Dismissing the Opposition’s recent proposals for economic recovery as a fantasy, Premier Andrew Fahie said his government will roll out the second phase of its COVID-19 economic stimulus plan towards the end of May.
Fahie made that announcement amid claims by the parliamentary Opposition that his government has been ‘unable to present a fully-articulated stimulus plan to date.
As he sought to debunk those claims in a live broadcast on Tuesday night, Premier Fahie said: “As everyone knows, we are already into our third week of the first phase of the rebooting and reawakening of our economy under the new regular. The BVI will be moving to phase two of the Economic Stimulus-Response, details of which will be released on May 28, 2020.”
Fahie pointed out that part of his government’s stimulus saw more than 20,000 residents fed during the 24 hour lockdown period.
He said monies were allotted for food security and contracts were issued for employment in the construction sector.
“Every person who has been awake and paying attention over the past few weeks is fully aware of your government’s allocation of $2 million for the development of agriculture and fisheries to get our fisherfolk and farmers the tools they need be efficient in their production,” the Premier stated.
He continued: “In the last week alone, a number of major construction projects have been launched to stimulate economic activity, provide job opportunities for persons, to enhance the development of the territory and to improve public infrastructure.”
The leader of government business further said anyone who ‘insists’ on the creation of a long term plan that is ‘etched in stone’ during this unpredictable COVID-19 period is either naive or being misleading.
“I say this because it has come to my attention that Her Majesty’s tri-party Loyal Opposition has returned to their familiar strategy of engaging in propaganda, by promoting a magic-potion plan for healing all the economic wounds of COVID-19. As Premier and Minister for Finance, I can assure you that the situation – and the solutions – are much more complex that the tri-party Opposition is portraying them to be,” Fahie said.
How will these ideas be financed?
The Opposition had released a multiple-layered plan involving initiatives to support and sustain small and medium-sized businesses and provide ‘wage support’ to the vulnerable and unemployed.
Fahie, however, dismissed the Opposition’s plan and proposal for sectors such as agriculture and fisheries as “basic suggestions” that are already contained in his administration’s plan and that have long been in the public domain.
He further questioned how the Opposition’s proposal would be funded.
“Anyone can just list out lofty activities for millions of dollars, but the question is how will these things be paid for? This is what the tri-party Opposition and their operatives have failed to tell you the people, and it is why his pronouncements must be approached with extreme caution,” the Premier stated.
We don’t have limitless $$
The Finance Minister then reminded then proceeded to remind residents that the territory’s financial resources are not limitless. He said this is so because of ‘poor management and poor decisions’ by the previous NDP administration.
One area he pointed to was the financial services sector and its declining revenue stream.
“The financial services sector has suffered a decline of millions of dollars due to measures such as beneficial ownership and open registry that were imposed by external forces. The former government did not implement any plan to contain this situation, and hence the decline in this industry. This resulted in millions of dollars less to take care of the needs of you, the BVI public,” he said.