Government has decided to inject more than one million taxpayer dollars into the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry’s 2021 recurrent budget and the Premier’s Office’s 2021 Capital Vote.
This is according to a post-Cabinet statement published on February 11, 2021 — the first of its kind made accessible to the public since February 2020.
According to the publication, this latest decision on the Shipping Registry and the Premier’s office stems from a January 27 Cabinet Meeting which confirmed that the government had decided to increase the overall purse of the aforementioned institutions to assist with the development of a new centre.
The statement said: “[Cabinet] approved the establishment of a Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) under the Virgin Islands
Shipping Registry (VISR) and decided to increase the Virgin Islands
Shipping Registry’s 2021 recurrent budget by $595,000 in the requisite sub-heads to cover RCC’s costs [and] to increase the Premier’s Office’s 2021 Capital Vote by $425,000 to cover the establishment and outfitting works for the RCC.”
The funds which total $1,020,000 must now be approved in the House of Assembly via a Schedule of Additional Provision, which Cabinet has decided to introduce at the next available sitting.
Additionally, Cabinet decided to re-assign the state-owned vessel, Vigilant II to the Shipping Registry to lead in search and rescue operations as well as support additional maritime functions.
Some of these functions include marine fire responses, safety patrol and monitoring of territorial waters, maintenance of navigational aids, and marine ambulatory transport between the sister islands and Tortola in conjunction with BVI Health Services Authority.
To ensure these decisions do not conflict with any existing laws governing search and rescue in the BVI, the government also decided to allow for the Premier’s Office to instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to review any existing policy agreements or arrangements to prevent any legal trouble.