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For better or worst- The deal breaker

Repercussions from the ills of the past National Democratic Party (NDP) administration will not go away any time soon as may be expected by some Opposition Members. To think that the local community will eventually forget about the brutally tough times the territory has undergone since the hurricanes is absurd, as the further away from it we get, the stronger the reminders become. Photo: Provided
Ministers of Government from the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration: The VIP Government now assumes the daunting task as they face the full-time battle to transform the territory while tackling the covert takeover attempts by Britain. Photo: Provided
Ministers of Government from the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration: The VIP Government now assumes the daunting task as they face the full-time battle to transform the territory while tackling the covert takeover attempts by Britain. Photo: Provided
By Kenneth G. Gladstone

The NDP administration may never recover from the fatal blow delivered to them by the Virgin Islands’ electorate. The full-blown dissatisfaction of the territory was unreservedly expressed at the polls, and everyone including those who had no interest in local politics, ensured that the handsome gentlemen above will never be allowed to sit in the House of Assembly as government heads again.

Well, as my late grandmother always say, you cannot change a black cat white! If it is that the NDP government was deliberate in positioning itself in the current situation, that’s one thing. The problem is the fact that some of us are incapable of seeing when the hand is writing on the wall, and as a result, we are all left to deal with the ghosts of the past administration.

It must be noted that the repercussions from the ills of the past administration will not go away any time soon as may be expected by some opposition members. To think that the local community will eventually forget about the brutally tough times the territory has undergone since the hurricanes is absurd, as the further away from it we get, the stronger the reminders become. Is it that the NDP government really tried to destroy the Virgin Islands by its actions?

As a result, the new VIP administration now assumes the daunting task as they face the full-time battle to transform the territory in the following major areas:

1. Changing the culture of government to a more transparent, people-oriented model.

2. Ensuring that every government representative does exactly what they say they will do and not just talk.

3. Establish new international relationships to attract new investments and programmes into the Virgin Islands to strengthen the socio, micro and macro-economic structure of the Virgin Islands to transform the lives of the average man on the street.

Can they handle it?

The new VIP administration headed by Premier Andrew A. Fahie, began their political term with a bang. Premier Fahie established the unconventional, no-nonsense approach, which for the most part is quite refreshing and could be a bit frightening to the disillusioned who have no clue as to what to expect next. This government model requires much consistency amidst the current level of resistance if it is to be eventually accepted. The fact is, locals are not accustomed to hard-face government. They have been cultured by past politicians to think that whatever they need is available. Just call Daddy!

How will this administration break that culture under the current pressure? If this administration chops down the cherry tree, angry beneficiaries will be waiting outside the door as they seek other ways to continue their supply of scarce benefits and spoils! The new Premier made it plain that his responsibility is to look out for locals and belongers, which in my mind is exclusionary governance given the fact that there is a seventy-five per cent immigrant population residing in the territory. Yet the question on the mind of everyone is: What will eventually happen in the Virgin Islands under this administration?

While the rat race escalates, mothers struggle to acquire the necessities to send their children back to school, and while many people fight to get their lives back together two years after the hurricanes with many still unemployed, government is yet to balance itself on both legs. While the Premier continues to seek financial solutions, the electorate braces itself very quietly, watching the every move of this new administration with abated breath, unwilling to allow the Andrew A. Fahie led administration the luxury of carelessness. It is noteworthy that the people’s eyes are now fully open because of the pain and disappointment they experienced under the past administration, and the territory at large is not prepared to sit idly by to watch this government squander millions of taxpayer’s dollars again at their expense! Therefore, the current government will be under serious pressure from every side, even from Britain!

An RDA government?

It is an established fact that Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert should have no business in local politics. Yet, one would expect that he, being the Queen’s representative, would have taken a more proactive role in the restoration of the Virgin Islands in favour of the new Virgin Islands administration given that he has a deeper understanding of the core issues on the ground. It was quite embarrassing when he, Governor Jaspert, told the past NDP Premier and his entourage after the hurricanes, that Britain is not an open chequebook for the Virgin Islands. As embarrassing as that was, was it a blanket statement? One would expect that regardless of which government sits in the house, if the Virgin Islands are owned by Britain, Britain should take responsibility for restoring the battered territory. From what I am seeing, there seems to be a power game at play instead of Britain operating in the best interest of the Virgin Islands.

It was published after the 2017 hurricanes that the Queen gave a grant of one billion pounds to India to assist in building the tallest statue that side of the world. Premier Fahie recently reminded us that under the NDP government, the United Kingdom through a reconstruction package for the Virgin Islands promised up to three hundred million pounds in loan guarantees, and ten million in grants to support the territory’s recovery after the hurricanes.

To date, this has not yet materialised. However, following the establishment of the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) due to mistrust in the then NDP government, Premier Fahie is now informing the territory that the UK is demanding that in order for the Virgin Islands to receive the funds, the territory’s financial control should be handed over to the RDA! Did I hear right??

The question is: If India was given a grant of one billion pounds to assist in building the largest lifeless piece of garbage, why would the Virgin Islands be expected to give Britain full financial control over the lives of the people therein for three hundred and ten million pounds? What is happening here? Is it that Britain also mistrusts the Andrew A. Fahie led administration and sees the RDA as the safest option under Governor Jaspert to manage the financial resources of the territory? The implementation of the RDA under the past administration to curb wanton spending could perhaps be understood, but to take financial control from the Minister of Finance is making a hell of a statement, and renders this government powerless, which by extension, renders the Virgin Islands powerless and the people dependent. This is actually an insult in the presence of a duly elected Premier who happens to be the Minister of Finance! Is this actually saying that the Virgin Islands government headed by Andrew A. Fahie is incapable of managing three hundred and ten million pounds? If this is so, there are many questions to be answered!

On the other hand, the exchange of development money for full financial control over the territory, even though this is a cheap bait, seems to be a tactical ploy to lure local government into giving Britain full control over the Virgin Islands and its financial resources at the expense of local stupidity. Be thou warned that the man who controls your money, controls your life! The Premier and his government would only be figureheads in the Virgin Islands as full British control would be executed through the Governor and the RDA. Is this Britain’s ultimate plan to assume full control over the Virgin Islands? Are the financial resources of the Virgin Islands this important to Britain? How then could the territory be treated the way Britain has treated it for as long as this has been the case?

Deal or no deal?

If the Virgin Islands has achieved modernisation through concerted local thinking, transforming the bird sanctuary to the world acclaimed reputable territory it has become with little help from Britain, why has it taking the territory so long to stand on its own two feet to protect and continue its achievements? Is it that the government prefers to have the dignity of its people trampled on by Britain simply because the territory uses a British passport? Is the territory prepared to sell its birthright for a few bucks?

I trust Premier Fahie to be the smart leader who is prepared to fight to protect the territory from a covert “take over,” and given that he is prepared to consult with the people on this matter, this is prudent governance, and I commend him!

It must be categorically stated that it is not in the best interest of the RDA to administer in the best interest of the local black population, but according to a statement earlier published, they clearly stated that local contractors are not equipped to manage the scope of development required, thus implying that they will be bringing in their friends or associates to do the work. My question is, did the Virgin Islands bring in foreign contractors to develop its infrastructure to the level it currently is today, or was it done by local contractors? The RDA’s statement connotes that their white capitalist friends abroad would be the beneficiaries of millions of dollars of local money, leaving the local populace impoverished as they watch their financial resources drained away to external sources in the name of development and protecting the best interest of Britain.

The time has come for the Virgin Islands government to maintain and protect full control over the financial resources of the territory to the benefit of the local community. It the territory belongs to Britain, let them fulfil their duty to the territory. If they are not prepared to fulfil their moral obligation, Virgin Islands Government must strive to prudently manage the territory with an understanding of the local people to empower them to make the Virgin Islands the world-class economy it can become through inclusive engagement for autonomous growth, regardless of nationality or creed. The borrower can become a slave to the lender if he is not smart. In this case, it is not about the money borrowed, as loans will always play a significant role in driving economies and broadening the macro-economic base of any society. What matters most, in this case, are the terms attached to the loan.

Handing over total financial control to Britain is absolutely stupendous. Why would you build your house then give it away to strangers, leaving yourself under a tree? Unconventional decisions must now be made, backed by the total unity of the Virgin Islands community in moving the territory to a place of full autonomy! If the Andrew A. Fahie led government is not brave or smart enough to do so, the next generation will be a nation of squatters in their own country!

Thanks for reading. More next week.

4 Responses to “For better or worst- The deal breaker”

  • 123 (19/08/2019, 17:30) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
    a good read we need to march
  • Fact checks (20/08/2019, 08:40) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    UK did NOT give India the grant for building that statue. It gave the grant as overseas aid, and there was outrage when it was realised that India was building a $300m plus statue (from other revenue sources) at the same time.
    • Scruge (20/08/2019, 09:56) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
      The bottom line is that England seems to be more hospitable towards independent countries that it is to those that are within its household.
  • virginislander (22/08/2019, 20:15) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Myron and mark f..k up the NDP with their greed

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