$198 Million Budget emphasizes value for money
It was the first time in the BVI's history that the Budget Address was
delivered by someone other than the Chief Minister.
With the coming to power of the National Democratic Party (NDP) in June
2003, the duties of Chief Minister and Minister of Finance were separated
and given to two different individuals.
"The decision to divide responsibilities in this manner was made not only
in deference to the unique abilities and talents of the Honourable
Minister, considerable though these certainly are," stated Chief Minister
Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith during the December 22nd LegCo meeting.
"Rather, this decision was driven by our shared belief that responsibility
over the financial aspect of government requires the full attention of a
minister, as the overall management and direction of the country requires
the full attention of the Chief Minister," Hon. Smith declared.
He said when the people of this territory elected them, the NDP made a
solemn pledge to bring a new style of leadership. "We promised to deliver
value for the people's money; and part of that commitment is making sure
that the duties of government are distributed in the most effective and
The Chief Minister said his government was also elected with the
understanding that they would bring new focus and energy to managing and
growing the economy and this has begun over the past six months.
He said steps taken to grow the financial services sector include visits by
himself and representatives of the public and private sector to Europe, the
United States and other key markets and opening up important dialogue with
the business community in order to find ways to create the necessary
conditions for dynamic growth, the benefits of which would be felt by all
"Madam Speaker, today's historic budget address by my Honourable colleague
will mark another step forward in this continuing effort to build a strong
and vibrant economy," Chief Minister Smith said in a statement at the start
of the sitting.
He said the investments reflected in the national budget will mean higher
quality education for children, expanded access to healthcare for families,
a more sturdy and reliable infrastructure and the increased opportunities
for jobs and self advancement for our people. It provides for expanded
educational opportunities at all ages, establishes programmes designed to
protect our natural resources, sets aside funding to prepare for the
unexpected and puts the dignity of each member of the community first by
expanding healthcare and social services that will be available to all.
"Madam Speaker, today we present the blueprint our plans for how to use
the resources of our territory in order to advance our shared objectives,"
Dr. the Hon. Smith stated. "No single budget can answer all the needs of
our territory, but in this budget, we take another step forward."
He said government hoped to do something beyond just providing the money to
get through another year or just divvying up dollars and cents. Rather, he
said the budget aims to create the conditions for growth, development and
prosperity that will serve our people today, tomorrow and for years to come.
The Chief Minister said the process of developing this blueprint required
hard work and called for difficult decisions that required the coordinated
effort of the entire government. He commended all the Ministers and their
hardworking and dedicated staffs for their contribution over the past weeks
to developing their plans for the coming year.
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