REMARKS BY FINANCIAL SECRETARY, MR. GLENROY A. FORBES AT THE LAUNCH OF
THE REHABILITATION AND RECONSTRUCTION LOAN- HURRICANE IRMA
TUESDAY, 10TH APRIL, 2018
Honourable Minister of Finance, other Members of Government, Ms. Diana Wilson Patrick, ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome.
It is no secret that in 2017 the BVI experienced a cascading of catastrophic natural events, all in the space of about six weeks, giving its people, its socio-economic and physical infrastructure little to no time for recovery between these events. The impacts to the Territory’s key revenue stimulators and generators were significant, and prudent financial decisions had to be taken to preserve the operations and sustainability of Central Government.
The impact to the Territory’s operational finances was severe, and with the need to manage a recovery process with a view towards future development, it was inevitable that the Government should seek financing through loans, grants, and other permissibly innovative means. It was against this backdrop that the Government of the Virgin Islands approached the Caribbean Development Bank for assistance.
The Caribbean Development Bank is no stranger to the BVI, as it has been a committed partner over the years for rehabilitation, reconstruction, and development projects. The most recent collaboration being the funding provided to rehabilitate the road infrastructure following the 2010 floods which caused widespread damage to public infrastructure, residents and businesses across the Territory.
Given our current needs following the events of 2017, the Bank saw it fit to approve the provision of financing to the tune of $65.3M from two funding streams - $60,291,000 from CDB Ordinary Capital Resources financed at a variable interest rate currently at 3.8% per annum that is repayable over 22 years, and $5,000,000 from CDB Special Funding Resources financed at a fixed rate of 1% per annum, repayable over 20 years. Both components have a grace period on repayment of principle of 5 years.
The Loan has five primary components:
- Infrastructure Works
- Equipment, Tools, Materials, and Supplies
- Design and Engineering Services
- Institutional Strengthening, and
- Project Management
CDB has also provided a Grant to GOVI in the amount of $300,000 for Climate Risk Vulnerability Assessments in four sectors of Ports, Buildings, Water Systems and Roads and Coastal Defences.
Ladies and gentlemen, this loan package comes at a pivotal moment in the life of this Territory for several reasons. I would like to highlight two of these reasons. First, and foremost, it provides a springboard on which the Government can begin restoring the systems and infrastructure that will immediately improve the livelihood of the people of this Territory and rejuvenate the business and legal environments. Secondly, this loan also represents the first tranche of significant financing directly focused on projects and initiatives identified in the draft Recovery and Development Plan.
This Loan Project is unique in its scope as it is multi-sectoral, having components that touch several disciplines and sectors in the Territory, ranging from physical infrastructure projects to social interventions such as psychosocial support to children and adults. Proper coordination, management, execution, and monitoring of the outputs and outcomes of the Project is therefore key to its success. The Ministry of Finance has, therefore, committed to ensuring effective and streamlined systems, and that the right personnel are in place to manage the execution of this Loan Project; systems that will ensure the loan is being used for the purpose for which it was intended in a transparent and responsible manner.
As Financial Secretary, the Minister of Finance has given me the mandate to manage the finances of the public purse. By extension, the parties to this pivotal loan have entrusted me with the great responsibility and opportunity to manage these funds, and to help restore the financial viability of Government’s core systems and functions, and the infrastructure of this Territory. Ladies and gentlemen, I take this task very seriously and I intend to do so in accordance with the applicable Laws of the Virgin Islands and pursuant to CDB’s procurement rules. This is only achievable with the unstinting support and assistance of the staff of the Ministry of Finance and the wider Public Service. Of course, all will agree that the cooperation and collaboration provided by our partners at the Caribbean Development Bank is indispensable at this time.
Mr. Chairman, today marks the beginning of a new era in the recovery and redevelopment of our Territory in that CDB has provided us with the much needed seed money to kick-start the process that promises to restore our economy to some level of functionality. We move forward with hope and great enthusiasm in doing whatever it takes to rebuild our country stronger, smarter, greener, better, more resilient and sustainable.