Penn alarmed! Gov’t seeking over $38M heading into elections
Opposition Leader Marlon Penn said he was taken aback recently by a post-Cabinet statement from the government which was seeking additional funding.
“I was taken aback just last week when I got the Cabinet paper — the extract from Cabinet that speaks on the decisions that were made in Cabinet,” Penn stated.
The Opposition Leader said there were two major resolutions coming to the next available sitting of the House of Assembly (HOA).
An extract from the government’s March 23 Cabinet decisions shows the government decided that a draft resolution should be introduced at the next HOA sitting. This resolution is seeking to withdraw more than $38 million from various funds, including the Consolidated Fund and the Reserve Fund.
Penn said he has already expressed concern in the past about the government not accurately funding projects that it has been executing.
He made reference to the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) redevelopment project which he said grew from $7 million to a contract signing that called for $11 million.
Monies geared to elections campaign?
“This money seems like we’re gearing up for something, particularly campaign spending,” the Opposition Leader stated.
Penn warned that if those requested monies are withdrawn, the territory may eventually be in breach of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management signed a decade ago between the United Kingdom and the BVI. These protocols effectively set fiscal limitations for the territory to ensure that the government manages the public purse prudently and responsibly at all times.
“Based on the numbers that I’m seeing here, this is going to put us in breach of the Protocols for Effective Management based on our liquid assets and based on our current expenditure,” the Opposition Leader said.
Penn argued that current guidelines state that the BVI must maintain a position within 25 per cent of its liquid assets.
He said the Public Finance Management Act is very clear in terms of its regulations and how persons can access funds from the Reserve Fund.
Penn said he was deeply concerned that the BVI is now more than three years into the current administration and has not been given a clear picture in terms of the current financial state of the territory.