparency for any loans that is why they had to rob the Social Security Board. A grant, so they never even have to pay it back.

  7. For the Good of Mankind says:

    This is so unbelievable that Smurf only now get his voice and he want to talk? Where was he when he let MV take our money for the EE / LL sewage project which is still to be completed to this day? When he gave MV our $8 mil or was it $11 mil? Did he know if it was a grant, a loan or a GIFT? Now you want explanation and now you know what is wrong from what is right?

    Hon Premier, I am one of those who is with you ALL THE WAY. You are exercising much wisdom but Mr. Premier, we are hearing nothing about East End / Long Look sewage long overdue completion.

    The Rep for EE/LL did indicate work would continue in June, this June, but please do not forget us. Now money seem to be free flying all over the place. After all is said and done we hope we can dance and have a festival before the end of this year for the completion of the project.

    It is a shame that that Mr. Smurf talking now. He have very short memory but we will remind him that he is the cause that sewage problem still existing after he allow the MV to take our money and do what they think they were big enough to do. SO Mr. Smurf, please go sit down and fold your arms like you did before and let the VIP Govt roll on.

    Like 7
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    • Nonsense! says:

      You people aren’t tired chatting nonsense ! God bless the majority of us in the BVI is not blinded and bought out like the rest of you. We must sit quietly and watch the Premier and his gang fleece social security board and stay silent because NDP this and that one did that? Are you good in your head?

      This is 40 million dollars we are talking about here and it’s being given as a grant. This is our money never to be paid back, Social Security contribution too if you ever pay any at all.

      Smurf you obviously got their attention because I see them jumping from new site to new site on your case. I hear the one from VG on assignment on the radio yesterday sounding like a real mad man. You keep the fire burning. You have a job to do in opposition, keep doing your job. Don’t let these con man Rob is blind.

      Like 19
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      • real talk says:

        Where there is no vision the people perish you are correct this is a grant no a loan. The government has no means of paying back this money.

        come the end of the year social security fee will increase vastly and we the people will have to pay it to make back the 40 million grant over the years.

        pick sense out of nonsense

        Like 9
        Dislike 1
    • truth says:

      the money was not from social security.

    • Lilly says:

      I hope we do not find ourselves in the same position when we need our SS funds. Some of us wear blinders when it suits us

  8. Disinterested says:

    The danger in operating hand in glove with a government that is clearly performing poorly and behaving badly while in power is that in opposition it makes it difficult with any credibility to criticize the sitting government. Though the Hon Marlon Penn(R8) was silent on some issues not favorable to NDP during its 2 consecutive terms, he has the right as an elected member and citizen to question any decision made by government.

    Undoubtedly, these are challenging and difficult times for many VI residents as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and they need help. However, that does not mean that any assistance put forward should not be questioned. As the Hon Wheatley has the right to make the case for the stimulus package put forward so too does Hon Penn also has the right to ask questions. Yes, social security has granted grants to other projects. Nevertheless, this $40M grant is much larger than any that were made in the past. Not averse to social security assisting with the economic stimulus. Nevertheless, the $40M should be a loan, not a grant.

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  9. New Reality says:

    EVERY Social Security contributor should have benefited from that very generous stimulus package. Since there is so much money to go around, shouldn’t the monthly contributions to SSB be reduced? Why was there not a second opinion/study done on the long term (adverse) effect this grant could have on future payments by SSB to retirees? Did the government really need to take out so much money out of the SSB? Why didn’t the contributors have a say in what was being done? After all, it is not the Government’s money. It is the PEOPLES’ money!!

    Interestingly, all the critics who were waiting to hear what they were getting are silent, as no doubt they got a lot more than they anticipated.

    Sadly, there will be lots of double dipping and even triple dipping. Just wait and see. Barry say you will hear.

    What about the retirees who have had to dip into their meager funds to keep afloat as a result of the rising costs, the extra detergent, face masks, hand sanitizers, etc. that they must purchase? Why didn’t every citizen receive a stimulus check?

    ‘Taint every cow that bawling have the most need. Everyone is suffering in some way or the other.

    We just have to look next door to see the challenges the retirees are having with a dying employees’ retirement system. Once the piggy bank has been broken into it will be very hard to close it back.

    Like 12
    Dislike 1
    • Disinterested says:

      Indeed, the USVI retirement system, Government Employment Retirement System (GERS), is hemorrhaging badly. School chiren saying that the proposed cuts can range between 30-42%. Wow! Imagine if you were a retiree receiving a $1000 per month and had to take either a $300 or $420 reduction monthly, how would you feel. Food for thought for a BVI.

      Well, the BVI public sector does not have a sinking fund retirement system; it is a pay as you go system. If the central government falters, it poses retiree challenges. BVI needs a sinking fund system. Nonetheless, social security needs to take heed. Cannot slaughter much needed short term needs on the altar of long-term, long-term needs. We must look well beyond the end of a beautiful rainbow.

  10. Jericho says:

    It is about time legislators think differently if they don’t want the Virgin Islands to go on a path of poverty. Helping the people is empowering the people. Empower them at a time when they can’t provide for themselves. COVID-19 is no fault of the people. Only a disgraceful politician would take bread out people mouth. In a short time so many people are out of work and can’t provide for them family. This idiot politician first complain that the government slow on providing stimulus plan because he’s the big bad elite with the wise owl plan. Now the government feeding the people and he still has a problem. I cannot think of a greater time for the Social Security Board to contribute. Thank you BVI government for building an unemployment programme where people can get benefits to help themself.

    Like 1
    Dislike 3
  11. wellness says:

    social security money should be left alone .SS would not be sustainable if we keep “picking its wallet”.
    Plus how the stimulus package would be equitable to all after all every working person in bvi contribute to SS. this has nothing to do with belonger , islander, expemption etc .

  12. Anonymous says:

    NDP has been using social security as a life line for years and we never heard a word of disagreement from anybody in NDP including Marlon.
    Marlon didn’t complain when they took $16 million in 2015 from the same SSB to fix the roads even though the roads were full of potholes months later. NDP used SSB for some funding to Peebles Marlon didn’t say anything. Marlon barely whisper when they took his sewage money to fund the Pier Park. When Mitch, Delores, Archie saw the light Marlon stuck by his government even when $7.2 flew away with the thrushes. Marlon isn’t a freedom fighter he is just someone that will oppose nearly everything that government does for the sake of opposing.

    Like 3
    Dislike 3
    • Cult Follower says:

      Please remain anonymous Spewing this rubbish. You people don’t understand we don’t care about NDP this and NDP that! That’s why we voted them out! We must hold this Government accountable for what they’re doing. How can you take 40 million dollars of pensioners money as a Grant!? With no explanation to the public, this is crazy. So please stop your NDP distraction.

      This administration is moving like dictatorship/cult where those who do not follow what they say is attacked. Like what they’ve gone and do with banning all two wheel Mode of travel! These people are infringing on our civil liberties. Is the BVI becoming a dictatorship? We better pay attention.

  13. My God says:

    People stop it..NDP took a loan of 15M from the SSB not a grant.There is a damn big difference..Hell many folks aren’t happy at all.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
    • @mygod says:

      You stop calling on god when telling you lies. That $15 million will never be paid back because the bank is still in debt holding up by SSB. Get your facts straight and come again. You confused because national disgraceful party gave no transparency.

  14. Tongue Fu says:

    I understand why some would want to attack the messenger’s credibility but that should not be done at the expense of the message especially if he has a point.

    The Grant should have been a loan unless it would it have affected the financial protocols. What we would like to know is the financial position of the SSB by them presenting audited financials to the public. Regardless, 62.5 million is barely a band-aid with all the damage done to the economy.

  15. Smoke says:

    @ Truth , can you please tell us where the money came from.?

  16. Luckey 13 says:

    I’ve got a question, when these 13 REPS…start to gave out to those in NEED, will it be by CASH or CHECK.? Anytime it’s by CASH, be sure to smell a RAT.

  17. Worried Senior says:

    “How can you take 40 million dollars of pensioners money as a Grant!? With no explanation to the public, this is crazy.”

    NDP, though not the ruling party anymore, has been voted out again because of this.

    This does not represent good financial, present or future, sound financial management policy.

    The public does not know the status of the SSB financial standings. Nonetheess, this appear to be a slippery slope to the financial novice..

    Are they not sacrificing the standard of living of future retirees and pensioneers?

  18. Minister Claire says:

    No need to blog on everything but I learned that God can handle wicked people better than I can. Jesus used two fish and a loaf of bread to feed the poor. He will not make us suffer. Through Christ the Social Security Board will not make the people hungry. God will handle the wicked and he will also flourish the SSB.

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