The of eight million dollars from a loan approved by the House of Assembly to do, among other things, the East End/Long Look sewage project was referenced by Junior Minister for Trade and Investment, and Eighth District Representative Hon. Marlon Penn as a demonstration of Government’s indiscipline.
While debating the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act, 2018 Hon. Penn lamented that running sewerage is still an appalling issue in his District and he noted that the situation could have been remedied long ago.
He told the House: “For the past seven years since I have been in this House I have been talking about the issue of sewerage in my community and my colleague before me, been here 20 years. I was in college when I heard him screaming about sewerage and the potential for cholera. Sewerage is still running in the streets of our community, you know why? Not because we never borrowed money to do what we have to do because we had no discipline to follow through on what we have to follow through on.”
“Eight million dollars was taken from the money that was borrowed to get sewerage done Madame Speaker and shifted elsewhere and now the people of my community still have to suffer with sewerage running in the streets because we lack the discipline to do the things that we need to,” Hon. Penn stated.
Hon. Penn called for measures to be put in place to prevent a repeat of such horrors: “There needs to be a national development strategy. Things that are beyond politics that can be removed from political interference and it has to be something that is approved by the people of this country a shared vision a contract between us the leaders and the people of this country in terms of how we want to develop this country so that these types of things cannot happen no matter who shifts in government,” he said.
Miasma continues despite assurances
It was announced that the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) has so far made two repayments of the eight million dollars that the Government had loaned for the completion of the Cruise Pier project. The money transferred to the BVIPA was taken from the East End Sewerage Project and in September 2016 Minister for Communications and Works assured the media that the East End works will continue.
In response to questions from reporters in relations to the loan and the sewerage works Hon. Vanterpool said: “We have in place an arrangement for the Port Authority to repay the $8 million. They started repaying it, and they are paying it in a programme we have arranged with them on a quarterly basis to come back to the sewage programme. So the sewerage programme will be using those funds to continue its works that we have already began in the East End area. So the money has already started to come back from the Ports Authority through the ministry.”
The Minister disclosed that arrangement stipulates that the repayment be done in quarterly installments of $500,000. He further mentioned that so far one million dollars was paid back, and that the full loan would be repaid over four years.
The transfer of the eight million sewerage fund was disclosed on 31 March 2016 by Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith during his wrap up of the 2016 budget debate. The Premier confirmed the loan as he responded to comments on the matter that were made by members of the Opposition during the debate.
Hon. Smith dismissed the suggestion that the transfer of funds from the sewerage project to the port project was an illegal act.