Government has still not been able to drawdown on the $65M loan which was given by the Caribbean Development Bank to fund the BVI recovery efforts, and Minister for Education and Culture Hon. Myron Walwyn announced that this is unacceptable.
While speaking in the Other Business section of the 14 August House of Assembly sitting Hon. Walwyn stated that it is unfortunate that several months after the two hurricanes the Territory is still waiting to execute urgent rebuilding projects.
The Education Minister told the House: “We passed a $65M loan facility by Caribbean Development Bank in December and I would say what I said shortly then in private. I say it publicly now – I have been expressing my concerns and frustrations with the CDB loan.”
“You do not always come out and speak things because I think sometimes you have to try to handle things inside. Sometimes when it starts to manifest itself in the public you have to stop and briefly explain to people why it is not moving sometimes the way that they ought to move.”
“One of the concerns that I have had from the time we had that $65M was the onerousness of the process. The process is too onerous for where we are as a country. We cannot operate in a disaster the same way you operate when you don’t have one…You have to make sure of course that you have a very good and competent level of transparency and accountability, but you cannot have a process to the point where you become impotent and don’t get anything done, it doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Hon. Walwyn in explaining how tedious the process of getting the money has been even mentioned that Government has been trying to get the funds for months. “You say you have $65M loan facility in your hands…advanced $15M from it and you can’t have a cent of it spent almost a year after – it is absolutely ridiculous there is no other way to describe it and the bank (CDB) has to recognize that.”
The Education Minister said that the CDB should have taken the unique and urgent needs the BVI had into consideration. This might have assisted in an earlier drawdown of loan funds. “You came to a country that had a disaster, you can’t operate the same as if you went somewhere that didn’t go. Your procedures must be sufficiently malleable to address the concerns that are taking place in the particular country that you are operating.”
“We needed to have money on the ground now so that things can get done and that was supposed to be thought of, and of course negotiated on our end but the system that we have in place I don’t think it’s doing us well enough,” he added.
Meanwhile, Premier Smith and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith has announced that the Territory is getting ready to receive the needed funding from the CDB. The Premier in response to the Hon. Walwyn’s complaint told the House of Assembly that he received good news that the initial process was almost over.
Even in the private sector there have been repeated lamentations about the way banks with branches in the BVI have handled the situation. Instead of extending credit to old customers in need there has been a steady tightening of credit lines.
The Premier said: “Much has been said about the CDB loan and indeed it has been taking some time before we can get to use it, because of the processes, but Madame Speaker we are very close now to be able to utilize much of that resource and in fact I understand that we are now ready to put out contracts for some aspects of the projects which the loan was for.”
A Road Town entrepreneur observed that even in the private sector there have been repeated lamentations about the way banks with branches in the BVI have handled the situation. Instead of extending credit to old customers in need there has been a steady tightening of credit lines – he said.