Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE has said that it is time for residents to get their livelihoods back on track following the weather events of 2017.
Premier Smith, while addressing the launch of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan- hurricane Irma on April 10 said, “It is time for us to get on with the several projects and initiatives that are identified for each ministry in the loan agreement. And, it is time to weather proof our infrastructure and rebuild it in a way that offers some resiliency to unprecedented weather patterns.”
The Premier said his Government is now ready to begin injecting the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) $65.2 million loan into the economy to rehabilitate and rebuild schools, roads,ferry terminals and other infrastructure; working hand-in-hand with the CDB, as well as local contractors.
He said the expected outcomes of the loan agreement will impact the entire population of the Virgin Islands. “Our children are no longer sitting in the comfort of their classrooms. In fact, some of the school buildings were flattened; in other cases the buildings are just not conducive to learning”, he said.
The Premier added, “We will have SMART schools; more resilient infrastructure; schools that are greener, disability ready and programmes that are technologically savvy. This loan will help us in our ongoing investment in education and the future of our children.”
The Territory’s leader spoke about improvements to the road networks, making them safer and more flood resilient for all drivers and pedestrians.
He said the ports will be improved to enable the BVI to work towards delivering to its travelers improved terminals and a better customer service experience;while ensuringthe construction of abuilding and restoration of equipment for the Department of Disaster Management.
Premier Smith further added, “We can also look forward to improving our water supply and waste water facilities which were severely compromised during the hurricane. Our people can look forward to improved quality and efficiency of water supply with the rehabilitation of meters and reservoirs, and resolving our wastewater service especially in the East End/Long Look and Cane Garden Bay areas.”
The Premier assured the private sector that the Government will continue to work in its best interest, noting that while there will be public sector spending through this loan, policies will be developed to help rebuild and strengthen the private sector to enable growth in the economy.
The CDB Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan-Hurricane Irma funds will be dispersed by the Government over the next three years.