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‘We will voice numerous concerns about Agency’- Hon Christopher

-as Backbenchers having none of Premier Smith’s spin
Fifth District Representative and Deputy Speaker Hon Delores Christopher, left, has made it clear she has many concerns about the Recovery and Development Agency being pushed by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), right. Photo: VINO/Youtube
Junior Minister for Tourism Honourable Archibald C. Christian (AL) also noted that he has concerns with the Recovery and Development Agency. Photo: Youtube
Junior Minister for Tourism Honourable Archibald C. Christian (AL) also noted that he has concerns with the Recovery and Development Agency. Photo: Youtube
During the Budget Address at the Second Sitting of the Third Session of the Third House of Assembly (HoA) of the Virgin Islands on Monday March 19, 2018, Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), Premier and Minister of Finance, took a jab at the skeptics of the Recovery and Development Agency. Photo: VINO
During the Budget Address at the Second Sitting of the Third Session of the Third House of Assembly (HoA) of the Virgin Islands on Monday March 19, 2018, Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), Premier and Minister of Finance, took a jab at the skeptics of the Recovery and Development Agency. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It is no secret that, like the public at large, the Backbenchers of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government have major concerns about the Recovery and Development Agency that will be put in place by law to manage loans received for the Territory’s recovery and development following the devastating hurricanes of September 2017.

Some of the concerns have been that the United Kingdom (UK) Government does not trust the NDP Government to manage the monies to be borrowed, hence the UK mandated independent Agency; that the Agency will infringe on the Constitution of the Virgin Islands since it will bypass the Minister of Finance in determining how monies to be repaid by taxpayers will be spent and that the Agency and its formation have been kept secret, even from elected members of Government.

During his Budget Address on March 19, 2018, at the continuation of the Second Sitting of the Third Session of the Third House of Assembly, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) again sought to sell the idea of the Recovery and Development Agency.

According to the Premier, his Government is constrained to deliver a complex suite of interventions to restore and progress the VI beyond its pre-recovery status quo in order to protect its people and future generations for decades to come.

“These interventions go beyond our resources and so even as we welcome the UK guarantee and the significant amount of monies available through donations from the international community, we must put in place a structure for the management of these funds that would assure, first the people of our Community that the Guarantor, the UK and importantly the international donor community and your Legislators that these monies will be used for the purposes intended and approved by this House of Assembly and will uphold the principles of fairness transparency and efficiency at all costs. The mechanism which has been proven globally to do this in the best manner is an independent Recovery and Development Agency.”

Misinformation!

Premier Smith then lashed out at critics of the UK Framework for the BVI Recovery Plan, which includes the formation of the Recovery and Development Agency, stating that his Government has forged ahead “despite the misinformation that has been conjured up to prevent its formation.“

According to him, to act otherwise would be to “compromise the current way of life we all enjoy including that of the very people who oppose, but even more importantly, we must improve the lives of the people of the BVI who depend on us to do right by them. Madam Speaker, on this issue I must stand, as an experienced political leader on a matter of principle, for all the citizens and residents of the BVI now and generations yet unborn.”

Unhelpful chatter

Premier Smith had also said there was a lot of “unhelpful chatter” in circulation about the Agency being a Government within a Government; which he described as patently false.

“Madam Speaker, it is difficult to understand the basis of this noise. Firstly, the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands must approve the Agency and set its terms of reference and modus operandi. Secondly, we as members of the House of Assembly will create the necessary legislation to establish the Agency to serve the people. Thirdly, we as members of the House of Assembly will set the framework within which the Agency operates. Fourthly, we the House of Assembly will give the Agency its vision, strategy and plan; and fifthly, the Agency is accountable to this House. In short Madam Speaker; it is ours!”

Backbenchers will not be silent

Dr Smith’s spin did not necessarily sound like music to some of the Backbenchers, who have already shown their dissatisfaction with the current leadership of the NDP Government, and are set to be very vocal on the matter when they are given a chance to express themselves in the House of Assembly.

“And I am already preparing, especially as it pertains to the Agency…He [Premier] tried to put it over quite smoothly as he can but we have a lot of concerns about it,” stated Fifth District Representative and Deputy Speaker Hon Delores Christopher while speaking to reporters following the Budget Address.

‘We have numerous concerns’- Hon Christopher

This news site had also previously reported that even members of the NDP Government were left in the dark about the UK Framework for the BVI Recovery Plan and the formation of the Recovery and Development Agency and this was confirmed by Hon Christopher on March 19, 2018.

“Something was said about it being ours, we crafted it kind of story. As I know we are not finished with it. It isn’t anything we had an input in from the beginning but we are going through it and we have numerous questions and we will voice our numerous concerns. As a matter of fact, we intend to file some with him, so I am sure you will hear much more about it,” Hon Christopher assured.

Another Backbencher, the Junior Minister for Tourism, Honourable Archibald C. Christian (AL), also noted that he had concerns, especially about the Agency.

“I think one of the things people will be concerned about, which will come out in the debate and obviously down the road, is exactly how the recovery and how the development process will take place, as it relates to the agency and the functions of the Agency.

“I think once we as the legislators are satisfied that the Agency works based on the constitution as it relates to the elected members, in particular the Ministers of Government, we shouldn’t have any problems,” Hon Christian stated.

19 Responses to “‘We will voice numerous concerns about Agency’- Hon Christopher”

  • Democracy (20/03/2018, 10:47) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
    at work. Time for BackBenchers to speak their minds and not just go along to get along. Better late than never. Our country needs "robust" debates on these issues before the hand basket becomes too full. In full support of you'll concerns.
  • 123 (20/03/2018, 10:52) Like (87) Dislike (3) Reply
    voted out dr smith
  • good (20/03/2018, 11:22) Like (23) Dislike (0) Reply
    I don't know why people are calling this infighting. This is exactly what we should want, we want them asking questions even if they're on the same team. We should be feeling good that elected officials appear to be genuinely concerned about how we have dealt with affairs and want to make sure we are moving on the right track forward. Everyone should have their voices heard and then we chart a course forward where everyone benefits. The only upsetting thing is why wasn't this information put out sooner. I always got the impression that the backbenchers were against the agency when they're not. They just want to make sure the agency isn't a separate body unto themselves and become a quasi govt which is understandable.
    • Another Chance (20/03/2018, 13:00) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
      The Agency is a good thing. We cant have it both ways. We cant be complaining about not getting valu for money. Or non transparency. Now things are put in place to correct and ensure we get these things. We still complaining..
  • LOL (20/03/2018, 12:02) Like (2) Dislike (6) Reply
    Watch two of them wont even get back in deas horses
    • Gone and over (20/03/2018, 13:04) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
      Sorry to say but Those two are goners done and political life over.. They will regret for the rest of their life not taking the opportunity to take over and make a difference..
  • Hush (20/03/2018, 12:18) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    Not soo honourable Christopher.
  • facts (20/03/2018, 12:25) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    The BVI needs the UK's assistance.
    The BVI cannot trust the NDP.
    The Agency is to ensure accountability for any monies borrowed and backed by the UK.
    Do we want accountability or do we want more of the same?
    Say NO to putting hands in the Cookie Jar!
    • pat (20/03/2018, 23:16) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      letting the same ministers manage or be involved is doing the same thing over again, back bench or not. We need objective outsiders appointed with city planning experience, engineering, architects, environmentalists/ historians. there are many experts not in government who could contribute to managing monies and have a comprehensive re-building plan. And the members of the agency should be made public to make sure there is no conflict of interest or cronyism.
  • qc (20/03/2018, 12:42) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Interesting, and predictable, that everyone and everything close to this government is going down hill
  • ... (20/03/2018, 12:45) Like (11) Dislike (14) Reply
    What on earth is the people waiting for to vote out the NDP?
  • Divided Back Benchers (20/03/2018, 12:56) Like (1) Dislike (5) Reply
    If They were united they would be tunning things. They need to shut up and ho sit down and get their act together. They have all the power In Their hands to bring about change..They need to stop talking about the constitution. The constitution States that majority in Parliament is shall will farm the government. When is 5 more than 6...
  • Local (20/03/2018, 13:37) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    What are they afraid of

    They vex because the money lock down
  • reality (20/03/2018, 15:34) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    Too much dunce in HOA! Just because they don't understand something doesn't mean it's wrong. No amount of explanation about agency etc. will make them understand because they don't care to understand.
  • Diplomat (20/03/2018, 18:05) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    The BVI has to borrow money to rebuild; the UK is supporting £400M in loan guarantees as the co-sign. It is customary for lenders to set terms and conditions for borrowers. As the co-sign, if the VI defaults on the loan, the UK is on the hook for it. The UK has to protect the interest of its taxpayers; UK has its own issues, ie, BREXiT, slowing economy......etc. Additionally, fund lenders will also set their own terms and conditions.

    The problem with the Agency is the process lack of transparency, secrecy.......etc. If the public, elected members......etc were apprised and included in the plan of action and milestones, the heightened concerns would have been lsssened. Because it did not, government appears disingenuous, deceitful...etc. It may not be a fair tag but that apparently is the belief of many. This was a self inflicted flesh wound.

    The recovery plan is an urgency, not a dire emergency, so there was time for prior discussion. Though the government is empowered to make decisions on behalf of the people, some decisions should be discussed with the people for information sharing and buy in before acting. The recovery plan was one of those issues that should have been discussed with the populace. Going forward, government needs to ensure that the Agency is not operating as an entity outside of the purview of the HOA.
  • island man (20/03/2018, 21:34) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    To many cats in government and they to dawn thief so I agree with the UK. The power yacht is in Anguilla. Thief money again
  • Boo (21/03/2018, 06:54) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Debate and voice as many concerns as possible.. please do. Just finalize before April 1st and lets move on


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