Claims that the government only allotted $50,000 for fishing and farming in the territory’s budget have been rubbished by Premier and Minister of Finance, Andrew Fahie.
The Premier indicated that a layperson would see that figure if they look at the government’s 2022 budget in what he describes as its ‘raw form’.
“If you look in the budget — the raw part of the budget — you’ll probably only see about $50,000 or something like that. And so if persons don’t know how to read the budget or they were absent from budget sessions, they would say only $50,000 is in the budget for fishing and farming,” Premier Fahie
said in the House of Assembly yesterday, March 10.
said that during budget sessions held with the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) late last year, it was clearly articulated by the Ministry of Finance that there was $1 million available for fishing and another $1 million available for farming through the Money Services Act that was passed by his government.
“That is why I could stand and tell the country emphatically that it is not true that only $50,000 is available for agriculture. I can say that without fear of being contradicted with proof,“ Premier Fahie
He said that in order for projects to be ‘ignited’ under the money services fund, they have to be brought in the form of a project and developed by the Minister of Agriculture and brought to Cabinet for approval.
“It exists,” the Premier insisted. “[There is] $1 million and I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to go and search for it and tell me if he doesn’t find it, and I will come back and apologise to the people of the Virgin Islands
if he doesn’t find it.”
He continued: “That is how sure I am. I will come back and say, ‘people of the Virgin Islands
, I misled you’. So the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t have to sit over there saying that is not true, go and research. And if you don’t find it, then come back and tell me.”
“Put out one of your birdies that you have in the Public Service, and tell them go and check,” Premier Fahie
“But you don’t have to go around any bend,” the Premier said, “you could come here [in the HOA] and ask a question. I’ll answer it or you could get one of them to tell you that the money is there from an initiative that we did to help the people of the Virgin Islands