“How is it that your government could allow a company that is owned by you to be owing Inland Revenue money; owing NHI money; and so on and so forth, Social Security. It’s repugnant,” Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Julian Fraser announced in response to disclosure that the Government-owned Prospect Reef resort was negligent in paying its employees benefits/deductibles.
During the questions and answers section in the House of Assembly on 19 December, Hon. Fraser asked the Premier to state if the Prospect Reef resort employees’ benefits/deductions for NHI, Social Security, and Inland Revenue were current.
In response Hon. Smith explained that the payments were in arrears: “It has been brought to my attention that Prospect Reef’s contribution to the BVI Social Security Board on behalf of its staff is outstanding from December 2012…It also has been brought to my attention that the contribution for the NHI have not been paid for the year. It is expected that the Social Security and NHI contributions will be brought up to date by the end of this year. Prospect Reef Resort is also delinquent in paying its payroll tax to Inland Revenue,” the Premier disclosed.
The BVI Leader further noted that the resort is not being managed by government: “Firstly, it should be noted that Prospect Reef Resort is managed by an independent company – Prospect Reef Management Company Limited. A part of the responsibility of that company is to manage the affairs of the resort,” Hon. Smith explained.
However, the explanation was not well received by the Leader of the Opposition, who said: “I don’t see the relevance in pointing out to me that Prospect Reef is an independent company, whereas 100 percent of the shares as far as I know is owned by government; and the only way we can get answers to questions regarding these companies is coming here to the House. I don’t know the point the Premier was making there.”
Hon. Fraser also asked if the employees’, would be penalized for their employer’s non-payment: “I would like to know if the same punishment is being meted out to the employees of Prospect Reef as meted out to all the others by NHI when they talk about employers not paying in [the contributions]. They have some 100 [delinquent employers]whose employees will no longer receive benefits.”