With the 2020 Budget Speech promising a myriad of economic diversification projects such as gaming, medical marijuana, drag racing and financial technology in the Virgin Islands, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie says his speech was never about the figures, rather about the accompanying vision.
The Premier made these sentiments on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 when he sat down with 'Honestly Speaking' radio host Mr Claude O. Skelton-Cline on public Radio ZBVI 780 AM to speak on several plans that his government will be embarking on and to bring clarity on existing projects being implemented in 2020.
Promises not a 'Pie in the Sky' - Hon Fahie
'When people hear the Budget Speech, some say it was a pie in the sky. The Budget Speech was not about figures, it was about vision... a vision about of how do we move into the new BVI where we all have a stake in it,' Hon Fahie said.
According to the Premier, part of the reason certain aspect of the Budget Speech may seem unattainable is due to VI's historical economic generators.
"For our people now, seeing our economy mostly being financial services and [how] it has done us well, they have not been directly involved. So when they see certain things happening, they are unconcerned—some of them—and we have to make sure now everyone is concerned," he said.
Premier Fahie noted that getting the 2020 Budget passed in the same year as the earlier transitional budget was a heavy feat; however, he made it happen with the help of the Finance team despite critics going against the idea.
"When we were doing it I made a promise with my team that we will get the next budget passed in record time before 2020 begins, and I made a statement that we would get it passed by December 15th," he said.
Hon Fahie continued, "I always believe that once you set goals and you work hard towards them and they meet the favour of God, you will get them achieved."
VI was in Violation of Financial Management Act - Hon Fahie
And even while praising the accomplishment of passing two budgets 10 months apart, Premier Fahie lamented that when the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government took office in February 2019, the Territory was in violation of the 2012 Protocols for Effective Financial management (PEFM).
According to Hon Fahie, $26.9M had to be placed in the Reserve Fund to take the VI out of violation, "That was a challenge... to be putting that into the reserves at a time when people still needed their roofs repaired," he said.
The Leader of Government Business noted; however, that getting the 2020 Budget passed in record time and bringing the Territory up to date with the PEFM showed his government is serious about prudent financial management and getting on with the business of the people.