The lists, which reportedly began circulating days ago on social media, allegedly show the names of beneficiaries and amounts they received from government’s COVID-19 Fishing and Farming initiative doled out last year.
However, in a message posted to his Facebook page Wednesday evening, Premier Fahie questioned the authenticity of the documents and suggested names on the lists were “inaccurate and incomplete”.
He did not, however, choose to categorise the lists as “fake news” as he often does in seeking to dismiss unsavoury information about his government.
The two documents show persons receiving amounts ranging from $4,500 to as high as $22,500. It further details fisherfolk getting amounts largely in the sum of $9,000, $15,000 and $20,000 while farmers allegedly received amounts largely totalling $13,500 or $22,500.
When combined, the total amount allegedly paid out between the two lists comes in at over $3.2 million.
Meanwhile, many members of the community have responded with outrage on social media at the contents of the lists, suggesting that many of the persons listed are not actually farmers or fishermen.
Fahie, who is also the Finance Minister, said the lists raise a red flag and are being examined for discrepancies.
“The authenticity of this list is being examined as discrepancies have already been identified by the requisite authorities, which raises a major red flag,” the Premier said.
The Premier said that, upon completion of a review of the entire matter, further information will be made available.
According to the Premier: “The Government of the Virgin Islands continues to assist numerous persons and businesses during this ongoing global pandemic transparently and prudently that will withstand the test of time.”
Meanwhile, in a statement issued in March last year, Agriculture Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley said $2 million had been set aside to stimulate local food production and assist fisherfolk in the British Virgin Islands.
At the time, Dr Wheatley said the funding would be used for supplies “necessary to get our fisherfolk back in the water” and “to purchase the needed supplies to get our farmers back on their grounds”.
“Access to this funding means that we will ramp up production and provide the local market with the food necessary to sustain ourselves in this Virgin Islands economy,” Dr Wheatley explained at the time.
Dr Wheatley, who is also the Deputy Premier, then invited ‘full-time commercial fishers and farmers’ to contact the Department of Agriculture to register for the programme.