Said 'no evidence' that financial protocols is hampering COVID-19 economic package
Governor of the Virgin Islands (VI), His Excellency Mr Augustus J. U. Jaspert aka 'Gus' has fired back at Premier Andrew A. Fahie (R1) over statements that certain conditions surrounding the Protocols for Effective Financial Management is hampering the government from moving full speed ahead with its COVID-19 economic reboot.
"It has been suggested publicly that these act as a barrier to the government's ability to deliver an economic response to COVID-19. The protocols have the sole purpose of ensuring sensible management of public financing and accountability to the public"
"By having them in place, the BVI is sending a clear message to potential lenders and international partners and most importantly to the people who live here, that we are committed to sensible borrowing and spending of public funds."
He said in practice, the protocols were about making sure that governments don't spend and borrow what they cannot afford to, hence, the protocols' guidelines to ensure the VI's financial safety is intact.
'No Evidence' - Gus
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie's (R1) contention is that the protocols have hampered the ability of the Government to seek out loan funding to help the local people and stimulate economic activity.
He said the Government's ability is, therefore, "constrained by certain conditions in the Protocols for Effective Financial Management due to conditions agreed to and signed to by the former Government. Your new Government has been trying since last year to renegotiate more favourable conditions."
However, even as the VI government has listed several concerns regarding the protocols and its ability to access financing, the Governor has rebutted those claims.
According to the Governor, "I've not seen any evidence to indicate that they hamper the government's ability to bring forward an economic package for the people, from what I understand the BVI's reserves are in a healthy position, over $80M according to the budget estimates announced late last year."
The Governor said the Fahie administration must, therefore, put forward its proposals to the UK about its OCVID-19 economic package plans.
'Temporary breaches' allowed - Gov Jaspert
However, even as the Governor cited no evidence that the protocols are hampering the Virgin Islands' borrow capability, he said it offers flexibility where the VI and UK government can agree to "temporary breaches" as in the case when the VI government needed to borrow large amounts of money in exceptional circumstances.
"The UK is committed to supporting each Territory through this crisis and is working hard to understand and meet any needs on a case by case basis. I hope that our government will soon enter discussions with the United Kingdom Government on their economic plans for the Territory, including any concerns over the protocols," he said.
The Premier has repeatedly said that in order for the VI to go ahead with any strategy where it breaches the protocols, the UK must agree to it in writing, which to date has not happened.