No equity! VIP must account for mismanagement — Penn
The Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government must account for the inequity that has taken place under its watch, particularly with regard to the allocation of the territory’s resources as it relates to infrastructure development.
That was the sentiment shared by current Health Minister and National Democratic Party (NDP) Chairman, Marlon Penn when he appeared on the NDP Radio programme last evening, March 27.
According to Penn, all the major infrastructure work done in the territory over the past four years has been on the back of a $65 million loan secured by the NDP government from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) when it was in office previously.
Penn accused the government of taking some $22 million from the consolidated fund that could have been better placed into the capital expenditure of the budget to address the territory’s dire road issues.
Nothing to advance road agenda
He said the Recovery & Development Agency (RDA) that was established just before the NDP’s departure in 2019, was developed and designed to have the flexibility to address issues such as the infrastructural challenges facing the territory.
“This government, in all fairness, has done nothing to move the agenda of roads forward,” Penn argued.
He added: “It shows the lack of a vision, the lack of a plan to get these things done, and for us, they have to account for how they mismanaged the resources of this country and not put it towards the major national development issues that we needed to develop for the people of the country moving forward.”
He said the RDA should now be transformed into a national development agency to handle the infrastructure challenges facing the BVI.
Inequity in distribution of expenditure
In the meantime, Penn contended that there has also been inequity in the distribution of capital expenditure under the VIP government during its time in office, arguing that politics has been injected into the territory’s national development programme.
“You have a challenge where now you have a District [Representative] that is a Minister – and I’m going to reveal the numbers, in terms of how the capital expenditure budget was spent by the Minister of Communication and Works in this territory. It’s going to come out to the public,” Penn said.
“It shows that there’s no equity in the process. We have to ensure that… all the people in this country pay their taxes and deserve good roads; even the tertiary roads,” he argued.
Penn also shared that the NDP has put forward a proposal that there should be a proper budgetary allocation for roads within the various districts.