British Virgin Islands

Monday, Sep 20, 2021

Approval of Ministerial Political Advisors ‘adds salt to the wound’- Opposition Leader

Approval of Ministerial Political Advisors ‘adds salt to the wound’- Opposition Leader

In a lengthy press release, which has already been dubbed as hypocritical and a slap in the face of Virgin Islanders, Opposition Leader Honourable Marlon A. Penn (R8) who had chastised the Virgin Islands Government to hastily open up the borders and has since been silent during the COVID-19 explosion, has broken his silence to lambast the decision of Cabinet to approve the hiring of Ministerial Political Advisors.
$40 from SSB for economic stimulus was ‘wastage’


Honourable Penn also seized the opportunity to criticise the $40 million granted by Social Security Board towards the COVID-19 Stimulus Plan as “wastage” and alleging that there are over $12 million in unaccounted COVID-19 spending, “with nothing tangible to show.”

He said this can be equated to nothing less than poor financial management, inconsideration of the present and future wellbeing of this territory and its citizens, and a lack of sound leadership.

‘Salt to the wound’


“The recent approval for the hiring of Ministerial Political Advisers to the tune of over $1,080,000.00 annually in consultancy fees only adds salt to the wound,” Hon Penn stated.

According to Cabinet, the Premier would be assigned no more than three advisors and each other Cabinet Minister, and Junior Minister would be assigned no more than one advisor. It said the advisors would receive a contract that would not exceed $120,000, equivalent to $10,000 a month, “in accordance with the established pay bands.”

Hon Penn said the decision to hire advisors is “wrong” and “outrageous” and must not be accepted.

“We must stand united against this unconscionable decision being levied upon us. As the voice for the people of this Territory, Hon Premier and Members of Cabinet, we demand that you unequivocally and immediately rescind this callous and reckless decision!”

‘Advisors aligned with UK model’- Hon Fahie


Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) had said the decision to hire Ministerial Political Advisors was in alignment with the United Kingdom model and had been in the works for some time now since the various and ever-expanding ministries are lacking resources.

He also said the initiative was discussed with the Governor’s Office and Deputy Governor’s Office before it was taken to Cabinet.

Additionally, he said monies for the advisors, which would not reach a million dollars as is being purported, will be taken from “conservancies of Ministries” and will not "piggyback" on the public purse.

‘You were not sent to squander’- Hon Penn


According to Hon Penn; however, since 2019, several Cabinet decisions have lacked clarity, good reasoning, empathy for the current circumstances and consider neither their implications nor the consequences.

He also said the decision to hire Ministerial Political Advisors is not in the long-term best interest of the Territory “nor aligns with the will and wishes of our people.

“Need I remind each of our Ministers sitting in Cabinet, you were sent to govern yes, but you were not sent to squander the scarce resources of our country, as you have time and time again. Since it seems we are experiencing VIP Déjà vu, I will repeat, you were not sent to squander the scarce resources of our country – nor were you sent to line the pockets of your handpicked supporters, many of whom add little to no value to the management of our Territory.”

Hon Penn is the voice of reason?


While Hon Penn is sounding the horn against the alleged squandering of “scare resources”; however, many are now shocked that he now suddenly has a voice, as he had remained silent when his National Democratic Party (NDP) Government had given away $7.2M to an airline that was never able to deliver on its promise of direct flights from the United States to the Virgin Islands.

Additionally, Hon Penn had kept his mouth zipped when his NDP government took some $8M, which was intended for the East End Sewerage Project and would have benefitted his Eight District, and placed it into the Tortola Pier Park Project.

The redirection of funds was also deemed an “illegal move” as the Accountant General’s Report had shown that the records stated $8M of the loan was not paid to the government, rather, transferred directly to the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) with ‘no advance warrant’ in support of the transaction.

This meant that it was done without the knowledge of all legislators of the House of Assembly.

The now awakened Hon Penn also did not utter a word when there was some $40M overrun on the Tortola Pier Park Project.

He has somehow found the courage and lack of shame to now label the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government as having no conscience in their decision-making.

Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) had said the decision to hire Ministerial Political Advisors is in alignment with the United Kingdom model and had been in the works for some time now.

The residents of Long Look and East End have to contend with sewage on the streets to this day due to the then National Democratic Party (NDP) Government taking monies intended to help address the problem and redirecting it to the Tortola Pier Park Project. Representative for the Eighth District Hon Marlon A. Penn had said noting about the controversial and illegal decision by the government he was a part of.

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