Territorial At-Large Representative Neville ‘Sheep’ Smith has said the 2023 budget for the BVI does not have any plans or measures that will have any significant impact on the lives of ordinary people.
Smith gave his opinion while making his contribution to the budget debate in the House of Assembly on December 20.
“I don’t think there is enough in there (budget) for the people. I’m not saying we haven’t done anything but to me there’s nothing in there that will really touch the life of the people. We have to find ways to assist the people who are in need,” Smith stated emphatically.
He said the government needs to find ways to empower representatives to help residents as this is the reason they were elected. And while admitting that his hands are often “tied” as an elected leader, Smith said he is often unable to help people in need because of the current measures in place.
As an example, Smith said the Public Works Department refuses to repair some retaining walls on private property even though residents have asked for help. He said the government should fix these walls although they are on private property because private residents are still taxpayers.
“These people pay tax. So we have to find some ways to help the people. It just has to be accountable, transparent so everybody can see what is being done. But for somebody to come and ask for help and I have to say ‘I cannot help you’, I don’t want to do that. I don’t believe that’s how it should be as a representative of the people of the Virgin Islands
,” Smith stated.
Smith is not the only leader who has bemoaned the difficulty leaders face when trying to assist residents. In recent times, other elected representatives have expressed that the good governance measures that are now being implemented in government have made it difficult for leaders to access much needed funds to assist their constituents.