Premier Smith doubles down; hosts Chinese Ambassador to UK
It remains unclear who is pushing the Premier but he stood his grounds on firing the Chairman of the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) Board, John I. Cline.
There were many calls from strong National Democratic Party (NDP) supporters, Cabinet Members and Backbenchers to give Mr Cline a chance with "conditions" but in the end Dr Smith demanded he had to go.
It appears too that Premier Smith is also standing up to the NDP critics of the deal to have the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport runway extension project awarded to a foreign company, China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), while snubbing the company ADC, which, has a local partner and interest.
However, Premier Smith is moving full speed ahead with the Chinese state owned CCCC, who was cited by the World Bank for corruption and fraudulent practices on many of its projects worldwide.
Chinese representative on the ground already
Today, January 10, 2017 Premier Smith hosted the Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Liu Xiaoming.
According to senior government sources, one of the topics included cementing the awarding of the runway extension contract to CCCC and helping to allegedly facilitate the $150M loan from a Chinese bank to fund the project.
The meeting was not open to the press or did the secretive NDP administration alert the press on the visit of the high ranking official.
It’s unclear how long the Chinese Ambassador H. E. Xiaoming will be in the British Overseas Territory and his agenda while here.
Trouble in the Camp over project
The Smith Administration continues to be divided over the airport project and the awarding of the contract to the company owned by the People’s Republic of China.
It has caused much division of the Government, with two rebel Ministers- Hons Myron V. Walwyn (AL) and Ronnie W. Skelton (AL)- not supporting the deal in Cabinet.
It’s our understanding that up to three backbenchers have expressed serious objections about supporting the loan funding for the project; however, it’s left to be seen if they have the courage to go public and vote against it in the House of Assembly.