Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith has assured that the Government intends to comply with the highest environmental standards for expansion of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport.
The Premier told a gathering of business leaders at Scrub Island during the 2013 BVI Business Outlook yesterday, January 16, that Government plans to pursue LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
LEED certification is a recognition that a construction project or building can attain by utilizing environmentally friendly building practices during construction or remodeling. The model was developed in 1998 to encourage environmental awareness amongst government agencies, architects, engineers, developers, and builders.
"The Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport is expected to play a pivotal role in the advancement of the BVI product. The prerequisites for this expansion include the minimisation of its environmental impact and footprint. A target has even been set for it to be Leeds certified, exemplifying the highest standards of green development," Premier Smith stated.
Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, who is spearheading the airport expansion has alluded to some delays in the pre-construction phase.
However, there remains debate about the financing of the project.
In October, Premier Smith revealed plans by the Government to finance the project through loan funding; however, Premier Smith has recently stated that it is yet to be determined how the project will be financed.
Last month in the House of Assembly, Premier Smith, who is also the Minister of Finance, responded to criticisms from Opposition Member and Second District Representative, Hon. Alvin Christopher about the project. Premier Smith said the project is still in its discussion phase.
"We have not determined as yet how it will be financed because when it was put out for tender, there was requirement for various forms of financing, so that has not been determined as yet, but I can say right here that there is no way that this project will cost in the region of $200M as was mentioned earlier," he stated.
Hon. Christopher, who spoke at length about the controversial multimillion dollar project during the December sitting, had stated that he understands that it is between $200 and $300 million.
"So to sit and to tell me that we are going to build an airport and you don't know what it's going to cost and all these different things...You are going to tender; you don't have any money, but you are going to put in interest...but you don't know how much it's going to be and cost. It's confusing me...because I have a much broader perspective of development," he stated.
Hon. Christopher also offered a suggestion for an alternative airport project for Anegada that will cost less money.
However, Premier Smith, who sought to assure the public that the project is not being dealt with in any haphazard manner, said it's not going to put the Government in any kind of compromising financial position.
"...It's not going to put this Government in that kind of financial position and is not going to have the impact that has been discussed on the borrowing capacity of the BVI...," he stated.