"The United Kingdom is standing in the way of your stimulus package," were the worrying words of government consultant and ZBVI radio show moderator, Mr Claude O. Skelton-Cline to the people of the Virgin Islands on Monday, April 27, 2020.
"Here's what I know as a private citizen sitting on the outside looking in; we have money in our reserves, we have money in Social Security, we have money in the Consolidated Fund, we have money in the Contingency Fund... [but] we don't have access to that money," he said on his Honestly Speaking show.
Money available - Skelton-Cline
Mr Skelton-Cline continued, "The United kingdom, as to this date, [has not] given the green light in black and white, in writing, as to the conditions that fall within the Protocols for Effective Financial Management, concerning the borrowing guidelines, concerning the threshold that we would have to meet, if we fall below what's in the reserve, concerning we need their approval if we use our Social Security money."
He said Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) is now unable to deliver a viable economic stimulus package since there is no access to the money to fund it.
"We need them to get out the way...we are not asking for a nickel of their taxpayer's money, we are in a position in this partnership... where we can't even use our own taxpayers' money to fund our recovery to provide you with an economic [stimulus] package because the United Kingdom here to date, as I sit here, is standing in the way of your economic stimulus package," Mr Skelton-Cline remarked.
Guest Shaina M. Smith of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA), calling the scenario a stalemate, said the Premier needs to address the people of the Territory about the issues.
Formal agreement needed
Premier Fahie recently disclosed that details of the economic stimulus plan will be shared with the public in short order.
"Please note that Cabinet has already approved the template of the economic stimulus plan. The details in this matter will be made public very soon," Premier Fahie said on Friday, April 24, 2020.
But according to Skelton Cline, "It doesn't matter how nice a package you have in theory and on paper, if there is no funding for that package I can't come forward."
He said the VI cannot spend its own money without UK approval; however, the UK has not formalised any requests made by the Government to relax its financial stipulations.
"We got to get this resolved," he urged, pointing to the UK as an empire that built its wealth on the backs of the working poor and on slave labour and is now depending on coercive powers to control the VI in a systematic way.