The authenticity of the documents cannot be independently verified by BVI Platinum News at this time, but several pages have been in circulation via social media with some of the names listed drawing searching questions from residents.
Hon. Fahie, Premier and Minister for Finance, confirmed today, May 12 that the Government has been made aware of a list circulating with information apparently including fisherfolks and farmers' names and amounts received for Covid-19 Fishing and Farming Stimulus initiative.
The Premier did not confirm the authenticity of the lists nor the names that have been released publicly.
"The authenticity of this list is being examined as discrepancies have already been identified by the requisite authorities, which raises a major red flag. Upon completion of the review of this entire matter, further information will be made available," Premier Fahie stated.
Premier Fahie added that his administration continues to assist numerous persons and businesses during this ongoing global pandemic in "a transparent and prudent manner that will withstand the test of time."
In the meantime, the lists depict well-known names in the territory, including some names believed to be neither farmers nor fisherfolk.
The majority of the financial amounts issued on the 'fishermen stimulus' list were $9,000, and there were roughly 10 names that had $20,000 amounts attached to it.
On the two lists labelled 'farmers', the amounts are much larger, with the majority being $13,500 and the highest amount being $22,500.
Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr. Natalio D. Wheatley announced on March 20, 2020 that a sum of $2 million dollars was allocated to farmers and fisher folk to purchase much needed supplies for business continuity.
The ongoing United Kingdom (UK) Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into Government corruption has plans to probe the COVID-19 stimulus package.
The UK has openly stated that there are wide concerns over the lack of transparency when it comes to spending public funds, particularly those relating to COVID-19 economic stimulus support.
The Premier has stated that the Government is seeking assurances that documents provided to the CoI relating to persons who seek Government assistance would remain private and confidential.
These documents would include the stimulus grants and financial assistance.
On May 28, 2020 Premier Fahie rolled out government’s economic stimulus to help cushion the effects of COVID-19. The plan totaled some $60M, of which $40M came in the form of a grant from the Social Security Board (SSB).
Premier Fahie went on the defence of how the monies are being distributed, indicating that there was a rigorous transparent and accountable process.
“These funds were to be administered through systems as approved by Cabinet and the Social Security Board. The government is required to provide regular reports to the social security board on how the funds were used and to be audited weekly by the internal auditor,” he explained at the Cappoons Bay Recreational Grounds on January 30.
He said SSB provided the extra layer of accountability in the economic stimulus grant.
The Finance Minister also disclosed that as the impact of COVID-19 became clearer, SSB allowed the government to make some adjustments to the allocations to various areas that were initially announced publicly. However, he made it clear that there were no changes in the overall sum of the grant and supervision of the funds.