The Government of the Virgin Islands has allocated $62.9 million to the second phase of the British Virgin Islands Economic Response plan.
This announcement was made during a live address by Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie on May 28.
In his presentation, Premier Fahie said, “We acknowledge that a number of business and individuals remain affected, and this especially includes businesses and persons that derive their income from different sectors of the economy.”
The Minister of Finance gave a breakdown of the source of the funding for the $62.9 million as follows:
- $40 million from the BVI Social Security Board;
- $17 million from the BVI Social Security Board’s Affordable Home Construction Project;
- $ 2 million from the Social Security Board for Construction; and
- $3.9 million from Central Government.
The Premier explained that the sum of $40 million from the Social Security Board was given in the form of a grant towards the Government’s efforts at providing social and economic relief and stimulating economic activity.
Funding has been allocated to assist in the following areas: Unemployment Relief Support; Grants to Businesses affected by COVID-19; Hotel and Accommodation Quarantine Stimulus; Support to Daycares, Private Schools and Religious Organisations; Food Production; Traffic Transformation and Transportation; Social Needs; BVI Electricity Amnesty; National Health Insurance; Housing repairs assistance, Construction and a Special COVID allocation through the House of Assembly elected representatives.
The Premier said that the Government recognises that workers have been laid off or placed on reduced days from their jobs due to COVID-19. Thus, the Government has set up an unemployment fund through the Social Security Board called the COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Fund in the sum of $10 million dollars.
He added that local businesses experiencing challenges can qualify for a grant to make an effort to keep their staff employed. The $6.5 million dollars used to fund that initiative comes from the grant from the BVI Social Security Board.
Speaking to economic response for the Tourism industry, Premier Fahie said that the Government is aware that hotels, guest houses, inns and villas had to close their doors due to health and safety measures implemented during COVID-19. Thus, a $1 million dollar grant was secured to provide an opportunity for hospitality businesses to experience cash flow and to provide income opportunities for their employees.
Premier Fahie said support will be given to farmers and fisher folk to purchase the much needed equipment for business continuity and to enhance food production. This support is funded by a $2 million dollar grant from the Social Security Board.
The Premier added that the new transformation of the traffic in the city and the implementation of the park and ride programme will aid in creating a pedestrian friendly Road Town. Thus, $1 millon dollars was allocated to engage local taxi operators to provide the shuttle service, as well as to transport returning nationals to quarantine facilities as needed.
Honourable Premier also announced a three-month amnesty for individuals and businesses that qualify on payments to the BVI Electricity Cooperation. Funding was also allocated for Housing Repairs and the Recovery and Development Programme both to assist with the rehabilitation and development post the 2017 hurricanes.
Other funding was allocated to support daycares, private schools and religious organisations; and social needs in the amount of $1million each. Additionally, $7.5 million dollars was allocated to the National Health Insurance to ensure that residents continue to get healthcare during COVID-19. There was also a special COVID-19 allocation of $300,000 to all elected representatives of the House of Assembly to assist residents with other immediate COVID-19 related needs not outlined above.
The Government of the Virgin Islands is now in Phase Two of the ongoing economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.