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More Lies! Dr Smith commits VI to new $2.85M CDB loan

- the public is unsure what other financial commitments the Premier has made on behalf of tax payers without informing the House of Assembly
It was revealed in the House of Assembly on November 13, 2017 that the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government has already received a ‘soft loan’ from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to the tune of $2.85M to be used for the clean up efforts following the Hurricanes. Photo: Internet Source
It was on October 25, 2017 that the Ninth District Representative Dr The Honourable Hubert O'Neal, left, confirmed that Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), right, had met with the IMF and World Bank via an invitation from the UK. Photo: VINO/File
It was on October 25, 2017 that the Ninth District Representative Dr The Honourable Hubert O'Neal, left, confirmed that Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), right, had met with the IMF and World Bank via an invitation from the UK. Photo: VINO/File
Opposition Leader Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) wanted to know how the Legislature was not made aware of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) loan and how much government will have to repay, but was left wanting for answers in the House of Assembly on November 13, 2017. Photo: VINO/File
Opposition Leader Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) wanted to know how the Legislature was not made aware of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) loan and how much government will have to repay, but was left wanting for answers in the House of Assembly on November 13, 2017. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It was clear that Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) had a rough time yesterday November 13, 2017 with his answers to questions in the House of Assembly.

The meeting was held in the Ashley Ritter Building at the Arbitration Centre on Wickham's Cay II, on the main island of Tortola.

The Virgin Islands Party two-member Opposition, with leader Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) and Hon. Julian Fraser RA (R3), grilled the second term Premier [2011-current] who has been in the Legislature since 1999.

It was clear that Dr Smith was unprepared, contradicted himself and gave misleading information in his answers, which including telling untruths.

Lies worse than lying Ted

When asked in the HoA by Opposition Leader Hon Fahie if he had already negotiated or received any loans to assist with the recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Finance Minister said, emphatically "no."

In response to another question by the Chairman of the Virgin Islands Party, Dr Smith confessed, to the surprise of many, that he had already received a "soft loan" from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to the tune of $2.85M to be used for the clean up efforts following the Hurricanes.

To this, the Opposition Leader Fahie asked how come the Legislature was not made aware and how much government will have to repay. To the latter, Honourable Smith said he did not have the information.

In fact, his Communications and Works Minister Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) intervened to help his boss by saying there is a protocol in place and "once a loan negotiation is finalised it must go to the Cabinet for approval and then come to the House."

However, this protocol was never followed, it appears on this one, which is another embarrassment for the 73 old Premier.

Dr Smith struggles to keep up with accurate answers

Most often other Members of his ruling party had to come to the Premier's rescue, shout responses at the Opposition Leader and the Speaker Hon Ingrid A. Moses had to bail him out by invoking the two- question follow up rule.

At one point, Hon Moses even told Premier Smith the Opposition Leader was asking for his opinion and he was not obligated to answer to the particular question.

Meanwhile, the Premier said the $2.85M already in hand from the CDB were given because "this is the amount they have for emergency response."

He further stated the loan funds from the CDB will be used to assist in paying heavy equipment operators for cleaning-up activities following the Hurricanes.

The Government has been under fire from the Opposition, a former Governor, civil society and the media for financial mismanagement, lack of transparency, and alleged corruption over the territory’s finances.

Many have warned, including political aspirant, businessman and former Permanent Secretary Julian Willock, about borrowing  from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader raised the question at the Sitting how government is able to secure loans to fund the recovery efforts with no audited financial statements for years.

To this, the Premier again misled the public by claiming he never approached the IMF and World Bank or has requested an amount from the CDB, adding that officials from the regional leading institution are currently doing assessments in the Virgin Islands.

Who to believe? A tale of two stories

In the usual conflicting information and lies coming from the NDP Government, it was on October 25, 2017 at a public meeting in Valley, Virgin Gorda that the Ninth District Representative Dr The Honourable Hubert O'Neal confirmed that Dr Smith had met with the IMF and World Bank via an invitation from the UK.

Dr O'Neal, at the same meeting, also confirmed that the Premier had secured some $50M from the CDB in loans. However, with a straight face in the HoA on November 13, 2017 Dr Smith said he never met with the IMF or World Bank and no final loans were secured from the CDB.

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