Fraser was at the time contributing to the debate in the House of Assembly (HOA) on the government’s intention to create additional funding areas for revenues collected from the controversial money services levy.
When the fund was initially created under the administration of former Premier Andrew Fahie, the senior citizens’ programme was listed as one of the areas that would benefit.
But even as the programme was listed once more as Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley announced new areas earmarked for funding, Fraser was in disagreement that any additional funding would find its way to senior citizens.
“I remember when the Ministry of Finance was here, the Premier mentioned that certain funds would go towards the senior citizens’ programme and it should enhance the programme and I said to the Premier that I can bet him that whatever the senior citizens’ programme budget was or is, it’s not going to change,” Fraser said.
He continued: “The money will go there, but it wouldn’t be additional money. Somehow the Ministry of Finance will find a way to reduce the monies that they are putting in now to keep the senior citizen programme as it is – which is as it is, at a deficit and needs a lot to be desired.”
But Premier Wheatley was insistent that this would not be the case, arguing instead that he would “make sure it goes where it’s supposed to go”.
“Well, I was way ahead of you Leader of the Opposition,” Premier Wheatley stated. “And we also made some changes in terms of how the money is to be accessed, and yours truly, the Minister of Finance, is the one responsible for directing this one.”
Premier Wheatley said he wanted to make it clear while he understood the concerns made by technocrats in the government, he has a job in serving the interests of the people of the BVI.
“Just like the Leader of the Opposition, I see the bush that’s overhanging the sidewalk, sometimes covers the sidewalks completely. I see the need for the after-school programme, I see the need for funding for the athletes. All of those concerns come to me, just like they come to him,” the Premier said.
Premier Wheatley said he will not shy away from his task and noted that when elected officials put initiatives in place to help the people, they cannot tolerate the people’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations being frustrated in any way.
“The Leader of the Opposition and I will speak about three to six months from now, and then he’ll say what he has to say to me, and I’ll say what I have to say to him,” Dr Wheatley said.
“Either he’ll tell me I told you so or I’ll tell him I told you so,” he continued. “But I’m a very stubborn fellow when I’m ready and this is something that I’m going to see through. This money will be put to good use to the intended purpose and it will be in addition to what is already and regularly budgeted.”