Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

$15M from SSB’s $40M grant spent on economic stimulus

$15M from SSB’s $40M grant spent on economic stimulus

Some $15,241,839 was spent from the $40 million special grant that government received from the BVI Social Security Board (SSB) to fund the COVID-19 stimulus programme for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), farmers and fishermen, daycare/pre-schools, private schools, and religious organisations.

The leader of government business gave that indication during a press conference last Friday.

He said: “To date, 1,223 MSMEs received stimulus grants totalling $7,406,521. Some 220 farmers received stimulus grants totalling $3,121,500, and 213 fishermen and fisherwomen received stimulus grants totalling $2,222,000,” Fahie said.

“Grants totalling $530,359 were provided to 19 daycares/pre-schools. Some 109 churches and religious organisations received stimulus grants totalling $1,599,000; and 12 private schools received grants totalling $362,459,” the Premier added.

He did not specify what became of the remainder of the $40 million.

Action plan


Meanwhile, Fahie, who is the Minister of Finance, said there is an action plan in place to monitor and evaluate the various economic stimulus programmes. He noted it was done in three phases.

“Under the first phase, reporting and data collection is taking place. The Permanent Secretary, Premier’s Office has written to all grant recipients reminding them of their obligations to provide an account for the use of funds and to participate in surveys and other exercises for monitoring and evaluation,” he said.

“A feedback form for each initiative have been sent to each grant recipient, and they are reminded to complete the forms and submit them. Submission can be done in electronic format and via the internet,” the Finance Minister added.

Fahie said respondents are asked to provide details, with supporting documents such as receipts and photographs. Where applicable, proof of payments must also be provided for statutory obligations, utilities, equipment, rent, mortgage, creditors, suppliers and staff.

The Premier mentioned that recipients must provide a statement on how the stimulus grant assisted their business or organisation in coping with the economic fallout of COVD-19.

“Farmers and fisherfolk are required to submit details of their operations such as acreage farmed and crops, or catch, respectively,” Fahie noted.

He added that four bulletins have been circulated by the Government Information Services (GIS) between August 2021 and March 2022, reminding recipients of their obligations to report back to the government via the Premier’s Office on how they spent the grant funding.

“Additionally, the Premier’s Office has requested assistance from the Agriculture and Fisheries Department with conducting site visits to the farms and fisherfolk for inspection of their premises to verify the use of the stimulus grant funding they received,” the Premier said.

“The Premier’s Office has received several responses from stimulus grant recipients. As of March 28, 2022, a total of 195 grant recipients have now responded. SME grant recipients – 120 have responded; farmer grant recipients – 19 have responded; fishermen grant recipients – nine have responded; churches grant recipients – 33 have responded, and daycares/pre-schools grant recipients – 14 have responded,” Fahie explained further.

The Minister of Finance added that a team from the Premier’s Office along with Department of Agriculture and Fisheries staff will be conducting site visits to the farmers and fisherfolk within the next few weeks to begin onsite verifications.

“Additionally, the Premier’s Office has allocated staff resources to call recipients who have not yet provided any data to remind and prompt them to get their information in,” Fahie said.

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