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Four Years Later, BVI Still Negotiating UK Loan Guarantee Offer

Four Years Later, BVI Still Negotiating UK Loan Guarantee Offer

Deputy Premier and Minister for Education Hon. Dr. Natalio 'Sowande' Wheatley has announced that the British Virgin Islands is seemingly still interested in the United Kingdom’s Loan Guarantee offer and negotiations are still underway.

Following the 2017 hurricanes, the UK offered to guarantee a £300 million loan for the territory for hurricane recovery.

Four years later, the loan offer has not been accepted by the territory.

Addressing the matter during the recent 2022 budget debate, the Deputy Premier said: “We haven’t borrowed anything by this administration and that’s okay because we were executing the $65 million loan [From the Caribbean Development Bank] but we have a challenge as it pertains to the loan guarantee because of all of these conditions which were attached to this loan guarantee which are essentially unfavorable for us.”

He continued: “My grandfather who was the first Minister of Finance for this government back in 1978 or so, and we have a legacy of being in control of our own finances as we haven’t received any grant in aid from the UK in over 40 years. So we want to maintain control of our finances and we fought hard for that and that is something that is important to our progress as a people."

The minister further said, "So it doesn’t make sense to me for us to summarily dismiss our concerns about losing our financial autonomy because of a loan guarantee and the conditions attached to a loan guarantee.”

Loan Guarantee Similar To IMF

The Deputy Premier said the loan guarantee could be compared to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“When they give a country a loan they have these conditions that they attach to the loan and then they do what they call structural adjustment and they control who you could hire and who you fire. They control what you allocate in your budget and those things have very deep implications for us as a people and if you study the IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes and the impacts it had on places like Ghana in Africa or Jamaica in the Caribbean and many other places you will realize how dangerous and damaging these conditions are which are attached to these loans and loan guarantees,” he stated.

The Minister further explained: “And we have a challenge with the ratios, we have some financial constraints as a government but you have lots of money sitting down in your reserve fund but you cannot spend that money really because you would go outside of the liquidity ratios; the 25 % liquidity ratios between your reserve fund and your recurrent expenditure. Those things are challenges.”

He said Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie has tried to get some flexibility for the territory and bargained successfully to get some space but more space is needed, he said, referring to the conditions of the loan offer.

“We have been negotiating with the UK on that and of course the regime that was in the UK government at the time we had less success with, but there is a new regime in place there and we are hopeful that we can make some progress in that area.”


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