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Opposition proposes gov’t borrows to tackle infrastructure, slow economy & crime

Leader of the Opposition in the Virgin Islands (VI) House of Assembly (HoA), Hon Ronnie W. Skelton (AL) on behalf of the members of the Opposition has proposed the government and opposition work together to find ways to address economic and other challenges affecting the people of the Virgin Islands, including borrowing money to fix infrastructure. Photo: Youtube
Touching on crime, he said the opposition is extremely concerned while updating that members met with Police Commissioner Marc Collins and his assistant on the matter. Photo: VINO/File
Touching on crime, he said the opposition is extremely concerned while updating that members met with Police Commissioner Marc Collins and his assistant on the matter. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), 2nd from left, speaking at the contract signing for the rehabilitation of the roadway from Hodges Creek Marina to Paraquita Bay on October 24, 2023, said government has plans to borrow, including to be able to solve the age-old challenges that the Territory has in relation to road infrastructure. Photo: GIS
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), 2nd from left, speaking at the contract signing for the rehabilitation of the roadway from Hodges Creek Marina to Paraquita Bay on October 24, 2023, said government has plans to borrow, including to be able to solve the age-old challenges that the Territory has in relation to road infrastructure. Photo: GIS
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI– Leader of the Opposition Hon Ronnie W. Skelton (AL), on behalf of the Members of the Opposition, has proposed the Government and Opposition work together to find ways to address economic and other challenges affecting the people of the Virgin Islands, including borrowing money to fix infrastructure.

Mr Skelton made the calls during a special Opposition press conference held at the Office of the House of Assembly (HoA) Conference Room on Thursday, October 26, 2023.

“We are extremely concerned at the level of crime that is presently in the country. We are also concerned about the infrastructure of the country: Healthcare, water, electricity, roads and ports. The economy is also sluggish and we need to be able to jumpstart the economy so that jobs can be created,” he said.

Hon Skelton added, “We are encouraging the government and I am not here to bash the government… I am here to lend my voice and my support to programmes and policies that the government is willing to implement to advance the cause of this country. We are encouraging the government to go out there and borrow the level of funding that is required to fix the infrastructure of this country,” he said.

The Opposition Leader added that members in the districts continue to complain about water woes, where water still can't get to homes, including in Virgin Gorda, referred to as the hub of tourism in the VI.

Hon Skelton also said he understands fixing infrastructural problems is not a quick fix unless there is military-level funding where issues can be solved overnight.

Crime an issue - Hon Skelton 

Touching on crime, he said the Opposition is extremely concerned and has met with Police Commissioner Mark Collins on the matter.

“And I think he [Collins] was upfront and honest with us and we in turn pledge to lend or support, where it is necessary, to get the resources he needs in order to fight crime,” Hon Skelton said while quoting murder rates and a spate of recent burglaries.

“And I do listen to my colleagues here at the table… That it just stems from the lack of job opportunities in your country, some of it, not all of it. It is important for us to start finding ways when our economy is sluggish, the private sector is not moving, for the government… to get people back to work at [getting] the economy moving.”

Hon Skelton said there's no doubt in his mind that people are hurting and the cost of living is high, “as an Opposition and the Government we need to find means and ways to assist the people who need food [and] needs assistance with house rent,” he said.

'You will hear more about our plans to borrow' Premier

Meanwhile, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) speaking at the contract signing for the rehabilitation of the roadway from Hodges Creek Marina to Paraquita Bay on October 24, 2023, said the government has plans to borrow, including to be able to solve the age-old challenges that the Territory has in relation to road infrastructure.

“As the budget speech is coming up, you will hear more about our plans to borrow so that we can provide the public with the roads that they deserve,” Dr Wheatley stated.

31 Responses to “Opposition proposes gov’t borrows to tackle infrastructure, slow economy & crime”

  • Mather (26/10/2023, 11:34) Like (25) Dislike (9) Reply
    Opposition is a joke they weak and lots of confusion members don’t even have confidence in Ronnie
    • @mather (26/10/2023, 12:45) Like (11) Dislike (5) Reply
      Was thinking the same, the samething
    • WOW (27/10/2023, 05:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      When you mess with culture this is the result, that new system about pretty contracts, bush cutting and small guts cleaning for the so call small man, along with how expensive cost of living, results in crime rise. Our soft panalties for crimes is not a detourant!
  • Well (26/10/2023, 12:03) Like (22) Dislike (4) Reply
    A small small little island like this and we can’t hold up on our own but screaming for independence?
  • RealPol (26/10/2023, 12:24) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    The voters elected members of the HOA to represent them and the interest of the Virgin Islands. I’m confident that both members of Opposition and Government share the same goals and positive outcomes for the territory both will and may different means, modes, policies, etc to attain the goals. Policies will be robustly and honestly debated in HOA. Debate completed, a vote will held and more than likely passed. At this point, both Opposition and Government should be supportive of the policy, law, etc.

    The VI has myriad of physical infrastructure, health, education, economic, among other needs. The physical infrastructure is in a deplorable and deteriorated state but government lacks the money/funds to fund the capital projects needed to address the needs. Consequently, government must prudently borrow to fund the projects. In another commentary about $2.3M road project from Paraquita Bay to Hodges Creek, another blogger (E. Leonard) commented, that residents increasingly demand more services but demonstrate a disdain for paying additional taxes or fees for providing and delivering the services. And also suggest the need to borrow. Well, I too endorse this view. The territory does not have the cash on hand/in reserve to directly fund these urgent and important needs and must prudently borrow to fund them. No taxpayer enjoy paying taxes or fees. Nevertheless, borrowing is needed to fund these needed public goods. Our elected officials must make the case to residents why borrowing, how much, mode of paying back principal and interest, and any proposed increase taxes or fees, if needed, is needed.
    • @ RealPol (26/10/2023, 13:29) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ RealPol, as always, you are reasoned, steady, and on point. It is fanciful thinking that we acquire First World physical infrastructure and other needs without borrowing and increasing taxes or fees. Government can propose funding infrastructure without increasing taxes. Nevertheless, in will to de drastically cut some programme(s). Which programme or programs do we want to cut? Clearly, as a territory, we are not understanding how government is funded; government is funded primarily through taxes and fees. The BVI does not have any natural resources it can mine and sell to fund its needs, ie, oil, minerals, precious metals, etc. Financial services is government primary revenue source ( ~60%). Government can look for opportunities within the financial services industry to enhance revenue but we must be careful about cutting off our nose to spite our face. We do have sand, sea and sun as a resource but that is plentiful in the region and elsewhere. We need sober in our approach.
      • Spititout (27/10/2023, 10:15) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Do we take notice of others' track récords before we agree with them ?
        Here we need a couple of millions of doblarse for our Roads to be drivable, we need more for our WATER worship, our Health system, Educational, and just about every other damn thing, but look what we want to do, extend air Port, puso up the Ferry Terminals ,and not regulares our s/s and our ni which that one doctor dnu kill...
        Well what about the Jose' Hill House project? Money there waiting to Rotten down.., they going fin rodas then these Bridges going callapse on us and we cant go or come.. Finally we are so close to the Sea, yet we are flooded if two or there persons decide to piss anyywhere at the SAME time.But we got money to parte and supporting friends who want to spread..
        How come we hear nothing about all this Drugs monies we confiscate ? Needless ask about the drugs itself. And now we going the Police Vehicles again, to destruye without incidents and without any responsibility.
  • No, no, no (26/10/2023, 12:36) Like (19) Dislike (0) Reply
    Do not borrow any money until we can hold these people accountable or we get new folks we can hold accountable. They are still finding ways to siphon monies off overinflated projects. This is not the answer for a time like this.
  • 2023 (26/10/2023, 12:50) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    home land have become so fascinated: these 6 fellows could not form the Government….
  • Not The Time To Borrow (26/10/2023, 13:07) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is not the time to borrow as the global economy is in crisis. The BVI depends on two fragile industries in this respect and may well find itself facing a diminished revenue stream an inflated operating budget and serious loan obligations. The prudent move at this time should be to do a cost cutting exercise and utilize the savings to tackle urgent projects like roads, education and welfare. The global economy is expected to worsen as conflicts and other negative events shake the world. Now is the time for serious leadership that demands an end to willy nilly spending and value for money.
  • HMMM (26/10/2023, 13:12) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Non-Stop concert
  • What I heard was... (26/10/2023, 13:13) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
  • Native Senior Citizen of the British Virgin Islands (26/10/2023, 13:27) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Democracy is a system that was designed to included a governing team, and an opposition counterbalance team for the wellbeing of all a country citizens, when the appointed ministers have the people of the country good at heart.

    It is true that the present ruling team, and the opposition both do not have our Country citizens best interest at heart, as far as past evidence showed. But due to the weakness of the ruling Party policies, I do agree with the opposition leader outreach to the government in power for teamwork.
    We may try by means of subtleness to downplay the urgent need for urgent, and proper infrastructure development, but it is in fact should be seen an urgent need.

    Many of us natives, and residents are as so drugged by party affiliation, that we see, yet not recognizing the urgent need for a total need for our country's cleanup of wrecked vehicles, and gabbage scattered here, and there. This must be one of our top priority in conjunction with our needed infrastructural development.

    Where for or against, the leader of the opposition, Hon Ronnie Skelton proposal to our sitting Premier is one of urgent necessity.
    He, the Hon. Ronnie Skelton has his weaknesses, as do us all. But as far as business as we know it is concern, he is among the top five, if not the top local businessman. The proof speaks for itself. What done is already done. What is in need to be done when it need to be done. We should we should stop wasting our needed finances things we don't need. if we do so now, we will be in position to begin upgrading our infrastructural development for the Spiritual, physical needs, and the need of Al people's that come to visit our country, namely: The British Virgin Islands.

    May God our Creator continue blessing us daily.

  • Disinterested (26/10/2023, 13:42) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    The Opposition is government in waiting, the alternative government, who held a BIG press conference and bellowed there was problem with the infrastructure, crime, etc, and tge country needs to borrow money to fund its needs. What are the Opposition specific proposals, funding needs, projects etc, to address the problem? The Opposition cannot just say there is a problem with no solutions. That is just poppy show, show. This is the same Opposition who had the government forming bird in its let flew away, missing the old adage that a bird in hand is worth thousands in the bush, never counting the chicken before they are hatched. A costly and painful political lesson. A huge opportunity, implicit cost because of greed, selfishness, etc.
  • BOTTOM LINE (26/10/2023, 13:42) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    Tell Lorna stop issuing new unnecessary work permits.
  • 1eye (26/10/2023, 13:46) Like (11) Dislike (5) Reply
    Not impressed with the opposition, Ronnie needs speech classes, frazer is back in the 60s with his ideas, Mitch and Smurf can’t be trusted and Myron is about self his own agenda as he cares little about people. Poor Mather still don’t have a grasp of what is happening and remember they were the same crew who could not even form a government because of egos and power hungry politicians!!!
  • 2023 (26/10/2023, 14:19) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    once elections done: the 13 we voted into public office must work with one another and take our territory forward]there should be no opposing just to old talk…..poor political leadership continues to cause division and lost of love in this place: Buckingham left in 1834 and from then our people toil long & hard- my goodness 2023 Buckingham is back home and it’s due to politics some of them keep knowing down the Governor Office Door

  • tax (26/10/2023, 14:37) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
    Tax the big companies that are building multimillion dollar homes tax free and running their own country in ours.
  • Weak opposition. (26/10/2023, 15:19) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
    They allowing this brainless useless govt to get away with crime against its people.. They screw up big time by refusing the 300 mil guaranteed loan with low interest. They all sat there like uneducated kids and allow Foy to dictate to them and for the country now they trying to get loan with high interest. How could this make sense to add no bank wants to give them no more than 40 mil at a time. Then they want to Ruff up Cindy and Zan for asking good questions. Ronnie is so disappointing he is done will never vote for him again. Lorna made the right decision. Keep their hands and eyes off of our retirement money. Useless people.
    • taxpayer (26/10/2023, 17:31) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
      I agree with you. We were offered a loan at good rates to help rebuild the infrastructure after Irma and turned it down because our crooked government did not want anyone looking at how our government manages money.
      We were offered British navy ships to help stop drug and human trafficking and turned that down.
      Our government is the route of our problems and we know it.
  • Know your numbers (26/10/2023, 16:04) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    How many people BVIslanders / Belongers are unemployed / underemployed and actively job seeking? No-one has any idea at all but the politicians will tell you that the down-islanders / whiteys /Filipinos are taking the jobs.

    How many work permit applications pending? How long is the processing time? How many declined and for what reasons? Again no-one can tell you.

    What skill shortages are there amongst BVIslanders / Belonger to fill those work permit positions? What steps are being taken to ensure our educators are offering appropriate training to fill those skill shortages? No-one knows, no-one thought to check.

    How many trade licenses pending? How long is the processing time? How many declined and for what reasons? Again no-one can tell you!

    What analysis has been undertaken to assess the net benefit of the migrant workers to the BVI Economy? No idea, no-one checked, no-one can tell you!

    What can government do to reduce its operating costs and slim down the civil service? What benefits could digitalisation and e-service could bring to the economy in terms of efficiency? No-one thought to check , no-one knows.

    This is the problem in BVI, nothing is based on objective evidence at all. The place is a joke. Most of these politicians couldn't run a lemonade stall let alone a country.

    We have serious issues here and many are actually not too tricky to solve (see for example, use of renewable energy, waste management and recycling) but we go backwards not forward, whilst the rhetoric about those nasty non-Belongers, the nasty colonialists continues to increase.

    In my next life, I'd like to come back of head of the Statistics department for the BVI government, must be the easiest job in the world.

  • Dancing with the Stars (26/10/2023, 18:25) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    There was a prayer that was taught to us when we were younger, and I refer to this prayer as a result of the statement by the District six Representative about the state of the economy. The said member was in the N.D.P party government for many years and was once the chairman of the Tourist Board and no Tourism development plan was in place. Now he is criticizing the government for not having a plan. Maybe he is another Rick Van Winkle. In order for the government to provide all the needs of the Territory, there must be a large injection of finance or increase in taxation. Also, many of the unemployed persons need to go out there and seek employment and stop depending on the government for their survival.
  • teacher john (26/10/2023, 19:16) Like (0) Dislike (6) Reply
    I am sick of hearing Mr doom and gloom Myron Walwyn. It’s sad that the vip has not reminded him of how he made a mess of the education system from 2011 to 2019 after that the voters got rid of him.

    Now he back chatting piss like we forgot his record and his corruption over the high school wall. The first political scandal where a politician is charged for breach of trust
  • Undercover Observer (26/10/2023, 19:47) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    There is a dearth of governing experience in government and in the HoA. The HoA is filled with too many Peter Principles, Cowboys/Cowgirls, Toxic members, Retired in Place members, etc. The governing structure ie, government, Mount Olympus and Opposition has miserably failed. Past political leaders did a poor job in preparing the next generation of politicians to govern the territory. Succession planning was either non-existent or failed altogether. Consequently, there are a number of inexperienced people who won a popularity are assigned to management positions. Assigning non-managers to leadership and management is an unmitigated disaster. The system, the structure has failed. The shared governing arrangement between local government and Mount Olympus is as F’ked as Hogan’s goat. Mount Olympus is non-elected and is unaccountable to the people it is supposed to represent. It is an oxymoronic to say that Mount Olympus represents VI people. Clearly, Mount Olympus agenda is to employ the colonialism vicious circle in the BVI. The BVI is heading into several societies, ie, local, others, and Mount Olympus. Nevertheless, the golden rule is he who has the unilateral power makes the rule and is accountable only to himself. Enough of that issue, for things are the way they are because the Sambos want things this way.

    Nevertheless, governing SNAFU not withstanding, the BVI has a myriad of critical needs but lack the funds to get them done. Most governments typically have two funding sources,, ie, taxes and fees, and debt. The level of government revenues from taxes and fees are insufficient to meet O&M requirements much less capital projects needs. The apparent option is borrowing but the idea seems to landing fiat. If government cannot borrow, economic growth and development will be retarded, the BVI stays a Third World and little sleet hollow. Some of us are of the belief that government has a money tree at the back of the R. T . Oneal Admin Bldg, get/.wants things done but others expense, etc. Here is a news flash the BVI does not have a fairy Godmother. I would say though that Ministries, Departments, Divisions, Branches, etc must strive to attain positive outcomes within budget limits by maximizing budget efficiency. No one is going to have all resources to do everything. Adjust to the new normal of doing more with fewer resources. Can we strive to do that. The Premier and MoF must lead that charge. People should be recognize for attaining positive outcomes with assigned budget.
  • Irony (27/10/2023, 07:34) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply

    Mitch was one of the loudest against the loan guarantee but is now complaining about money needed for his district. What a set of %^&* idiots. Nothing is free, everything requires funding.

  • The Nation (27/10/2023, 07:56) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    A borrower is slave to his lender. This is why the opposition is not leadkng this country...everything for ndp1 and ndp2 is borrow borrow. While the culture of the old folks is to mske do with what you have a build on it. Look at all those countries that have 'borrowed for development' and see what the IMF and all these other financial institutions have done. Premier make do with what we have.
  • Smithy (27/10/2023, 09:01) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    @Undercover Observer, great blog/commentary. The BVI is a low tax jurisdiction relative to other locales so there is natural resistance to raising tax. One factor in this resistance to tax is the perceived mistrust of government management of financial resources. There is a belief that is not effective and efficient in spending. The government must work to get past its spending inefficiency inertia. Virgin Islanders must face the reality. If it wants progress, it must recognize that the government needs to borrow to meet its capital project and other needs. I don’t like paying taxes but I’m willing my fair and commensurate share to promote progress. Nonetheless, I call on government to review its spending trends and habits. It must strive to maximize its budget efficiency.
  • ... (27/10/2023, 09:51) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The simple solution is to let the people have opportunities to get cash.

    Get cash from outside or produce items for visitor consumption.

    If there was say a government run casino & amenities, personal attendant/host role for men & women. Part time basis, training, easy access... would persons rather sell stuff men & women that can get them in trouble for a quick buck or head to the casino or whatever "get cash" industries the government backs, trained them for, & guides tourist towards.

    Start up the cannabis legalization, do it right similar to no fast food with more service. Attract more tourism, do more training and allow easy access to cash from outside visitors.

  • Yael (27/10/2023, 11:58) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    People trying to spend money in BVI buying property and trying to build but the red tape and government delays make it maddening.
  • TALK TALK TALK (28/10/2023, 12:39) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Typical opposition parties. Make PR announcements and then do nothing.

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