One of the things I have recognised as Minister of Finance is that people want to make charitable contributions in the BVI,” said Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie during remarks at the launch of the BVI Resilience Fund today, Thursday, June 4, 2020.
The BVI Resilience Fund, formerly known as the BVI Restoration Foundation while under the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), is a charitable nonprofit organisation designed to support the growth and development of the Virgin Islands through philanthropic contributions.
According to Premier Fahie, it is a legal entity that will allow nationals of the United States to give a charitable gift for the benefit and growth of the Virgin Islands.
Fund failed under RDA
He said this revenue source was a key component of the RDA strategy after the hurricanes of September 2017 and that enquiries were made and possible donors were contacted by the RDA and others regarding the soliciting of contributions into the Fund.
“For various reasons, the Fund never became operational and this may have contributed to the potential loss of interest, and consequently donations, as time lapsed,” Hon Fahie stated, adding that he does not believe in seeing good ideas being shelved no matter who are the originators of those ideas.
“Over the past few months, since the emergence of COVID
-19, and your Government’s anticipation of the economic impact that the pandemic would have on the Territory, we began exploring options for generating funding to support the resilience of the Territory and our people.
“One mechanism that we identified was very similar to that of the Restoration Fund, but with some modifications. In the discussions that were held around this topic, it was realised that there were contributors who were willing to support such a programme, as long as they can see that the Fund is properly managed and that there is transparency and accountability.”
Premier Fahie added that, as such, in April 2020, Cabinet agreed to the renaming, re-purposing, new Board compliment and change of address of the BVI Restoration Fund.
The Board members are: Meade W. Malone - Director, President; Glenroy A. Forbes - Director, Treasurer; Dr Henry G. Jarecki – Director; Doug Riegels – Director; Claude O. Skelton-Cline – Director; and Najan Christopher – Secretary
The organisation will operate independently from Government.
The purpose of the Fund, according to the Premier, has been changed to that of preventing and alleviating poverty and suffering of the inhabitants of the Virgin Islands through health, disaster relief, education and infrastructure development, temporary housing, and economic development initiatives.
“This means that if you are from the United States and did not have a mechanism to donate as a tax write-off, you can do so legally to assist the Virgin Islands through this fund. This is indeed a grand opportunity for US contributors to partner with the Virgin Islands who will be the beneficiary.”
Premier Fahie also presented a list of opportunity areas available for persons to donate to, including entrepreneurship; the expansion and modernisation of port facilities, the expansion and modernisation of the airport runway and airport facilities; and expansion and construction of schools, among many other infrastructural development areas.
He said there are also opportunities for the expansion of H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC), including investments in scholarships locally and abroad; investments in Arts and Culture programmes, among other areas.
Additionally, he said persons may want to donate to clinics, shelters, social protection for seniors, women and our special needs population.
“All proceeds received will be used for the intended purpose which is identified by the donor, and the filing and reporting requirements to the Government of the Virgin Islands and the IRS must be adhered to at all times.
“The Board will see to this through the legal structures that dictate that it be done.”
An optimistic Premier Fahie said the BVI Resilience Fund will be an effective tool in soliciting donations to assist with the recovery from 2017, economic shock and other impacts from COVID
-19, and other charitable needs in the Territory.