Statement By Honourable Andrew A. Fahie
Premier And Minister Of Finance
Official Visit To The United Kingdom
September 10th, 2019
Fellow Virgin Islanders and Residents,
A pleasant Good Day and God’s Blessings to you.
In keeping with my pledge to keep you informed of all matters that are likely to have significant impact on your lives and interests as citizens, I wish to say that today I will be leading a delegation of officials of the Government of the Virgin Islands to the United Kingdom (UK) to discuss the conditions of the loan guarantee, among other areas.
As we leave to represent you the people, I am asking you as a Territory to petition God so that He goes with us on this journey.
I am aware that the decisions we make today as a Territory will have far-reaching consequences for the present and future generations of Virgin Islanders.
Topping the list of issues on the agenda is the renegotiation of the conditions attached to the UK Government’s offer of its guarantee for loans to finance the Territory’s recovery from the devastating 2017 hurricanes and other developmental projects.
Consistent with my personal commitment and that of your government, this issue has been opened up for public consultation, so that you, the people whose everyday lives will be affected by this decision, could make your voices heard.
Your government extended itself to provide you with a wide spectrum of information, analyses and recommendations that has been offered to us on this subject, as well as the real and potential pros, cons and risks of this offer, so that you have the benefit of viewing the issue from more than one perspective.
I thank the Government of the United Kingdom for doing its part to also share information with the public.
Indeed, the welfare of these Virgin Islands is very dear to those of us who are blessed to call it home. Therefore, it is the view of your new government that in order for our people to make the decisions that best benefit the Territory, you must have all the relevant information, so that they can form informed opinions.
I want to assure you that your government is committed to participatory decision making. You can believe me when I say that we cherish your input during the consultation period. We have listened to your views and we will be guided by them as we move forward.
At this important juncture in our history, I want to ask you to pray that God Almighty watches over and directs the weighty deliberations between the Governments of the Virgin Islands and the UK in the upcoming days.
Pray that He guides your representatives so that the results will be fruitful and beneficial to the interests of the Virgin Islands.
These precious islands belong to us as Virgin Islanders. They are our gifts from God and it is our responsibility to protect them and to always secure that which is best for them.
These islands are also part of the legacy of our forefathers. Having risen up and broken free from more than two and three-quarter centuries of chattel slavery, these lands became the inheritance that they passed on to us.
Another aspect of that legacy lives in our heritage – our way of life, which also must be protected. Our heritage defines who we are, and if this is wiped out then we will truly lose our identity. If our heritage dies then the suffering and triumphs of our forefathers will be forgotten from history.
The memory of our ancestors lives on through us, and it must be kept alive.
The present generation has a responsibility to preserve these lands, this history, this legacy, and to ensure that they are safely passed on to the next generation of Virgin Islanders.
We, the present generation, have a responsibility to ensure that whatever decisions and actions are taken in our time benefits – not burdens – the generations of the future.
One of the proverbs of our fore-parents is that the country is owned by those who own the land. Ownership of land gives you security.
That is why your government is taking steps to ensure that all Crown lands that are earmarked for residential use are made available to the people of the Virgin Islands.
I have already raised the matter with the Honourable Minister for Natural Resources, Immigration and Labour, and mandated him to have the issues involved in this matter resolved forthwith.
Protection of the BVI comes first – BVI for BVI, in everything we do.
That is why your government will ensure that whatever is the outcome of the negotiations with the UK Government, the decisions will be taken in the best interest of the BVI for the BVI. We maintain that no one can determine what is best for the BVI than the BVI.
Having said that, I want to assure all stakeholders that the Government of the Virgin Islands will be traveling to the UK with an open mind, and aiming to find common ground and to chart a course that is in the best interest of the generations of Virgin Islanders – now, tomorrow and in the further future.
To my fellow Team Members, both from my Government and all the Members of the Opposition, I want to thank you for your unwavering support & prayers as we all work towards one common goal: to create a better BVI for future generations and one that those who have gone before us will be proud of.
As we embark on chartering uncharted seas, we must remember that until we have made the lives of our people in the BVI better we have not truly served.
It is a must! As we go off to UK to redefine the conditions surrounding the Loan Guarantee, the principles that the People of the BVI must be economically empowered, and Cabinet must steward the outcome of the procurement, with all loan funding going to the consolidated fund or a special fund to be set up with criteria to be met before transferring to the Recovery Development Agency.
Further, I will be using this opportunity to ask the UK government for scholarships for our people in areas such as, but not limited to: hotel management, marine industries, medical training, and aviation training and for recruitment in BVI for their NAVY and other armed forces.
Also, I expect to have talks with the UK’s tourist authority to assist in branding BVI as a sand and sea destination as we create more opportunities for our people.
With God’s help, I am mindful that I am to create a myriad of opportunities for my people.
While I am away from the Territory from September 10-15, the new Deputy Premier, Honourable Vincent Wheatley, will act as Premier.
May God continue to guide and protect the people of these beautiful Virgin Islands.
I thank you.