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Lies, half-truths, the spin machine on UK Recovery Plan Framework

- The pro lobbying group aligned with Premier Smith changed poster & removed 'loans' in second effort!
The first poster (left) by a few supporters of Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) had urged the public to join the movement and accept the UK ‘loans’ and all other donations while the second poster (right) told the public to accept the UK ‘help’ and all other donations. Photo: Team of Reporters
The controversial billboard opposing the UK Framework for the BVI Recovery Plan. Photo: VINO/File
The controversial billboard opposing the UK Framework for the BVI Recovery Plan. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) had sparked much controversy when he blamed some elements within his own National Democratic Party (NDP), as possible culprits for the billboard. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) had sparked much controversy when he blamed some elements within his own National Democratic Party (NDP), as possible culprits for the billboard. Photo: VINO/File
The National Democratic Party (NDP) Government has said it will cost well over $3Billion dollars to help the Virgin Islands recover from the devastating hurricanes of September 2017. Photo: VINO/File
The National Democratic Party (NDP) Government has said it will cost well over $3Billion dollars to help the Virgin Islands recover from the devastating hurricanes of September 2017. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It was on February 28, 2018 that a small group of residents erected a controversial billboard in Road Town on the main island of Tortola, requesting that the public call their elected representatives and ask them to vote “no” on the UK Framework For The BVI Recovery Plan.

While most local political and social activists denied being involved, a few hours later, the same day February 28, 2018 at a hastily arranged press conference, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) blamed some elements within his own National Democratic Party (NDP), as possible culprits for the billboard.

A few days later, on Monday March 5, 2018 at a public ceremony to honour the Territory’s first and late Chief Minister H. Lavity Stoutt, Dr Smith again raised the billboard issue, as it seemed to have gotten under his skin.

On Monday March 12, 2018 in a prerecorded broadcast, Premier Smith hit the airways trying to sell his half-baked UK Framework for the BVI Recovery Plan, when in fact it was unearthed that Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert aka ‘Gus’ told legislators at a closed door meeting this week that Premier Smith had already given the UK government a copy of the plan in November 2017 in exchange for loan guarantees.

Hands tied

The Colonial Power had agreed to help its British Overseas Territory following two killer storms via technical assistance, food, water, equipment and manpower and some small grants, which they delivered weeks after the Hurricanes of 2017 and the manpower continues in many public sector bodies today.

However, the real money needed for the recovery that Premier Smith said will cost well over $3Billion, the UK only committed to guarantee all loans up to $419 USD.

In other words, if the Territory defaults on the loan payments, then the UK will be obligated to repay the loans.

No loan money from UK

The UK is not giving the Virgin Islands a dime in loans. However, for the loan guarantee to take place the Territory must agree to set up an alternative Independent Agency to keep the elected officials hands off all the money. In addition, they must also cut the civil service and privatise many of government services, among other demands, in order to receive the loan guarantee.

A part of the demand also is for all projects to be open to bidding by the international community, competing against small local businesses. To bring this alternative agency, which some Opposition Parliamentarians described as an alternate government, into force legislation must come about and Premier Smith, with not much choice, introduced the Bill VI Recovery & Development Agency Act 2018 on March 15, 2018.

Tell the truth on posters

Meanwhile, following Premier Smith’s speech on Monday March 12, 2018 his supporters within the divided ruling party sent out a poster that read, “join the movement, accept the UK loans and all other donations.”

This message is indeed disingenuous and deliberately misleading as the UK is not giving the Territory a dime in loans, only guaranteeing loans.

Following some push back from critics of the Administration, civil servants, and news articles, the pro Dr Smith group came up with a new poster this time, claiming “accept UK help and all other donations.”

In fact, this is even more discrediting and false, as there was never any question of 'accepting UK help and all donations.' In fact, it was the Dr Smith Government immediately after the hurricanes last year that turned away many of the donations, while others have been left to spoil at the Festival Ground in Road Town, and other holding sites on the main island.

The international community has lost faith in the NDP regime and have been telling the world not to give donations directly to this government, but instead to non-governmental organisations like churches, Red Cross and Rotary clubs.

It is important that as we go forward whatever propaganda and spin that are coming out of this administration be fact-checked by the local and regional news organisations, civil society and whistle blowers.

41 Responses to “Lies, half-truths, the spin machine on UK Recovery Plan Framework”

  • question (17/03/2018, 20:56) Like (26) Dislike (4) Reply
    What is the alternative to accepting UK assistance being offered?
    • Alterative (18/03/2018, 08:33) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      SSB and acountability-but accountability- curruption placing our children in debt but we do not want to go to jail for said curruption...
      • LOL (18/03/2018, 09:42) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
        SSB is sitting on 500M in cash and investments anf will loan govt 400M. Seems sensible. SMH!
  • fish (17/03/2018, 20:58) Like (29) Dislike (12) Reply
    Well done VINO with out you democracy goes dark in the bvi
  • voter (17/03/2018, 21:02) Like (21) Dislike (3) Reply
    Keep out of ndp war let them kill themselves and i pray and hope they do not kill the country in between
  • Well Sah (17/03/2018, 21:22) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Well sah
  • Only 3 words (17/03/2018, 21:39) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    I tell you...
  • Welsah (17/03/2018, 21:41) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
    All this pressure must burst some pipe. Waiting for PWD to clean up after.
  • Just saying... (17/03/2018, 21:47) Like (19) Dislike (9) Reply
    Hey Premier, (imo) i think it’s time to hang up you gat. You can’t even keep your lies straight anymore; tripping all over yourself at this point.
  • All I can say (17/03/2018, 21:51) Like (16) Dislike (2) Reply
    Dog dead.
  • meeee (17/03/2018, 21:55) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    Can this get any worst?
  • Freedom wages (17/03/2018, 21:56) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    NDP is leading up right back to whence we came . Nuff said.
  • It’s time (17/03/2018, 21:59) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    To call new elections. Enough is Enough. Do we all need to be picking cotton to see what is happening?
    • @Its Time.. Best optiin (18/03/2018, 08:08) Like (7) Dislike (10) Reply
      New and Early Election to vote for who? NDP bad. VIP ain't ready. Back benchers take over is right now the best option
  • Lord please (17/03/2018, 22:27) Like (11) Dislike (13) Reply
    Help us. I only had one meal today because I had to pay for rent and internet so I can at least know what is happening in our country on vino. Can we ever recover from our transgressions? Last elections I did get me driveway park for my family votes, but after the hurricanes the black turf that was layed is all gone, now I am wondering if it had all worth it with our government and country at the state of anarchy. Me, for one, have learned my lesson. Next election I will not be taking any handouts nor favorite to put my children in further dilemma.
    • Divided Back Benchers (18/03/2018, 07:55) Like (7) Dislike (17) Reply
      Mitch, Akvera, Marlon, Archie, Bertie, Delores all capable and bright people. Now its all about courage, country, compromise, opportunity, Career, optimism and confidence. Ask me to select 3 Minister material. I will say Mitch, Marlon and Alvera. I heard Archie and Bernie are reluctant about the take over. They know best but thats the only chance they have of getting re-elected.
      • @ Divided Backbenchers (18/03/2018, 19:10) Like (13) Dislike (10) Reply
        While you plot a backbencher takeover always remember how Jesus was betrayed and crucified. Nothing good comes out of evil. Thie evil is being manifested. Some cannot sleep at night. NdP government failed put this country on the verge of bankruptcy and poverty. All ndp members must step down or forced out together. There is no other solution than to get rid of them all.
  • SMH (17/03/2018, 22:29) Like (25) Dislike (14) Reply
    Ndp must go
  • well well well (17/03/2018, 23:34) Like (52) Dislike (15) Reply
    Because of the unchecked NDP corruption the Premier under blackmail has sold we the people out so that he can keep his Ministers, himself and the one that wears the pants out of jail.
  • Trust Issue (18/03/2018, 02:38) Like (27) Dislike (0) Reply
    We need the Money. But there is a trust, a greed and an accountability issue in high places that England is aware of. So they are putting things in place to make sure we the citizen dont get fooled and robbed. Its our leaders that caused this upon themselves and upon us.. Maybe we should get the money in instalments
    • nonsense (18/03/2018, 09:07) Like (7) Dislike (24) Reply
      If there was a trust issue they wouldnt approve 400mil in borrowing, they wouldve sent their own people and money to do the works. Only a damn fool would belirve that the UK doesnt trust us but underwriting $400mil in borrowing. People are shameless using this issue to push theit political and personal agendas. There is nothing stopping the UK from sending contractors and project managers here directly to fix the place. The fact that they havent done so means all is not lost. The government through Ministries will identify priority areas for spending and the process goes through the agency to ensure monies are spent properly. You would think we would be happy about that?
  • ... (18/03/2018, 03:19) Like (6) Dislike (16) Reply
    When the flag goes up only NDP will be at the starting gate the VIP under anderw seems dead
  • Diplomat (18/03/2018, 04:01) Like (15) Dislike (2) Reply
    There seems to be much distrust between the VI-UK supposed partnership. There is no doubt that the VI was battered by two monster hurricanes, Irma and Maria; the evidence is obvious. The only thing debatable is the estimated damages and recovery cost. $3.6B is the current working estimate published by government. In response, the UK offered £13M ($13M) in grants, and £400M ($403M) in loan guarantees (co-sign). Assuming that the $3.6B recovery estimate is in the ballpark, the $403M in loan guarantees is a mere drop in the bucket. For the drop in the bucket $403M, the UK is behaving like the IMF, WB IADB....etc; they are setting some interesting structural adjustments terms and conditions. For example, it is dictating a separate and discrete board outside of government direct control to manage the loans procured under the loan guarantee proposal, along with reforming the civil service, restructuring the BVI government organizational structure.......etc.

    Clearly and undoubtedly, the UK has had serious and growing concerns about how the VI managed its financial resources, the size of the civil service and its governing organizational structure. And is using this opportunity to impose the internal management controls. Faced with few options to fund the recovery, government readily and quickly accepted the terms and conditions and the internal management controls. However, the government made a ready-fire-aim error; it signed the agreement before consulting with residents. And to add insult to injury, it solicited input from residents without telling them that the recovery plan was already approved by the UK. This was disingenuous and poor politics. This tarnished government’s integrity and credibility, along with honesty, trust and confidence in it. Further, the terms and conditions were one sided, distrustful (probably earned) and insulting.

    Moreover, though the civil service is in urgentneed of reform, the rushed approach to reform it is neither effective nor useful and is counter productive. There must be a timely and structured process to reform the civil service. It is creating false hope that effective reform can be attained in a few months. Reforming the civil service in a few months is delusional. An experienced consultant should be hired to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the civil service and make recommendations for improvements. Further, an experienced consultant or working group should also be hired to look at the public sector organizational structure and make recommendations for organizational structural change.
    • @Diplomat (18/03/2018, 09:13) Like (11) Dislike (12) Reply
      Would any govt underwrite half a billion USD for people they have trust issues with? It seems we just love to be negative for the hell of it. When VIP was the govt they couldnt even access 15mil because the UK stopped it. Dont take my word for it go and research the CDB loan that VIP couldnt access but NDP accessed it when they were elected. Here we are getting 400mil underwritten outright by the UK and all they ask are for checks and balances to ensure its spent properly and you talk about trust issues. Laughable at best!
    • reaper (18/03/2018, 09:37) Like (8) Dislike (5) Reply
      @Diplomat

      http://www.bvi.gov.vg/sites/default/files/public_consultation_on_the_recovery_and_development_of_the_british_virgin_islands.pdf

      The UK is right. We don't need to waste our limited time and money with more consultants.

      1. There must be an independent board to manage the recovery and development loans.
      2. The civil service must be restructured and the outrageous pension scheme reformed.
      3. Non-core services must be privatized.

      $403 mil might be small, but this is the right time to start these reforms. We have 5 years in which to do it, not a few months. Stop misleading people.
  • Albeit (18/03/2018, 07:02) Like (14) Dislike (4) Reply
    The captain was never steering the ship. His first mate/First Lady make Irma look like a joke. Poor BVI with these selfish thoughtless people. What’s even more sad is the people won’t stand up against this just sit and mumble.
  • See (18/03/2018, 07:30) Like (27) Dislike (7) Reply
    Just take the damn loan and play by their rules . We made our own bed and now have to sleep in it . Years of financial waste and secrecy . Lets get on with rebuilding our country because at the moment it seems that the only people out there rebuilding our cointry volunteers
  • Street reporter (18/03/2018, 07:40) Like (2) Dislike (10) Reply
    NDP have learnt their lesson. They now know all Eyes on them. They are now going to do things right. No need to worry about money misuse and abuse any more. We need the money, but with that amount of death the BVI will never be the same again.. The reality is its either cut (staff ) or increase revenue (VAT).. Hard to understand how this one prosperous place end uP in this bad bad situation. Failure Its always bad management over a period of time. VIP and NDP... Greed power opportuniry...Who in power can be trusted?
  • sad (18/03/2018, 09:12) Like (6) Dislike (9) Reply
    I remember the days when the BVI was UK's little baby . Now they seem to want nothing to do with us . This sense of isolation is saddening. This island was not hard to run and maintain , Once full of hope and a "paradise " , Now a confusion , corrupt and crime infested island ....
  • Jesus is Saviour (18/03/2018, 09:19) Like (14) Dislike (5) Reply
    Fellow people of the BVIs. Get rid of the Premier, his ministers and backbenchers quickly. Don’t be fooled people. All of them failed this country. Not even them can help themselves. The money taken will run out. Cut the supply now. All who distancing themselves now like they are not a part of a failed government is all a prank to stay in power. Enough with the premier fancy half truth speeches. Do it to save this country. Know how to identify wolves in sheep clothing. God has sent a messenger to reveal the iniquities. Take heed. Protect your life, family and you country. Get rid of them all.
  • enough (18/03/2018, 10:13) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
    The NDP has failed us but the problem is alot of ayo still don't want to admit it because you love them so much and you saw them as the only savior for the BVI. That's the main issue in all of this.
  • well saw (18/03/2018, 11:50) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    How can a Government who has lost the confidence of the people and the UK still be in power, who is to blame. Is it Gov Duncan , the system or the voters who see elections as a popularity contest. This is very disturbing.

    It is alleged that it started when the UK told this Gov in 2006 not to get any loans to build the hospital because a bad recession is going to hit the world. So determined the Government went through the back door and got social security money where they did not have to get permission from uk to spend and the VIP then came in and continued rather than straighten up things. Now that project has led to NHI and a noose around the neck of our economy.

    I dont know if we have much of a choice of not taking this money even if it put us in debt. However I am for the recovery board controlling it if this Government is to remain in power.
  • ausar (18/03/2018, 12:09) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    Could this be the final nail that drives this country to the cemetary


    I think that the Premier should leave that momey alone. In a state of disaster why is the Kingdom not interested in helping the country ?Its almost as if they want the BVI to fail and submit to bankruptcy and subsequent outright poverty for our people

    I'm bereft of words trying to explain the seeming heavyhandedness the Kingdom has dictated to our Premier by this deal

    Is this their way of signaling to us the reality of a pending dooms day up to to include independence

    Premier, we're counting on your sound judgement to lead us out of this mess.

    Be careful of where your signatory is placed

  • Culture (18/03/2018, 17:35) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Farmers know how to bounce back work with them.
  • east man (19/03/2018, 02:22) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Even if we go to an election vip still not ready all they got is Willock


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