Sun | Oct 20, 2019

BVI at odds with UK over financial assistance

Published:Wednesday | August 21, 2019 | 9:37 AM
BVI Premier Andrew A Fahie - Contributed photo.

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, CMC – The British Virgin Islands (BVI) government Wednesday said it is preparing to hold talks with the Treasury and other departments of the United Kingdom government to discuss “what can be described as, one of the most critical issues facing us as residents of this Territory in modern history.”

In an address to the nation, Premier  Andrew A Fahie said while he has his own vision and philosophy of where the British Overseas Territory needs to go and “how we should go about getting there…as in all other things, I am guided by you the people….

“I believe it is imperative that I must place all the relevant information before you so that you are aware of what is taking place and so that when the time comes, you would be able to have your say and make your input based on facts and informed opinions.”

Fahie said that the matter before the country is primarily that of accessing loan funding to support the mountain of work that needs to be done to advance the recovery, restoration, and development following the natural disasters of 2017.

But, he said the issue facing the island “is whether we are prepared to mortgage our birthright in order for the British government to provide the guarantee needed for us to access this critically needed funding”.

Fahie said at present, what the UK government is demanding in order for it to provide its guarantee, is for the Virgin Islands to basically hand over almost full control of the management of the Territory’s finances to the Recovery and Development Agency, which was set up at the request of London.

He said the limited self-government that the BVI currently enjoys “is the fruit of the labour and struggles of our forefathers who, through sheer grit and determination, forged the society that we see today after the slave masters and European capitalists abandoned these islands, condemning us to be nothing more than a bird sanctuary.

“Our freedom and autonomy were hard-earned, are priceless, and cannot be given up or diluted so easily,” Fahie said, noting that “while it is not unreasonable for the UK government to want some measure of security that we will be responsible and prudent in spending funds accessed through its guarantee and that we will repay the loans, it is our respectful view that what is being demanded of the people of the Virgin Islands at this time in order to access these funds is far in excess of what is reasonable”.

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