Beautiful Virgin Islands

What did previous governments do with the money? Premier asks

What did previous governments do with the money? Premier asks

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has questioned how governments over the past 20 years have spent budget surpluses, suggesting that the territory’s infrastructure was neglected because resources were not allocated in the way they should have been.
“In the past, we had the recurrent revenue being a lot smaller than it is right now. We had a big recurrent surplus and we could fund our capital projects just out of our recurrent surplus,” the Premier said. 

He continued: “You’re talking about recurrent surplus of $50, $60 million, and we really have to look back in the past and see, how we spent the money, how much of that money did we invest in our water distribution network? How much of that money did we invest in our roads, our ghuts, etcetera?”

The territory’s leader also contended that even though roads were paved over the years, the supporting infrastructure such as proper drainage had not been put in place. 

“So we’ve gotten to a point where the roads are completely in disrepair because over the past 20 years, we haven’t been making the investments in the roads, and then we expect [Public Works] Minister [Kye] Rymer to work a miracle on the roads,” the Premier added.

Rymer had no equipment

Among other things, Dr Wheatley said Rymer’s ministry had to acquire a paver, roller and mill upon entering office to properly execute road works in the territory.

“Everybody says it. You need, drainage. You need properly engineered and constructed roads and it takes money. You need equipment for good roads. The minister came in, he had no equipment,” the Premier stated. “The minister had to get an asphalt machine. Presently, we have to buy asphalt from a private provider.” 

Dr Wheatley further argued that in order to ‘really make a big splash’ in capital projects, governments now have no choice but to borrow. 

“Sometimes we are a little shy and reluctant to borrow, but we have to borrow some money,” the Premier said. “And beyond that, you know, you have ratios from the United Kingdom and, of course, I know we have to operate within limits from a responsible standpoint.”

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