The Greenhouse Project following hurricane Irma.
Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
After years of languishing and millions spent, the greenhouse project at Paraquita Bay was wiped out by Hurricane Irma last month.
The project, which was started under the former Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government, prior to the 2011 general elections, was given little attention under the National Democratic Party (NDP) administration.
BVI Platinum News sought to ascertain from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, whether the greenhouses were insured and whether there is a future for the project, but those efforts proved futile.
In October of last year, the House of Assembly approved a $1.5 million loan to finance the startup and functioning of the project, but the Opposition saw the move as a joke.
The $1.5M was part of the initial $4.8M loan facility by the VIP from Deutsche Bank S.A.E back in 2009. VIP spent some $2.1M and then in October 2016, the NDP sought the $1.5M from the same loan facility, bringing the total to $3.6M.
Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour was the mover of the Motion for the $1.5M in October.
Hon. Julian Fraser, Third District Representative and Opposition Member, had claimed that the move was an effort to fool the people that the NDP government was committed to completing the project soon.
Hon. Fraser said that the NDP had over five years to get the project completed after picking up from the former VIP government in 2011.
"Five years this administration has been around and now they come telling me that they need $1.5M; this is a joke. I think it is embarrassing coming here asking for $1.5M. I wish you had to do whatever you had to do for the $1.5M," he said during the debate of the Motion in 2016.
"Find the $1.5M however you did, whether take it from another project, Consolidated Fund. Finish the project, then come here and say you want to compensate whatever. But to come here at this late hour seeking $1.5M, it gives me the impression that for the next two years we will be talking about this and nothing will be happening," Hon. Fraser had stressed.
The Third District Representative claimed that works were moving swiftly along under VIP.
"And the rate that project was going, I shouldn’t have any problem finding ginger, cucumbers in the Territory. What happened?"
Hon. Fraser had also claimed that Dr. Pickering did not present a plan as to what will happen when the greenhouses are completed.
Government had named various issues as paralyzing factors thwarting the completion of the project, and chief among the mentioned was the ongoing issue with IBT, the owner of the greenhouse facilities. The $1.5M was to pay off the monies owed to IBT to have access to the necessary equipment.