Cabinet is expected to pour over a stimulus package in the coming days to assist residents and businesses cope with the economic fall out from the coronavirus COVID-19.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie indicated that Cabinet has granted an extension for the submission of the plan. According to the Premier, the plan is expected to reach Cabinet on Wednesday and thereafter an announcement will be made following the meeting.
There have been job cuts, particularly in the tourism sector that relies heavily on cruise visits and airlifts - both grounded as a result of closed borders globally to prevent the spread of the virus. Premier Fahie has been pleading with landlords, banks and service providers to be lenient during this period as the Territory prepares to enter a 14 day 24hr lock down period starting at 6 pm today, April 4.
The Premier had pleaded for patience as Government worked through health protocols intended to prevent the spread of the virus in the community, citing that it was better to save lives first. However, there are growing calls for Government to release plans to shore up the economy.
Crafting of the stimulus plan is critical not only locally, but it will help the Virgin Islands in its quest to tap into funding from the United Kingdom which has requested the plan before looking into the Territory's request for financial support. However, the Premier said although he submit the plan to the UK as requested, he differs with their approach.
"What we are asking for to be very blunt is assistance from the UK to find out if we get; not granting aid we have graduated from that. We want grants and we are going to also use what we have," Premier Fahie stated.
He further explained Government's position, "We have to get help and if we don’t get it from one place we have to go somewhere else. But right now we are talking with the UK we are going to bring our plan in. As the governor said he wants to see our plan to see where the UK fit in, I slightly disagree because if you are going to help me, you could help me and tell me you are going to give me a grant, but its targeted towards that, but I would do as I am asked and from there we will go and see."
Premier Fahie stated that there is no country in the world that is going to get out of this without assistance. He explained that he is seeking assurance that if local funds are utilised solely then the fiscal management agreement between the BVI and the UK are going to be relaxed.
"So if you cannot, one of the areas to show help is to relax protocols without having stiff conditions on them and to allow us to relax some of our funds without putting restrictions on them in these hard times," Premier Fahie stated.