Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Billion-dollar budget barely keeps BVI’s lights on - Deputy Premier

Billion-dollar budget barely keeps BVI’s lights on - Deputy Premier

Despite claims that the BVI has benefited from a massive billion-dollar budget with each successive government, Deputy Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has contended that this amount is insufficient.

Dr Wheatley made that assertion amid suggestions that BVI governments have largely squandered this budget over the years.

Speaking on Virgin Islands Party’s ‘Let’s Talk’ radio programme recently, he argued that the government’s annual budget now needs to be ‘expanded’.

“The same $1 billion that they’re talking about in three, four years [that each administration is in office], that cannot run the BVI,” he stated. “We need to turn that $1 billion into $2 billion.”

He said this was the main reason behind the government’s attempts at diversifying the economy and for exploring new revenue initiatives.

“Don’t be fooled by what you’re hearing, $1 billion is not a lot of money in the Virgin Islands. It’s a small amount of money,” the Deputy Premier argued. “It can barely keep the lights on.”

The first-term legislator said much more persons have been working for government than in earlier years, forcing its expenditure to be stretched.

Most of budget pays public workers

Dr Wheatley said he estimated that nearly 80 percent of the territory’s budget goes to the payment of salaries in the public service.

He further argued that no public servants lost their job in the midst of a horrible global pandemic, despite revenues being down for the territory and the inactivity in the tourism sector.

Dr Wheatley also praised the government for being able to pay increments to public servants during this time and said the government is also required to pay huge subventions to statutory bodies as well.

Works Minister Kye Rymer also attempted to diffuse the notion that the budget wasn’t being spent appropriately.

“We have it out there being said that since this administration took place, we have expended over or nearly $1 billion and they can’t see where that money is going,” Rymer said.

He explained that there were many areas that the budget was spent on, particularly in areas such as recurrent expenditure, emoluments, pensions and operational costs among others.


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