Speaking on the NDP radio programme last evening, Penn questioned where funding for an expected financial shortfall in the high school redevelopment project would come from if requested pledges by the Premier did not materialise.
After explaining that bids submitted by contractors had exceeded estimates prepared by the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) by more than $4 million, Premier Fahie requested millions of dollars in pledges from business owners in the territory to make up the shortfall.
“I am challenging seventy companies especially in the Virgin Islands to each make a donation of no less than $60,000 towards the Elmore Stout High School redevelopment project,” the Premier said at the contract-signing ceremony for the project.
And although the Premier said his government has access to monies it could use to fund the project, he explained that he preferred to go in another direction.
Opposition Leader Penn argued that the requested pledges offered no guarantee of funding for the project, especially given the five-month timeline for completion.
“If those pledges don’t come in, where are they going to go? Back into the Reserve Fund. The Reserve Fund is the place that we are going to go to get those additional monies to get those projects going,” Penn contended.
“The Reserve Fund is going to get a hit and I want to get the public ready for this,” he warned.
“All these projects that you are seeing that we are promised, that are being promised, that are being started and the adequate funding is not in place to get them going, the Reserve Fund is going to take a hit,” Penn continued.
“We are going to fleece it to just to play political games leading up to the elections,” the Opposition Leader said while referring to government. “We’re going to empty the Reserve Fund.
“Public, pay attention,” he urged. “They are going to go after the reserve fund money and I’m sure they’re still trying to get after the Social Security [Board] money, to get at that grant money.”