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4 Backbenchers write to Premier Smith objecting to Recovery Agency & Board!

- other signatory, Opposition Member Hon Julian Fraser RA reads protest letter in HoA
From left: Sixth District Representative Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines, Fifth District Representative Hon Deloris Christopher, Second District Representative Hon Melvin M. Turnbull, and Junior Minister for Tourism and At Large Representative Hon Archibald C. Christian are the Backbenchers that wrote to their boss, Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), objecting to the Recovery and Development Agency and Board. Photo: VINO/Facebook
Opposition Member Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3), also signed the letter written to Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) expressing their objection to the establishment of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency and Board, which was stipulated by the United Kingdom in its High Level Framework for UK Support of BVI Recovery. Photo: VINO/File
Opposition Member Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3), also signed the letter written to Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) expressing their objection to the establishment of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency and Board, which was stipulated by the United Kingdom in its High Level Framework for UK Support of BVI Recovery. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has refused to be transparent with even his own Backbenchers and Opposition Members on the High Level Framework for UK Support to BVI Recovery. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has refused to be transparent with even his own Backbenchers and Opposition Members on the High Level Framework for UK Support to BVI Recovery. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Four Backbenchers, along with Opposition Member Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3), have written to Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) expressing their objection to the establishment of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency and Board, which was stipulated by the United Kingdom in its High Level Framework for UK Support of BVI Recovery.

The letter, which was given to the Premier on March 18, 2018, was read during the Third Sitting of the Third Session of the Third House of Assembly on March 22, 2018. Members at the time were debating the Virgin Islands Recovery & Development Agency Act 2018.

Hon Fraser, who has made his objection to the Bill very clear, was allowed to read the letter to Premier Smith after House Speaker Hon Ingrid A. Moses-Scatliffe had recessed the House until Hon Fraser was able to give her a hard copy of the letter.

Those expressing their objection to Dr Smith even before the Bill for the Virgin Islands Recovery & Development Agency Act 2018 is voted on are Fifth District Representative Hon Deloris Christopher, Second District Representative Hon Melvin M. Turnbull, Sixth District Representative Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines, Junior Minister for Tourism and At-Large Representative Hon Archibald C. Christian and Opposition Member and Third District Representative Hon Fraser.

Backbenchers object

The signatories to the letter stated that the Bill cited as the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act 2018, was first circulated to members via email on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, and was introduced to the House of Assembly and had its first reading on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

The Members said they were concerned that the Bill was scheduled to be debated on Thursday, March 22, 2018, without the benefit of relevant and timely information being provided and that there has been a blatant lack of transparency in this process.

“The draft Bill reveals the underlying intent behind the establishment of this agency which propose to manage our government finances, projects and procurement pertaining to recovery and development in the Territory. Our concern is enlarged by the fact that much activity in Ministries and departments have already begun without the knowledge and consent of Ministers who constitutionally hold responsibility for those subjects.”

More concerns

They further said the establishment of the Recovery and Development Agency and the Board as detailed in the Bill raises questions regarding the monitoring authority and its accountability to the duly elected members of the House of Assembly as representatives of the people.

“We, therefore, confirm that we do not support the establishment of the Recovery and Development Agency of this nature and do so mindful of the need to protect the current and future development of the people of the Virgin Islands and their right to self-determination. We do this with full cognisance of the Territory’s perceived need to borrow money and wish to find out our alternative option to borrow locally until the limits of our guidelines to borrow are maximised.”

This, they said, will avoid the long-term obligation to international institutions which seeks to justify the establishment of the Agency.

Hons Christopher and Christian had previously said they had many concerns about the Recovery and Development Agency and Board and were going to raise “numerous concerns” during the debates.

Meanwhile, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering and Ninth District Representative Dr The Honourable Hubert R. O’Neal supported the Bill, with Hon O’Neal saying the people in his district were suffering and need help.

However, both Hons Christopher and Christian asked that the House be recessed today, March 23, 2018, for the debates to continue with Members rejuvenated.

The UK has agreed to guarantee £300 million in loan guarantees and £10 million in grants to support the Territory's recovery after Hurricanes Irma and Maria but had set out strict guidelines and mandates, including calling for an independent agency to manage the monies borrowed, for the VI to engage in private sector reform, which some say is a code word for layoffs, among other things.

16 Responses to “4 Backbenchers write to Premier Smith objecting to Recovery Agency & Board!”

  • Hmmmm (23/03/2018, 10:56) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    “The draft Bill reveals the underlying intent behind the establishment of this agency which propose to manage our government finances, projects and procurement pertaining to recovery and development in the Territory. Our concern is enlarged by the fact that much activity in Ministries and departments have already begun without the knowledge and consent of Ministers who constitutionally hold responsibility for those subjects.”

    So if this is the case why none of the Ministers signed that letter? Hmmm.
  • just asking... (23/03/2018, 11:03) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    So foy did not sign?
  • Diplomat (23/03/2018, 11:48) Like (23) Dislike (1) Reply
    Ok. Here are some facts. One, the NDP poorly handled the Recovery Plan with the UK and Residents. Two, the BVI was devasted by 2 monster Cat 5 catastrophic hurricanes, Irma and Maria, along with a historic flood. Three, the BVI needs hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars to rebuild/recover. And four, the full HOA should have been briefed on the Recovery Plan before presenting it to the UK.

    That said, regrettably the deal is signed so the HOA members needs to work collaboratively and cooperatively, along with partnering with UK, to repair the faulty agreement. Yes, it will be embarrassing, for assuredly the UK thought that the BVI government had dot the I’s and cross the T’s with residents and their represensatives. Perhaps, the UK should have asked a for a majotity motion from the HOA supporting the agreement; with an 11-2 advantage, this should have been easy.

    Moreover, it was suggested that the BVI borrow from internal lenders. True, that is a funding source. But does local lenders have hundreds of millions to lend out, reserve requirements aside? Will government borrowing crowd out other local borrowers, ie, property owners rebuilding from storm damages? Is not external investment the life blood of the BVI economy? Will not UK guranteeing of the $400M result in a much lower interest rate? Yes. Is the the guaranteeing sum paltry? Yes. By the way, is the Hon Christian a junior minister?
  • ???? (23/03/2018, 12:32) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    Where is the fat kroak????
  • truth be told (23/03/2018, 12:49) Like (8) Dislike (6) Reply
    Sign or you are are voted out - your choice..
  • Only in the BVI (23/03/2018, 13:48) Like (16) Dislike (7) Reply
    It is so easy to criticize when you aren't in a leadership position. But to do so and not provide solutions, is weak! Some of these Ministers stand in the rear of our leadership and complain all day - WHERE ARE YOUR SOLUTIONS? Yes, I hear about borrowing locally, but at what interest rate? Talk about Mortgaging our children's future...

    I keep hearing that the Premier isn't doing anything to move us forward; but look at how much time is being wasted by people who "claim" they are working in the best interest of the country. Holding progress back... and still bitching about what is or isn't being done in their districts.

    Politics are not perfect; but I am actually pissed at this conduct - making our country look like utter fools by some of the idiot representatives in HOA. They are really too slow to grasp what is really at stake and you can't teach common sense!

    I've always been taught that family keep their quarrels in house and defend each other against everyone else. But then again, this is exactly the kind of behavior that has become norm in a country that appoints people to positions because of family rather than how they can perform or vote for people with no history of accomplishments.


    • I agree (23/03/2018, 16:17) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
      You can't teach common sense and neither can you teach wisdom!!! Go figure, but then again that will be too difficult for you to understand as obviously common sense is not very common.
  • Yes (23/03/2018, 14:10) Like (22) Dislike (2) Reply
    Picture you're the captain of a basketball team and 4 people at the end of the bench say they don't like the gameplan, would you change it if you know they're not gonna play? Lol
  • dude (23/03/2018, 15:36) Like (8) Dislike (14) Reply
    Not signing the country over to the UK for a loan guarantee of 300 million is obviously the right choice. In 5 yrs 300 million will look like 300 thousand, it's the same way they took advantage of our forefathers selling acres of land for $200. all the talk of education minister forcing us to learn mandarin etc why not start with BVI history & black history so we can know when we're being taken advantage of?
    • Ajic (24/03/2018, 07:35) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Dude you need to read between the lines. They seem to be upset over the Monitoring Agency. Why is this? Is it because we are so accustom of borrowing money locally, especially from Social Security and very little of the money goes for what it is intended for? The UK is simply saying if I give you this money I am going to make sure it is being spent wisely and for the purpose it is intended for. We like to speak about the right to self-determination. Time and time again leaders and citizens have had opportunities to prove themselves ready for self determination and they have always FAILED WITH A BIG FAT "F". So SHUT UP WITH THAT STUPID TALK!

      Four illiterate backbenchers, most still on-the -job-training trying to give advice on a topic I bet they don't even understand. Sit down and shut your backside.

      Leave our Social Security Money alone. Government always quick to want to borrow from Social Security because they know there is no accountability for the amount of money spent, pocketed or misappropriated. LEAVE THE PEOPLE RETIREMENT FUND ALONE!!!
  • concerned citizen (23/03/2018, 16:34) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    why is the public, the people of the BVI who are the ones that are the most affected by the decisions of the Government leaders they have elected in faith that they would work hard for all the belongers and residents that have committed themselves to be productive residents of these beautiful blessed islands, not an intricate part of the decisions affecting their lives. The government has failed in many areas in helping the truly needy of their own people. These people have the right to know what their elected officials are doing and should know the details of the proposed agreements under the debates. We are on the precipice of a new opportunity to start over and truly turn the BVI into a gemstone of the Caribbean in the coming future with choices we make now. I think the miracle of life spared here should be the wake-up call for ALL to rebuild to the Glory of God and his mercy. We all ask God every day for miracles to bear witness to his existence We got a BIG one What are we humans going to do in honor of his grace How soon some forget how grateful we should be and walk in that gratefulness each day This island could be the tourist ultimate holiday destination as an example of self sustainablity if we make good choices now
  • Belonger With A Broader Perspective (23/03/2018, 17:00) Like (9) Dislike (3) Reply
    I think everyone can agree that we weren't going to get this money without conditions due to misappropriation of funds in the Territory's government projects. At the same time, we have to remember that we are not an independent nation and the local government doesn't have the final say in matters like this one. We also have to be honest with ourselves and accept that the ministers in power haven't always made the best decisions which we are paying for now.
    We can source funds from private lending but if something goes wrong, who's left holding the bag? If the local government can't pay back due to misappropriation of funds, then we find ourselves in debt. What if the demands of the private lending is to acquire the property rebuilt from the funds lent? If you need a bailout, who do you think will have to do it? UK, of course. So we can go with private lending but we have to think about the what ifs beforehand vs scrambling to fix problems that could have been avoided.
    What's wrong with the education minister wanting the children to learn Mandarin? Let's educate our children so that they will be prepared for what is to come in the future. The children of the BVI need to understand that the world is bigger than Nature's Little Secret. Black history is important as well but don't minimize the importance to learn the new language of Business. Do you not see that the Chinese are taking over? China is one of the richest growing countries in the world. They manufacture goods that are exported from China to be imported in every country around the globe.
  • Street reporter (23/03/2018, 17:08) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    I'm glad Frazer is on board with the back benchers. Where is Marlon? Didn't expect Bertie to fight with them.. They need one more to make that change. Fahie will not.. Right now a new party is the way to go with the back benchers and Frazer..
    • what a ting! (23/03/2018, 18:21) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply
      No, they don't need any more. Ronnie is against it as well. 4 back benchers, Frazer, Fahie and Ronnie.
  • Honesty is the best policy (23/03/2018, 19:29) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    If the premier was upfront from the beginning there would not be all this bickering. His lack of transparency and honesty is the cause of what is happening now in the house of assembly. His poor and corrupt leadership is why the United Kingdom need to oversee spending for the recovery. I don't blame the UK one bit.

    This was destined to happen. No audits for years, mass over spending on projects, exuberant borrowing from local banks and spending money on ideas (airline etc.) that were doomed to fail is what have us where we are today.

    We need the help because I don't think Government has any more borrowing power locally from the look of it. The hurricanes didn't just blow roofs off...they also blew the lid off of Government's mismanagement.


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