The Premier was at the time responding to claims by Opposition Leader Marlon Penn that once withdrawn, some of those funds would likely be directed towards campaign financing for the ruling Virgin Islands party (VIP).
“What is election campaigning money?“ Premier Fahie asked when questioned about the issue by a reporter at a press conference last Friday.
“Well, I can’t answer for them (the Opposition). You’ll have to see them and ask them, how do you define election campaign money in a budget? When you put a project in the budget or anything you put in the budget, you have to justify it. The notes are there, they know that. So, you don’t ever could put a project or something in the budget and put down the notes, ‘This is for election’,” he added.
Premier Fahie argued that the Opposition recognises that there were many things left undone at a time when the territory had limited resources. He further noted that his government is now doing them because the BVI is ‘now coming out of COVID-19’.
“We are trying to make sure that we move to get some of these things done. A lot of them have been done in their districts also. But they will never tell the people of the Virgin Islands that part,” the Premier added.
“So it definitely is not politics. It’s about the people. So I really don’t see how you can get something in the budget based on the constitution, the Financial Management Act as highlighted, as campaign money. That is misleading, that is malicious,” the Premier said.
Meanwhile, although the territory’s leader did not outrightly reject suggestions by Penn that a withdrawal from the consolidated and reserve funds will put the BVI in breach of the fiscal agreement signed between the previous government and the United Kingdom (UK) – the Protocols for Effective Financial Management – he offered assurances that the territory is currently in compliance.
“What I would say is that we are not in breach of the protocol at this time,“ Premier Fahie stated.
To support his argument, Premier Fahie shared that it was his government, upon entering office in 2019, that was able to take the territory out of deficit spending and away from being in breach of the protocols at that time.
The Premier also acknowledged that the territory’s current lack of updated audited financial statements, which put it in breach of the Constitution, was a concern for him. Fahie said the last audited financial statements dated back to 2018.