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‘Some bridges are made to be burned down’- Hon Ronnie W. Skelton

- accuses UK of trying to take advantage of VI in its vulnerable state
Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton (AL) has accused the United Kingdom (UK) of seeking to take advantage of the Virgin Islands in its vulnerable state. Photo: Andre Dawson aka ‘Shadow’/File
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has been finding it difficult to get all his team members to support the Bill entitled: Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act 2018. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has been finding it difficult to get all his team members to support the Bill entitled: Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act 2018. Photo: VINO/File
The United Kingdom (UK) has pledged over $400M in loan guarantees and grants for the Virgin Islands, which was struck by two category 5 hurricanes in September 2017, but have set some strict rules for the VI Government, including that it sets up an independent agency that will manage the hurricane recovery loans. Photo: VINO/File
The United Kingdom (UK) has pledged over $400M in loan guarantees and grants for the Virgin Islands, which was struck by two category 5 hurricanes in September 2017, but have set some strict rules for the VI Government, including that it sets up an independent agency that will manage the hurricane recovery loans. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It was Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) who, in supporting the Bill for the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act 2018, had stated during the Third Sitting of the Third Session of the Third House of Assembly on March 22, 2018 that he had seen the movie Black Panther and one of the things that stuck with him is when the Wakanda chief had spoken at the United Nations.

“In times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build walls,” Dr Pickering had said the Wakanda chief stated.

However, according to Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton (AL), not all bridges should be kept, as they can let the enemies across.

‘UK trying to take advantage of us in our vulnerable state

Hon Skelton had stated clearly that he could not support the Bill in its current form as there were many concerns, including that the United Kingdom was seeking to strip the powers of the Minister of Finance as well as the other Ministers in creating a Recovery and Development Agency and Board that would be a law unto itself.

He also accused the UK of seeking to take advantage of the Virgin Islands in its vulnerable state.

“The British themselves never had any interest in our education, our healthcare, infrastructure. We have done it by the sweat of our brows, Madam Speaker, with lots of fight. And here we are again, 2018, because we were hit by two hurricanes, all of a sudden they see an opportunity of our vulnerabilities. Instead of trying to help us, all of these rules they coming with, what we should do and what we can’t do…” Hon Skelton stated in the House of Assembly on March 23, 2018.

The UK has pledged over $400M in loan guarantees and grants for the VI but have set some strict rules for the VI Government, including that it sets up an independent agency that will manage the hurricane recovery loans and that the Government engages in public sector reform, which many see as a code word for layoffs.

According to the Health Minister and former Minister of Finance, he finds it disrespectful that the UK should think that the VI Government could not be trusted to handle monies for the VI recovery.

He added that there are organisations in this country, the Caribbean islands, and around the globe that are proud of the accomplishments of the VI government, including for initiatives like Social Security, BVI Health Services Authority, BVI Electricity Corporation, and National Bank of the Virgin Islands. “These are institutions that are tested, that Ministers of Government are responsible for, and I don’t hear anything, all the foolishness that they implying in some of these correspondence, that Ministers can’t be trusted.”

“Madam Speaker, I am saying here, if they are taking my constitutional rights away from me as a Minister, to give to anybody else, I have a problem. And all my colleagues on the Frontbench know that I have that problem. We did not fight for constitutional advancement to be treated disrespectfully. And don’t tell me about building bridges and building this. Madam Speaker, some bridges are made to be crossed and some bridges are made to be burned down. It is not every bridge you have you should keep, because the enemies might get across.”

‘Stop letting these people disrespect us

Hon Skelton noted; however, that in dealing with the present Governor he gets the feeling of a “modern relationship” with the UK. “But whenever you get a correspondence, that the Premier gets and he allows us to see, it is a load of nonsense on a piece of paper, disrespecting us…We need to stand up and fight for our country. We have to stand up and stop letting these people disrespect us. If they don’t want to help us they need to tell us they don’t want to help us,” Hon Skelton added, noting that the UK is only giving $400m in loan guarantees and that the Virgin Islands still has to pay the money back.

“I don’t know why we scared to stand up. What they going to do to us? Take back their constitution? Then we will make another decision…What they are doing is wrong, every step of the way.”

‘What kind of democracy is this?

Hon Skelton continued that the UK was interfering in the parliamentary process of the VI and needed to stop it.

“We went through it [Bill], Madam Speaker, with some proposed amendments, and all of a sudden a correspondence come, we want this changed, we want that changed. What kind of democracy is this? If we are the parliament that is supposed to make laws for the good governance of our country and they supposed to assent to it, how can they direct you what to put in a law. What kind of foolishness is that? This is wrong and it needs to stop.”

He added that the VI is seeking to take the power away from the Minister of Finance and that the Recovery and Development Agency will be a government unto itself.

“Madam Speaker, some of the stuff does not make any sense and we need to let them know. Talking nicely to these people is not working. We cannot make a law in this House where we dilute the rights of the country’s responsibility because we need some money. We are not so tired like Esau who sold his birth right for a bowl of soup. We cannot do it.”

Social Security has $650M

Meanwhile, the question that has been asked by many who are sceptical of going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and other international lending agencies, is whether there were options right at home or in the Region.

Government has borrowed from Social Security on many occasions in the past and its reluctance to do so for the initial phase of the VI recovery has baffled some and spurred further speculations that there is a hidden agenda and that external forces are pressuring the VI to borrow elsewhere.

“Right now the Social Security is $650M. The last time I checked,” Hon Skelton, under whose responsibility the Social Security Board (SSB) falls, said.

The other Ministers who debated the Bill yesterday were Minister for Communications and Works Honourable Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) who supports the Bill wholeheartedly and Minister for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL). Opposition Leader Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) is the only HoA Member that has not yet contributed to the debate.

The House of Assembly has been recessed until Monday, March 26, 2018.

46 Responses to “‘Some bridges are made to be burned down’- Hon Ronnie W. Skelton”

  • Winston (24/03/2018, 08:44) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Pretty simple really.....if you don't like the terms don't go for it.Basic business.
  • movie (24/03/2018, 08:52) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
    WAKANDA is fake ..Bvi real ..this feels like a movie , but its not . Nuff said
  • strictly local (24/03/2018, 08:52) Like (16) Dislike (26) Reply
    Ronnie is 100% local that's why he got our back, unlike Market and Myrunner who dont give a darm about us because they came to prog and reap the sweet
    • Skelton (24/03/2018, 09:22) Like (14) Dislike (3) Reply
      Is the black slave master, has made his money and now playing games with native sons & daughters
    • Ukmustgo!! (26/03/2018, 14:47) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      Ronnie W. Skelton and Delores Christopher are the only two who understand how the Virgin Islands was made. Ronnie is the only person talking much sense. People of the Virgin Islands, it is time to turn back the wheel of the British. It is time we become old hard back conchs and leave our Mother England. If we do not keep away from the UK, it will come for our birthright that our forefathers fought long and hard for -- our precious land. Let England, the UK and her other tails stay up there and take licks from the Muslims who almost took over their country. Let it take licks for what it did to the Caribbean people. In the meantime, VI, find a way to get out of those white boys country. Let's abandon the UK as our mother. She has raped us long enough. TIme to cut ourselves loose from her apron string.
  • friends (24/03/2018, 09:00) Like (18) Dislike (3) Reply
    I dont understand why do you want to go dip into the peoples money at Social security. The Recovery board is not something permanent. You know there were times when some of you all were good with the British carrying news down the white house against civil servants and Government ministers now you all crying wolf.
  • nonsense (24/03/2018, 09:01) Like (26) Dislike (5) Reply
    The UK has to approve any borrowing even if it is from the Social Security Board. Stop fooling people with nonsense as if they can just go for that money without any UK involvement. As a dependent Territory, whether we like it or not, the UK essentially guarantees our borrowing indirectly anyway and has to pay if we cant. It is time to stop fooling the people with bullshit stories!!
  • The inevitable (24/03/2018, 09:04) Like (26) Dislike (0) Reply
    The BVI is the new Turks and Caicos. The UK took control there a few years ago because of years of mismanagement of finances, overspending and no proper record keeping of said spending by the elected government at the time. For years the BVI has not been audited. The couple times the Auditor General conducted audits she was met with harsh criticism and non-cooperation from the powers that be. All the while the UK was intently watching...and waiting.

    We were given the previlage to govern ourselves all these years and did so quite successfully. We used it like a rope from which we climbed to higher heights but over time we slowly started to put accountability on the back burner and have now hang ourselves with it.

    It is sad that the affairs of the BVI has come to this but the people of this Territory deserve to be well informed and long for transparency when it comes to spending of our money. Sad it takes UK involvement to get that here because we didn't learn from our fellow Territory and now we find ourselves in the same predicament where history is repeating itself.
  • don't sell us for pieces of silver (24/03/2018, 09:07) Like (13) Dislike (16) Reply
    I agree with ronnie, delores, archie, fraser, marlon, alvera and whoever else is willing to join the struggle
    • Helpus (26/03/2018, 14:54) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      I have six goats, 12 ewe sheep and six rams; 48 fowl cocks, 6 acres of land and a motor boat. I want to join the struggle. We will ban together and work together like days of yore. I keep asking what did Antigua, Dominica, St. Kitts and Barbados had when they went independent? They had the will to leave them no-good enslavers from the UK.. Look at them today; they are thriving. People of the Virgin Islands, leave them enslavers alone -- the UK I mean. They are up to no good. If they cared about us they should have been giving us handouts without looking for a payback. Wicked Edomited. Leave Virgin Islands, leave the UK.
  • i from here (24/03/2018, 09:14) Like (6) Dislike (18) Reply
    We need a local Premier with a local wife
    • Reality check (24/03/2018, 11:15) Like (5) Dislike (8) Reply
      Why not a local female Premier; someone who we know would put all the cards on the tablet, honesty, sincere and BVI driven. Someone with unblemished integrity. Names please.
      • Nominate. (24/03/2018, 12:54) Like (1) Dislike (12) Reply
        Ms Dawn Smith. Highly educated, well travelled, vast experience and business acumen, groomed by Ms Emily Post herself, articulate and many more attributes and qualifications.
  • Tolalady (24/03/2018, 09:24) Like (17) Dislike (10) Reply
  • NativeSon (24/03/2018, 09:26) Like (20) Dislike (7) Reply
    If we ever needed proof that legislators will put their own selfish personal political ambitions ahead of the needs of the people of the country, we have it now...
  • Don’t get it (24/03/2018, 09:29) Like (19) Dislike (5) Reply
    I don’t get it. Are all the people causing fuss so worried they are going to lose their ‘extra money’ if they have to play by the rules? The BVI Gov’ts have yet to have a project come in on time and budget as they all ‘leak’ cash to someone. The U.K. is not stupid and doesn’t want members of govt to see recovery money as another slush fund. Those who shout loudest are not helping anyway in the BVI, they are protecting their self interest.
  • Don't be fooled (24/03/2018, 09:35) Like (17) Dislike (3) Reply
    Their insatiable greed got us here, DO NOT CONTINUE TO BE FOOLED!
  • Social Security (24/03/2018, 09:36) Like (30) Dislike (3) Reply
    The questions remain:
    1. Where is the 7 mil. from the phantom airline?
    2. Why no audited financials?
    You ask why the UK cannot trust where the money is going to go???? Have we demonstrated accountability? Now allyou want to date rape SSB???? What the hell will retirees have? Did allyou ask the people if we wanted SSB to give you money to pass out to your cronies? Complete waste. Just continue to fool the people. Hurricane season two months away and you boys still up to the same old tricks. Leave the people's social security alone. Let the people know what is really going on. The UK couldn't threaten like this unless they know what we don't know yet.
  • George Fahie (24/03/2018, 09:55) Like (5) Dislike (5) Reply
    Friends The Worst is yet to come! Beware of the Great House Slave Master and His Political friend...
  • Frazcar (24/03/2018, 09:59) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply
    "madam speaker the premier was blackmailed"
  • True (24/03/2018, 10:35) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    He said it himself, without evening knowing it as to why the UK doesn't trust the Premier as Finance Minister.

    The Premier was given a confidential document for his eyes only but now most have seen it, that in itself is a breach of trust and you want them to guarantee a loan of $400mil without safeguards put in place.
    • Democracy (24/03/2018, 11:47) Like (8) Dislike (16) Reply
      We entitled to have our own way. We are BVI STRONG. We not signing that. EVER. NEVER. NO WAY!!
  • Astonished (24/03/2018, 10:45) Like (25) Dislike (7) Reply
    The people are being misled by Skelton and his cronies. The UK will have to approve borrowing because of the existing protocols. The interest rate which will come via a UK guaranteed loan will be a lot lower than from anywhere else, if you can get a loan at all, given the UK's need to approve, and the Government's poor track record (under both parties) of carrying out large infrastructure projects. The idea that all the money will end up back in UK is nonsense: a) because the BVI will finally end up with some properly constructed infrastructure, fro which it should benefit economically because business and tourism will function much better; and b) local firms will be able to work as subcontractors, to a major contractor which hopefully will have significant experience of running a project on this scale, effectively. There is no contractor in the BVI that has this experience or training or sufficient well trained staff to be the main contractor, for a project of this magnitude. Also a key part of the main contractor's job will be plan the spec and supervise the implantation of the work by the sub contractors, wherever they are from. The main contractor will be monitored by the Reconstruction Agency. The other great thing about the UK loan is that it will protect the Social Security fund which is where peoples pensions will have to come from. It's no good saying we've borrowed from the social security fund before and paid it back; you haven't borrowed in the sums you will need to fix up the Territory, so you would be in charted water and risk losing the fund.
  • TolaSON (24/03/2018, 11:15) Like (11) Dislike (3) Reply
    What needs to burn are your bridges..sell out ! You made your money but don’t want the country to improve
  • Not2Sure (24/03/2018, 13:58) Like (4) Dislike (3) Reply
    Whenever NDP comes in for criticism, the standard response seem to who else we going elect.

    So you saying only these set of fools could run the BVI?
  • ta ta (24/03/2018, 14:10) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    Well deserved. The NDP are a bit of hypocrites!
  • cromwell (24/03/2018, 14:21) Like (22) Dislike (3) Reply
    I think minister Skelton needs to understand that respect has to be earned, not demanded, and, he of all people probably deserves little of it. The racist hatred continuously coming from his lips is a disgrace, and, an abuse of Parliamentary privledge, in the UK he would be forced to apologize to entire government. He calls himself British, but, I can tell you neither Britain or the Beitisn want any part of a person like him.
  • Ajic (24/03/2018, 15:36) Like (28) Dislike (0) Reply
    Is Mr. Skelton for real. Of course the UK don't trust you and your wasteful Government to handle the finances. I believe I speak for (90% of the people who reside in the BVI who also don't trust the present Government to do the right thing when given the money. I am all for the UK overseeing the spending of this money. Maybe this will be the first time in the history of the BVI we will finally get accountability for Government spending.
    • Two word man Ronnie (24/03/2018, 18:11) Like (15) Dislike (1) Reply
      Social Security. Social Security. Social Security. That's all he thinks of and that's all he says, that's the only solution he knows in time of trouble...Eat up our retirement bread... Start think boss. Find another way or vote for this thing..
    • @ajic agree 1000% (24/03/2018, 18:17) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
      Do the Bernie song for these fools.. Heartless, selfish power hungry millionaires.. Too rich to care about the poor..
  • Burn no Bridge (24/03/2018, 16:28) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    No Bridge should be burnt..Your bread is butter on both side with an omlet inside.. Poor people need help... In this life no one know the future..always be respectful to each other even in disagreement.. Burning bridges that you already cross to prevent other from crossing doesn't sound like a caring heart..
  • Len (24/03/2018, 16:49) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    @ Social Security, very well said. I hope that social security still have our $$$$ when we become eligible for our returns. The last thing i would want to hear is that Social Security Board is bankrupt. I was told by social security board that i cannot receive a payout and that i have to wait until i'm eligible.

    Kindly leave our savings along!!!
    • cromwell (25/03/2018, 09:51) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      Well, in the real world government pension and other type funds have to be audited and signed off as potentially solvent taking into account future funding of pension recipients. But, of course, the BVI don't audit anything so why do these governmental amertures think the UK is being unreasonable.
  • Don Corleone (24/03/2018, 17:35) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    This recovery bill is exactly what the bvi needs because for too long those who lead us have been helping themselves to our money without our permission
  • Thank U UK. (24/03/2018, 18:23) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    For offering to help us its much appreciated. You did your part. Now its our own that will forsake us.
  • Me (24/03/2018, 21:06) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Boss leave Social Security out of this. You all see money there and want your hand on it! This is a fund invested for retirement of your people. Please leave it alone! Begging
  • The TRUTH (25/03/2018, 03:48) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Panama Papers and blacklisting couldn't cut it... geo engineered Irma is what it took to bring down BVI 2.5 trillion dollar Foreign Direct Investment 2% of global GDP Financial Services Industry. We're into a global financial meltdown
    The New World order is in crisis. Check BVI loan guarantee conditions from a different perspective.... things ain't cool anymore.
    • Yes (25/03/2018, 09:58) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
      So even if your little theory is true now what? We sit and suffer because the NWO white people created a hurricane and sent it to destroy us? Thats it? The question here is how do we fund our recovery which has been delayed for too long and thats what you came up with? WTF?
      • Ukgohome!! (26/03/2018, 15:09) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
        You see, our ancestors are speaking to some of us and we are hearing and paying attention. The NWO white people did create a hurricane to destroy our people and our economy. Our houses could withstand a category 4, but when they made it a category 7 with them raging seas, they did us in. Then coming them long strawnie-self with body bags to pick us up. Wake up, Virgin Islanders. We may have to step back, but we need to leave them Edomites alone. You could disregard this, but this is the NWO weapons of destruction -- the weather weapons. Stop believing but Act of God did this to us. Next when we tell England 'kiss where the sun don't shine" they will try to put another thing on us, but don't underestimate the power that guided our forefathers in the past. They tried everything to kill us and they didn't succeed, but we shall rise again. We shall rise. Melanin shall never die.
  • I AM KILLMONGER (25/03/2018, 06:36) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Well Honourable when under one of these Government civil service cants THIEF public money. Got a tiny slap on the wrist and today YOU ALL celebrate them like successful business men. And they BLACK LOCALS to booth you think them BRITISH VIRUSES going let us control 400 million?! So more befriend could steal and become Uber rich?! Naw son not going happen unless they control it.
  • VIslander (25/03/2018, 06:40) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ronnie you still not going to be chief we voting you out
  • cromwell (25/03/2018, 09:55) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    From what we are seeing it appears that a considerable number of local voters would prefer to see the UK come in and replace the local governmental system. perhaps a referendum might make sense.
  • de silent one (25/03/2018, 11:57) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    It's so unfortunate Hon. Skelton, that the UK Government have to put such restriction on how the monies would be spent once accepted. Our local Government has failed us miserably with all those incomplete projects and seemingly no transparency as it relates to tax payers monies. Please support the acceptance of the monies so that this country can get back up and running again.
  • Really (26/03/2018, 14:45) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Many of these politicians are trying to make it look like they make some big sacrifice while in fact they have not but they trying to leave a legacy for the future generation to make it look like they did good.
  • Takeover? (26/03/2018, 15:14) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Shut your tail with that piss buh local voters want UK come in here. Only people who read Rumelstiltskin and Mother Goose wants that. We who read 'Black Sambo" want our kingdom back. The British, please...them wearing the jewelry they stole from South Africa and South America and thinking they are still entitled to rule us more. Run fast from the British; run and uphold the dream of our ancestors -- "my children, hold on to that land. If they get your land, they will get you again. Let not our sweat, toil, blood and disgrace be for naught. I am counting on you my children of the Virgin Islands.." Yes, ancestors; we are hearing; the time of the revolution is coming."
  • Londongbridge (26/03/2018, 15:17) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Burn down that London Bridge again and let's paddle our own canoe. Send all of them back to England to those 300 year old creaky houses all joined up together. Them come here jealousing them people of their ancestral birthright. British, go home!!

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