The leadership of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration has been described as visionless and one which has failed to prioritize fixing the economy and focusing on the well being of residents.
Opposition Leader Hon. Marlon Penn said there is an urgent need for both an economic and tourism plan, lamenting that the government is too busy spending tax payers' money on political consultants and taking the Attorney General (AG) to court among other unnecessary spending.
Speaking on the National Democratic Party (NDP) radio programme last evening, September 6, he said there is need for a second round of stimulus to keep businesses head above the water during the COVID
“So that stimulus 2.0 is it critical in a time like this. That $3M that we took to put towards paying attorney fees [CoI
defense] is critical in a time like this; that $1M that we claimed that was budgeted for political consultants in a time like this is needed to support our businesses; that money that we are going to spend to sue the Attorney General with this nonsense of a sham needs to be spent towards helping our citizens, helping our businesses and those persons who are hardest hit from this pandemic,” he stressed.
He said the government needs to refocus.
“…The priorities have to be the well being of our economy, well being of our people. We need to refocus and right now we are not focus…we are focused on all the wrong things,” he stated.
The Eighth District Representative said the opposition presented a plan last year which would have seen the tourism industry opened in September, in order to test the territory’s protocols and readiness.
“It boils down to us not having a plan, not having a vision. January we were promised to have a plan for tourism…from May of 2020 the Opposition have been asking this government for a plan. We got tired of asking for a plan,” he stated.
He added, “and people are saying we keep on asking the government for a plan, but we don’t have a plan, but people have to remember that we are the only ones who pulled out a plan in terms of the recovery for this country. In September 2020 was the ideal time of us to start test the waters in terms of getting our tourism industry back up and running, it was early in the game, it gave us an opportunity to test our protocols, firm up our protocols.”
The Opposition Leader said the economy is on life support and businesses cannot thrive under uncertainty.
He said the NDP has a vision to move the economy forward, improve infrastructure, health services and education.
“We have ideas and plans for this country, and we are going to continue to encourage the people of this territory to not be despair. We also want to encourage the government like the caller talked about engagement, don’t just engaged the stakeholders when they make noise, complain, you need to have a constant engagement with the stakeholders, cruise tourism, overnight guests in villas, hotels, and the bareboat industry,” he urged.
Hon. Penn said there must be a plan and a way to work around the pandemic, “but while we are working things out we have to give the support to those industries and those persons who are the hardest hit by this pandemic.”