The Minister of Finance “begging” the Financial Sec for money? - Hon. O’Neal
During the 2012 Standing Finance Committee (SFC) hearing when the Premier’s Office was testifying on their 2013 Budget allocation the issue of funding for the BVI Tourist Board was again discussed.
Representing the office of the Premier was the Permanent Secretary (PS) Mrs Rosalie Adams.
During the House of Assembly SFC the Minister for Education and Culture Honourable Myron V. Walwyn noted that $9.7 million was for the Tourist Board and enquired how it was going to work.
The PS explained that the $9.7 million for the Tourist Board is the initial amount that the Tourist Board, if approved, is presently able to utilise for the marketing and all the various activities of the Board. Mrs Adams added that if the Board is able to satisfy the Minister of Finance that additional funds are needed which they can justify and funds can be made available, then the Tourist Board would approach the Ministry and make a request.
However, Minister Walwyn told the SFC that the operating expenses for the Tourist Board is $8 million and it is clear that the Tourist Board is going to need more money. Mrs Adams admitted that the Minister for Education and Culture's statement was “true”.
Leader of the Opposition Hon. O'Neal commented that the programme he heard annunciated on Budget Day, and again being broadcast, signifies that the Minister for Tourism has an elaborate programme.
The former Minister of Finance added that he does not see how the Minister for Tourism was going to be, as it were, as Minister of Finance, “begging” the Financial Secretary for money.
Hon. O’Neal noted that the Minister for Tourism must be able to have some freedom, not overspending, but will obviously have to find cases where some Departments will have to give up some in order to push the tourism sector.
The Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith thanked the Leader of the Opposition for his comments during the hearing.
Over the last year the Dr. Smith Administration has came in for much criticism from the public and Opposition Members for claiming to be promoting the Tourism sector while at the same time not adequately funding the Board.
A couple of days ago, the Premier and Minister for Tourism announced that Mrs Sharon Flax-Mars was the new Director of Tourism. This was a story already reported by Virgin Islands News Online some three months prior.