Statement by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. The Honourable Orlando Smith, OBE During The Fourth Sitting of The Third Session of The Third House of Assembly of The Virgin Islands
on Thursday 26 April, 2018, at The House of Assembly, Road Town, Tortola at 10:00 A.M.
Update on the Recovery Process
Madam Speaker, my Government’s work on the recovery and development of the Territory is unrelenting and continues apace. I am therefore pleased to provide a further report on the recovery process.
Before I do so Madam Speaker, I must acknowledge a record event in this Territory’s history. Madam Speaker, the people of this Territory have been through tough times following the natural disasters of August and September last year, but we live in constant hope of brighter days ahead. One such brighter day came on Thursday April 12th, 2018 when our very own Kyron McMaster won the gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Madam Speaker, I believe that I speak for all Virgin Islanders when I say that we are inspired by Mr. McMaster’s focus and exceptional athletic prowess. Especially in these trying times, his achievements inspire all of us, young and old, to press on regardless and to give our all to overcome the challenges we now face as a people as he so ably represents us all over the world.
Madam Speaker, I am also moved to collectively acknowledge and express warm appreciation to all of our BVI athletes who are ambassadors for this Territory worldwide representing us with pride and humility despite the difficulties on the home front.
Madam Speaker, during the last sitting, this Honourable House passed The Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act, 2018 heralding the start of a new era in the recovery process. The Act came into force on 23 April, 2018 and 6 persons have already been approved for appointment to the Board of the Agency. These persons are:
- Dr. Robert Mathavious, Chairman
- Pastor Gregory George
- Ms. Maria Mays
- Ms. Sharie DeCastro
- Mr. Clarence Faulkner and
- Mr. Clyde Lettsome
We are grateful to the named individuals for agreeing to take on this very important responsibility and look forward to the exemplary execution of their duties under the Agency Act.
Madam Speaker, my Government continues its negotiations with the United Kingdom to settle the terms of the loan guarantee of 300 million pounds sterling. In the meantime, the CDB Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan has reached some critical milestones.
Madam Speaker, on 12 April, my Government signed a contract valued at $1,242,517.50 with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to serve as the implementing support to the Projects Unit in the Ministry of Finance. Their core services will include project management, strategic sourcing and procurement support, support for fiduciary management of loan proceeds, and building capacity within the Public Service. The CDB Rehabilitation and Reconstruction loan will serve projects and initiatives under several agencies in Government and it is good that we were able to secure the expertise and assistance of UNDP to manage this complex process.
Madam Speaker, the CDB Loan further provides funding for construction of a new National Emergency Operations Headquarters. CDB has already given its approval for the engagement of a consultant to review and complete the designs for the new building, and to provide construction management services.
Madam Speaker, with the 2018 Hurricane Season quickly approaching, my Government has also approved funding to allow the reinstatement of critically needed equipment and monitoring systems for the Department of Disaster Management. Madam Speaker, you will recall that DDM lost its seismic and weather monitoring equipment, and its emergency telecommunications and early warning alert network during the disasters of 2017.
Madam Speaker, the current CDB loan project also includes targeted funding to provide psycho-social support to children, teachers, and emergency workers and their families. This initiative is designed to assist persons to cope with social and psychological impacts associated with the storms of 2017, and to help persons prepare for future events. We expect to formally engage UNICEF and PAHO within the next month to provide psycho-social support in the education and health sectors.
Madam Speaker, another component of the CDB Loan is rehabilitation of some primary and secondary schools and we expect the designs and cost estimates for rehabilitation works to be completed shortly. This will be followed by a tender process to engage contractors to perform the works. One of the key targeted projects is the reinstatement of the L-shaped building at the Elmore Stoutt High School.
Madam Speaker, my Government has also approved targeted and specific funding for the revitalisation of Cane Garden Bay. This will be of immense benefit to the residents of that community but also to our critical cruise tourism sector. Similarly, Madam Speaker, we are also focused on a number of other infrastructure and rehabilitation projects throughout the Territory as we prepare to welcome back our cruise visitors in full force in the upcoming season.
Madam Speaker, I conclude by again expressing my deep and sincere gratitude to the local and international community, for their continued support for our beloved Islands – whether it is a kind and encouraging word, a prayer, a helping hand, or contributions in cash or in kind. We remain forever grateful.
Thank you Madam Speaker.