In an address to the Territory, Hon. Penn referred to ‘a wise saying’, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”.
“The sad and predictable reality is that our current situation stems primarily from the lack of planning. The uncertainty this fosters, the constant flip-flopping, policies announced today and changed tomorrow, will be blamed on COVID,” Hon. Penn stated.
He added, “Everything will be blamed on COVID. We have been dealing with COVID for a year now and our leaders can no longer hide behind COVID as an excuse for our economic challenges.”
Hon. Penn highlighted that like many countries, the economic devastation is going to be felt for years to come, with many asking the question, ‘how are we going to get out of this economically? Where is the plan?’
He stated that using the devastation stemming from the 2017 storms as example, there was progress post-Irma and Maria.
According to Hon. Penn, the tourism industry was in full recovery mode and that the Government of the day, the National Democratic Party (NDP), developed a national recovery plan. There was a strategy for the funding of that plan.
Hon. Penn said that funding was made available from the Government’s coffers, from global friends, and from the Caribbean Development Bank to the tune of sixty-five million dollars. Yes, you are seeing that money being spent today on the many infrastructure projects. There was a plan, and there was a way to fund that plan by way of the $400M guarantee from Her Majesty’s Government.
It is unfortunate that, with the current leadership crisis we face, this money is now lost to us. Many families are hurting now more than ever. Some of us had only just begun to get our lives back to some sense of normalcy following the devastating hurricanes of 2017. Then here comes COVID. A wise saying goes like this, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”,” Hon. Penn stated.
The Opposition Leader also took note that the Territory has endured from a health perspective the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that has taken countless lives around the world. He thanked the Ministry of Health and the frontline workers for their role in keeping the Territory safe.
He said his vision speaks to a new direction, one without the current rancor, without the disunity, without the lack of public trust and cronyism.
“My vision is one that demonstrates an understanding, that progress demands inclusivity, and that despite our cultural diversity, we are one people. A vision for all Virgin Islanders that clearly demonstrates we are better together,” Hon. Penn noted.