HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
PREMIER OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
CONTRACT SIGNING CEREMONY FOR THE
BALLAST BAY ROAD REHABILITATION & SLOPE STABILISATION,
GREAT MOUNTAIN II ROAD REHABILITATION & SLOPE STABILISATION AND
REPAIR WORK TO ROAD TOWN POLICE STATION
Monday, 5th October 2020
A pleasant good day and God’s blessings to all of you present here today, and to those viewing online, and listening via the radio.
I want to begin first by thanking God for giving us as a Territory the opportunity to rise to every occasion — where no job is too small or too large for us to handle.
It is a good feeling to be standing here this morning for the signing of these contracts.
It means that “We are getting there!”
We continue to be pleased as a Government to renegotiate some of the terms in the Caribbean Development Bank’s Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan when we took office in 2019.
This was important to make sure the people of the Virgin Islands have a stake in the development of their economy.
In the latter part of 2019, the revised Recovery to Development Plan was laid on the table of the House of Assembly without any objections.
The new Revised Plan separates recovery projects from development projects. The recovery matters were assigned to the RDA in order to allow more focus to take place.
The renegotiation was important because it could not be just or fair for this money to pass through the BVI’s economy, and the BVI businesses and workers are pushed to the side and disadvantaged from being able to access the benefits of this cashflow. By successfully renegotiating the terms with the CDB, our BVI workers, and businesses, can get a vitamin boost from this money.
I am pleased that the Recovery and Development Agency, since it has gotten a better focus, with the review of the revised Recovery and Development Plan and renegotiation of the Caribbean Development Bank’s Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (RRL) Loan to ensure more local participation in the building of this economy.
I thank the Recovery Development Agency for doing its part and for continuing to move projects forward, and for not allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the greater good.
BVI companies, executing BVI projects, managed by our BVI RDA which is led by BVI talent, and utilising funds sourced and raised by the BVI at this time where we the BVI people are the ones that must repay the loans raised. Hence the people of the BVI must be given every opportunity to benefit from these funds in an accountable and transparent manner while insuring value for money. This is what your Government has insured through the negotiations with the CDB and other agencies on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands.
We continue to welcome foreign investment as we continue our recovery.
I am happy that the RDA is moving forward and is completing many projects across districts—projects that should have at least started by early 2018, as many of the issues we are addressing now were present from 2017 as a result of the destructions caused by Hurricane Irma and we are taking care of them, now allowing our local contractors the opportunity to drive the construction development of this economy.
As everyone should know by now, it is one of my passions to see our Virgin Islands people rising up to their fullest potential thereby taking charge of their destiny. I am pleased to say with today’s contract signing we are moving there, and we are getting there!
I have confidence in my people of this Territory.
I believe in their capacities and capabilities, and I am pleased that our people continue to rise to the challenge and create portfolio to access the jobs and earn an income.
Like the speakers before me, I congratulate Mr. Dion Stoutt of STO Enterprises; Ms. Dawn Crabbe-Herbert and team from Autland Heavy Equipment Co; and Mr. Kendol Arthur of K and C Construction for rising to the occasion.
As Premier and Minister of Finance, you know it is one of my mantras that the people of the BVI must benefit from the economic activity that takes place here.
I look forward to the ripple effect where people get to truly participate and benefit from the economic activity that is taking place on our shores, especially in the New Regular of living and working with COVID-19 where we are using what we have in our hands to jump start our economy, create jobs and domino opportunities.
I have been saying from Day 1 that we need to get the funds from these projects to circulate more in the economy, we are getting there!
Giving our people a chance – giving them a little push, putting some wind beneath their wings, showing a little bit of confidence in them – is the first step to helping us to correct this situation.
As we have seen, with many of the projects, standards and quality of work are high and done with BVI Pride, and resumes are being strengthened to put our people in positions to even bid externally.
It is a fact that projects can be redesigned to allow local companies to perform within their capabilities while at the same time affording them the chance to learn and to build their resume.
And through monitoring, evaluation, supervision, management, training and learning, we can make sure that we achieve the high standards and deliver value for money to our taxpayers.
We have made this case to the international lending agencies and some of them have given us a hearing.
Lending agencies are now working with us to give this policy shift a chance. We are getting there!
The technical officers in the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works, Transportation and Utilities have put their heads together and they have come up with a framework that will facilitate our local contracting companies in growing so that they will not stay in the same place and at the same level; but on the contrary, they will be able to learn and develop new capabilities so they can qualify for large, more challenging and higher paying projects. The framework will involve training and a continuous improvement programme.
This, will of course, be complementary to other capacity building initiatives that are available and which are taking place.
For instance, I am pleased with the efforts of the RDA in executing its own capacity building mandate. Through various workshops, the RDA provides BVI Contractors with learning opportunities through training, bidder’s conferences, site visits and on the job training to deliver projects, strengthen their capability, bid and win projects based on international public procurement procedures.
This, of course, will go a long way in building up BVI contractors to be prepared for the future BVI economy and to be able to bid, win and deliver projects across the region.
And this is very important. Because the BVI is in transformation mode.
If we learnt anything from our experiences in tourism and financial services over the past few years, and now with COVID-19; we cannot carry on using the same models and methods as we did 5, 10, 25 years ago.
The world has changed. The industries we depend on have changed. New industries have emerged. New technology has emerged. And we cannot allow ourselves to live in the mindset of the past.
We need new industries to create new economic streams. Although in the past there was little effort to diversify, we must do so now and do so with haste and precision.
Green energy and Smart technology present us with some opportunities here, but there is a lot more that we can do if we use our innovativeness and our entrepreneurial eye to survey the landscape.
We need to become more competitive – not just among ourselves but within the region and beyond. Becoming more competitive means we have to be able to do the job and deliver quality within a reasonably good price; and we have to look at how we stand in relation to other providers of the same or similar goods and services.
I spoke about this in relation to our tourism product when we launched the BVILOVE rebranding campaign last week. You would have heard me saying that BVILOVE is our brand that must pervade everything we do.
So, here too in construction, we must work with BVILOVE.
When we understand that these projects, the contracts, the training, the negotiations with international lending agencies, and all the other battles that are being fought on your behalf by your Government, are feeding into a bigger picture, which is to awaken our abilities and strap a booster rocket to the backs of our citizens, so that we propel the citizenry as a collective into a new future – then we will see why these things are not to be taken lightly or for granted. It is then you will understand why we will not relent when setbacks come, but that we will press forward with greater determination.
Some persons may say these are minor things, but we are paying special attention to them because this is how we build our nation. This is how we advance our people. This is how we transform this BVI and realize the dreams of our ancestors.
So, your work has to be a labour of love. Put your all into these projects because you have something to prove – and that is that those who put their necks on the block for you, your companies, and your workers, made the right choice.
When you work with BVILOVE, you are clearing the path ahead for your own company, but you are also leaving a path behind for others to also be lifted up. And when all of this comes together, the Territory benefits socially and economically by us being able to handle projects with local talent.
It is a known fact that the future is for the prepared. And as we embark on the journey of transforming the Virgin Islands into a leading regional economy, and as we march towards becoming more self-reliant, self-determined and less dependent on others, we must first prepare.
We can only cross certain hurdles that lie ahead if we are already first prepared by the time we approach those hurdles.
So, we must continue to develop ourselves, develop our capabilities and our capacity, and then we can discuss what we can and cannot do, or what further preparation is needed.
But, if we sit down and do nothing, just going through the motions and the routines, then we will never start the preparations.
And just like how many major challenging events hit us suddenly, or just how Irma, Maria and COVID-19 turned our reality upside down in a matter of hours, so too we will continue to face challenges – different challenges with more at stake – and we must be ready.
And the price for being unprepared can end up being very high.
So, once again I say, everything we do, we must do with BVILOVE, because our Territory is depending on positive, successful outcomes.
I want to thank and congratulate the team at the RDA, led by Acting CEO Mr. Anthony McMaster, for continuing to support the Government of the Virgin Islands and the Territory in our recovery following the 2017 catastrophic natural disasters, and now as we continue working to reboot and re-energise the local economy in this New Regular under COVID-19.
I also wish to congratulate our local contractors who will be signing here today. Remember, we want these projects delivered with BVILOVE – this means best quality, on time, in budget and value for money.
Your Government, your Premier and indeed the Virgin Islands people believe in you and also we are proud of you.
I am also very pleased that our Police Station will soon be operating from a better working environment.
I am also pleased that the Ballast Bay project is finally, finally, finally being addressed. I remember when granny Ms. Esme Stoutt, my very good friend reminded me when I had just become Premier not to forget her down here in Ballast Bay with this project. Well today, Ms. Esme Stoutt and Teacher Evon Dawson, I know the two matriarchs of the family that are still living, I know that they are listening and I want them to know that your Premier has not forgotten you and the RDA has ensure of that. And I want to thank those two ladies for championing the cause to have this project done because if I meet Ms. Stoutt one of the first things she would tell me is keep praying, the second thing she would ask me is how is the children and the family and the third thing she would say don’t forget me down there in Ballast Bay.
I must mention that while the Ballast Bay project is being done the Windy Hill road will be getting some needed attention by addressing two areas that were washed out on the windy hill road as the Minister for Transportation and his ministry team has allowed the representative of District 2 to be intricately involved in naming two contractors to fix and then pave the road this shows a Government of togetherness after all we are in this together.
May God Almighty watch over you, the contractors and everyone and your workers, every day and every step of the way. And, may He continue to guide the path of the people of these beautiful Virgin Islands.
In BVILOVE, as we continue to fulfill purpose. I thank you.