Hon. Julian Fraser
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Third District Representative and Opposition Member, Hon. Julian Fraser has attacked the economic austerity measures of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration, calling for an injection of cash into the economy.
Hon. Fraser made the suggestion during Other Business before the close of the Second Session of the Second House of Assembly last evening, September 3. However, his suggestion was not well received by Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton who warned against reckless spending.
The NDP Administration has continually accused the former Virgin Islands Party (VIP) of reckless spending, pointing to millions awarded in contracts on the doorsteps of the general elections last November.
Hon. Fraser indicated that there are two economic models "out there". One, he said, is the European model the other one is the American model. The Third District Representative indicated that Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. D. Orlando Smith is following the European model and that is the worse of the two.
"That is the model that's based on austerity, cutbacks and that cannot work, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, what this economy needs is an infusion of capital; it needs an injection of funds," Hon. Fraser stated.
He added that without the injection, people continue to ask for assistance, but the only way people are going to get jobs is if capital is infused into the economy.
"You have no option. You can't borrow; you got money and you putting it in the bank. Premier, I think this austerity line that you are taking isn't a working line. We need that money that you have here sitting in the Reserve Fund loose in the economy," Hon. Fraser stated.
He also added that once the economy gets going, they can start saving the money under the $15.7 million infrastructural projects funded by a CDB loan agreement.
"Let's get some of this money out there until my good friend here gets the airport project with his $100 and plus million going. Let's get this money out there. These projects are coming on stream soon. You got another $75 million project coming on stream. What are you waiting for? Don't be afraid; spend the money Premier. We got money coming. Money was made to be spent. Don't save it and you got the option under the protocols, so use it to your advantage," Hon. Fraser stated.
He also pointed out that the Premier indicated that $22 million was in the Reserve Fund and since the start of the year, some $14.5 million has been placed into the fund.
Hon. Fraser explained that financial protocols signed between the BVI and UK Government give the Premier the option of three years within which to make the protocols complaint. He questioned the current objective, asking if the Premier is trying to bring the country to the point where he can self-approve loans.
"I don't know what he is trying to do. He doesn't need it. He has three years; right now is when we need to infuse capital into the economy. We got this money in the Reserve Fund sitting there doing what and people need money. People need work Mr. Premier. I think that's what we need," Hon. Fraser stated.
Hon. Skelton during his contribution under Other Business said that the BVI failed to be prudent with its spending and as such, the UK Government introduced a number of measures.
"For the Member for the Third to sit down there tonight and say money is meant to be spent, don't be a chicken...calling the Premier a chicken. I wanted him to sit down there; those things are wrong. He is giving the wrong impression to the people on the outside that the Minister for Finance has a lot of leeway to do a lot of stuff now. That is wrong. He has four Ministers on his back all the time for monies, so we can get things done in the very districts that these people are talking about, but you have to follow certain procedures," Hon. Skelton stated.
Hon. Ronnie Skelton, Minister for Health and Social Development
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The Minister of Health further reminded that the BVI is not independent and since they don't want to go independent, they have to follow the procedures.
Hon. Skelton also suggested that even if the BVI is independent, they should have a document similar to the protocols to govern the way business is done.
"We can't continue taking up $5, $10, $15 million and just giving it away," Minister Skelton said.
He said that proper systems must be set up to help people so they could have sustainable ways to achieve in life.
"We give away and we think we doing the right thing. All of us think we are doing the right thing. We probably are helping like 10 to 15%. Madam Speaker, we cannot and I stress, we cannot continue to take tax payers' money and just willy nilly, just give away...we need to help our people so that they can grow in the construction field; in the various fields so they can be more self-sustaining instead of relying on an elected official for job. I think it can be done," Hon. Skelton stated.