Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Residents are being asked to exercise patience with the National Democratic Party (NDP) government as concerns mount over economic hardship. This plea came from Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith, as the party approaches the mid term of its second consecutive term in office.
Premier Smith made the plea following concerns raised by Governor John Duncan over the government's apparent trouble with properly prioritizing when it comes to spending.
Yesterday, February 13, Premier Smith said that his government is certain that direct flights to the BVI, and the long term plan of expanding the T.B. Lettsome International Airport, will help to pump money into the economy.
"I want you to have patience with your government as we try to expand the economy, and also provide all the services that this country needs as we continue to build on expanding the economy...We understand the need to expand what we do in tourism, to have that sector contribute more to the economy, and one way to facilitate that is to increase the airlift of the Territory," he said.
Premier Smith said persons need to understand that it is a difficult task for government to juggle the annual budget to satisfy the need of everyone.
"We have many challenges here in the BVI; one of them is being able to do everything that we need to do in a very short time, and that is what government's budget is about, because you have to make a selection of what you can do from year to year, depending on the income that comes into government," he explained.
The Finance Minister said that his government is doing everything it can to avoid over taxing the people.
"...That (income) comes from taxes, and as a government, we understand that it is important that we cannot afford to over tax our people and therefore, we have to be very selective and do the things that are necessary and that can be done year after year."
He said, "And so while it is true that some budgets are not as large as before, it is also true that there is an increasing demand from the government purse because new programmes are being put in place all the time..."
The Premier also assured that all efforts are being made to address several matters raised.
"A few minutes ago Your Excellency the Governor threw some challenges to your government, and many of the things that he mentioned are being worked on...Many of them need to be adequately reviewed and represent the view and requirements of the people of the BVI."
He said, "The Governor mentioned that we are going to be looking at constitutional change, and that is true. I was pleased that in 2007 I was able to lead the drive of the review of the then constitution for the new constitution that we now have. I have again started the process, but that will take some time, just like the other things mentioned."