BVI, Caribbeanand International News

BVI made gigantic mistake rejecting UK loan guarantee — Pickering

BVI made gigantic mistake rejecting UK loan guarantee — Pickering

The BVI made a colossal misstep when it refused to accept a loan guarantee offer of more than $420 million from the United Kingdom (UK) after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
This was the view expressed by former Seventh District Representative and Deputy Premier within the then-governing National Democratic Party (NDP), Dr Kedrick Pickering.

Dr Pickering, who previously split with the party when it contested the 2019 polls, has now rejoined the NDP after previously announcing that he would run as an independent Territorial At-Large candidate.

While appearing on the Honestly Speaking show earlier this week, Dr Pickering said the BVI now needs to have a mature discussion with the UK government about its infrastructural needs.

“This is my own personal opinion, based on my experience in the House [of Assembly] when we did the RDA [Act] and to where we are right now, we made a gigantic mistake by not accepting the loan guarantee that [we] were being offered,” Dr Pickering said.

The former Deputy Premier said although that offer may no longer be on the table from the UK, the territory needs to find ways to encourage the UK to help the BVI to get the money it needs to repair its badly damaged infrastructure.

“We can’t raise the revenue that we need right now in the time that we need it to fix our infrastructure,” Dr Pickering said.

According to Dr Pickering, the BVI will continue to fall further and further behind without the UK’s aid.

He further argued that, ideally, infrastructure should not be a discussion among residents in the next four years. “It should be a discussion only in so far as we are happy with where we have arrived and hope to be where we need to be if we haven’t completed the task,” he stated.

Former Premier Andrew Fahie said at the time that the terms presented by the United Kingdom for accepting the loan guarantee for the territory’s hurricane recovery programme were unconstitutional and needed to be revised before ultimately refusing the deal.

Just last year, Fahie said his government did not regret declining the UK’s offer, but Third District Representative Julian Fraser said the BVI made an embarrassing gamble when it nixed the deal. Fraser argued that the move may have backfired given the unanticipated blow taken by the BVI’s economy in the wake of COVID-19.

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