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Premier promises to look into increased port fees amidst public backlash. He says a more "Amicable" way forward coming

Premier promises to look into increased port fees amidst public backlash. He says a more "Amicable" way forward coming

Premier of the Virgin Islands and Minister for Finance, Honorable Andrew A. Fahie has promised a more peaceful resolve regarding the recent, exorbitant increase in fees announced by the BVI Ports Authority.
Honorable Fahie’s whatsapp blast stated “your Government has and will always be about solutions in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands and it will not change especially dealing with this BVIPA fees issue. Please be advised that plenty consultation with many stakeholders and the Government are ongoing behind the scenes.”

“As a result a more amicable way forward will be announced next week so stay tune. I really thank everyone who has and continue to express genuine concerns. Your concerns are our concerns. We’re in this TOGETHER with BVILOVE,” the Premier later added.

The fee adjustments which were initially announced in January, came into effect March 1st resulting in increases of up to 400%. This was met with territory-wide public outcry as many businesses are facing financial constraints and struggling to stay open in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also adding to the conversation are consumers who are fearful of how this will affect cost of living in an economy where inflation is at an all time high.

One resident said “We elect government officials to look out for our best interest but right now l am afraid that l don’t feel that the people of the BVI are being considered. Yes money is scarce and l am sure that our government is seeing huge deficits due to the lack of tourism revenue. They must however put the interest of people first, capital projects are great and they are monuments politicians can point to and feel proud of their accomplishments, but when your people are looking at their income and trying to figure out which bills go unpaid this month so they can buy some corned beef and tuna fish to feed their children, you have a problem.”

The resident continued “People in these islands are suffering, we love this country but pretty soon only millionaires will be able to live here. Your people can’t take anymore, $6.00 an hour just is not making it when employers are beating the system by only hiring people to work part-time so they don’t have to give them any benefits.”

Acting Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority, Oleavine Maynard has since said that the increases were necessary for the Port to upgrade it’s facility to international standards.

“Security has to be up, cameras have to be up and we have to do a lot of upgrades. Nothing has been done at the BVIPA for quite a while and with the audit coming, we found ourselves scrambling in the midst of COVID to get all of these upgrades done. Where is the money coming from? We cannot close down. How would you get your food?”, Mrs. Maynard said in trying justify the Ports’ decisions.

However, this was proceeded by further public backlash as one resident posting “BVI Port Authority purchased a piece of land in Virgin Gorda some months ago, for expansion. We forget so easily. We were upset because it was an unnecessary buy at this time. A $2 million dollar piece of land. $1.5 million has already been paid and the final $500k was to be paid today. YET, here the BVI Port Authority is, trying to convince us, that they are hiking up fees because they need money, they don’t want to lay off staff, they need to be up to date internationally?

Many residents are fearful of far-reaching implications this will have on business, which can further plummet the economy in light of Tourism, a key contributor, being brought to a halt as a result of the pandemic.

Increased importation fees will lead to significant increases in the cost for good and services. According to experts, Gas prices are projected to rise to $5 per gallon within a few days.

In light of the Premier’s new stance, the public is hoping that the BVIPA will revise its recent decision.

Tune in to 284 Media on Tuesday at 11:30am as Jovan Wilson interviews the Acting Managing Director of BVIPA, Oleavine Maynard on the way forward.
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