criticises lack of concrete answer regarding VI's plea for COVID-19 financing from UK
Skelton-Cline has in the past petitioned the Governor to ask the UK for a definitive answer on their decision over a request from Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie for a grant to match what the VI was making available to its unemployed population as a result of COVID-19.
Protocols frustrating recovery efforts - Skelton-Cline
While the UK has committed to helping the VI, Governor Jaspert said the VI has healthy financial reserves and that the Territory can handle its own affairs.
It was also announced that a UK navy ship had visited the Territory and used the opportunity to scope approaches to the islands as part of preparations for the hurricane season, affirming UK's commitment to the Commonwealth and British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean.
According to Skelton-Cline, "We don't need no flyovers, what we need is the relaxation or the waving of some of those components in the instruments, the Protocols for Effective Financial Management that is interrupting, that is frustrating our capacity to recover and to develop this country," he said on the April 20, 2020, edition of his show, Honestly Speaking.
'It's like having a girlfriend [and] she keeps telling you all I want to do is for us to spend twenty minutes on the couch and talk, you keep sending her flowers, she don't want no flowers, she wants communication, she wants quality time," he said.
According to the man of the cloth, the VI is not looking for the UK and the Governor to seem relevant by 'being seen' and just doing something mundane for the Territory.
Petition to UK on Protocols
Speaking during a live COVID-19 update to the Territory on April 15, 2020, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) had said Cabinet agreed to instruct the Financial Secretary to lead technical discussions with the UK Government’s financial technical team in petitioning the Secretary of State to relieve the Government of the Virgin Islands of its obligations under Section 20 of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management and the review and amendment of Sections 25, 27 and 28.
This, Hon Fahie had said, is to, “enable the BVI Government to secure the funding necessary to respond to catastrophic events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, in light of 1. The real impacts and economic forecast outlook for the BVI due to the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, 2. The unavailability of grant funding from the UK Government and 3. The impediment the conditions of the Protocols for Effective Financial Management pose to the BVI Government being able to finance immediate relief and economic stimulation programmes on its own.”
'VI needs substantive decision' - Skelton-Cline
"We don't need appeasing, we need substantive decisions to be had regarding how we are going to move forward, given the economic shifting and the impact that this pandemic, that the hurricanes, have had on us as a country and as a people," Mr Skelton-Cline said.
He called for concrete answers regarding the VI's request for financial assistance and promised to keep pounding the drums until a substantive answer is given.
"We need money, we need to be free from the hindrances...given these acts of God, natural disasters, pandemic... so that our country can develop. We cannot be at the mercy of the UK when they themselves are fighting for their lives and yet will want to dictate how we move."