Leader of the Opposition and member of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) is not taking lightly to statements made by Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) that the previous NDP Government refused offer of grants from the United Kingdom (UK) following the devastation of the territory by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017.
Premier Fahie, on his return from the UK in September 2019, had stated it was shocking to learn that the opportunity to access grants following the 2017 disasters was not taken up by the previous administration.
“This would have allowed families displaced by Irma, many of whom are still not living in their own homes, to obtain money to rebuild their homes – money which they would not have had to pay back.
“We learned that the UK Government was told that you, the people of the Virgin Islands, did not need the money, and that the BVI preferred loans for construction projects instead.”
Premier Fahie also said it was learnt that an offer of aid from another jurisdiction was declined by a high-ranking official.
“Unfortunately, these ships have sailed since 2017, and those opportunities cannot be brought back.
“The widespread perception among Virgin Islanders is that we were treated poorly by the UK during our time of distress, and this has taken a toll on BVI-UK relations. And now, we have found out that these tensions were fueled by deliberate untruths,” Hon Fahie had mentioned in a public statement on September 17, 2019.
‘Show us the proof’
Honourable Penn, who was a Junior Minister under the NDP regime, will use the opportunity to ask for proof of the allegations by Honourable Fahe when the Seventh Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands is held tomorrow, Thursday, October 17, 2019.
“Mr Speaker, the Honourable Premier and Minister of Finance mentioned in a broadcast after his return from his recent trip to the UK that the former administration refused Grants from the United Kingdom for the people of the Virgin Islands for the rebuilding of the Virgin Islands. Could the Honourable Premier and Minister of Finance please provide proof of this refusal of grants by the former administration to this Honourable House of Assembly?” Mr Penn will ask, according to the Order Paper for tomorrow’s Sitting released to the media today, October 16, 2019.
Hon Penn will also be asking “What additional funding outside of the previously negotiated CDB loan has been secured to fund the recovery projects and what progress the Government has made in accessing the promised UK Guarantee of up to $400 million US dollars as of 9th October 2019?”
Some sixty-nine (69) questions will be posed to Premier Fahie and his ministers by the Opposition.
Meanwhile, some four bills are to be introduced tomorrow and some 5 bills to receive their second and third readings, including the ‘Computer Misuse and Cybercrime (Amendment) Act, 2019’.
The Sitting of the HoA tomorrow is scheduled to start at 10:00AM at the Parliament’s chambers in Road Town, Tortola.