Ports Authority Still Owes $6M Taken From Sewerage Project

Melissa Edwards, Senior Journalist | 0 Comment
March 12, 2018 7:15 am AST
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
The BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) has so far repaid $2M of the $8M, which was diverted from loan financing approved by the House of Assembly for the East End/Long Look sewerage project, and pumped into the controversial cruise pier and land side development.

Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith was questioned about the repayment at last week’s sitting of the House of Assembly, by Hon. Andrew Fahie, Opposition Leader.

He explained that the payments that have been made are for July 2016-$500,000; September 2016-$500,000; April 2017-$500,000; and September 2017-$500,000.

The Finance Minister said that the repayment has been credited to the Accountant General at Banco Popular.

“The balance is $6M,” Premier Smith said.

The decision to divert the funds came to light in March 2016, when Hon. Fahie claimed that the government had diverted the monies and that it was an illegal financial transaction, since they did not follow the laws of the Financial Management Act.

Prior to the questions raised by Hon. Fahie, in January of that year, Premier Smith said he could not provide the House of Assembly with information as to the origin of the $8M from Central Government, which went to the cruise pier project.

However, after several media reports on the issue, Premier Smith admitted in April 2016 in the House of Assembly, that the monies were indeed diverted from the EE/LL sewerage project to the cruise pier project.

Hon. Fahie had however maintained that only the House of Assembly can approve an amendment to any government loan.

"Only the House of Assembly has the legal authority to approve loans for any government and its purpose."

The Opposition Leader had argued that the House approved a loan to address the sewerage problems on the eastern end of Tortola, but subsequently, without the authority of the House, $8M was removed from that loan and transferred to the cruise pier project. This move, he insisted, was illegal.
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