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PREMIER HIGHLIGHTS ISSUES IN ADDRESS TO THE TERRITORY

Contact: Joseph Daley – Information Officer II
Telephone: 494-3701 ext. 2076
Email: [email protected]

PREMIER HIGHLIGHTS ISSUES IN ADDRESS TO THE TERRITORY  

Thursday, September 20 – Premier and Minister for Finance and Tourism Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE, revealed several issues of interest to his Government during an update to the Territory on radio and television last evening.

 “It is not a rosy picture at this time but this will not deter us from doing our work to make the situation better,” the Premier said about Government’s current financial situation.
      
As such the Premier said: “We will cut down on the volume of travel and the unnecessary purchase of expensive vehicles. It is my intention to have a detailed report on the finances of the Territory.”  He promised that the related details will be made public once they become available.

The Premier also announced that the construction cost of the new Peebles Hospital development project is forecasted to escalate to between $90 and $100 million by its completion. Based on a recent update from architects on that project, he said, works are four weeks behind schedule.

 “We were promised that the job would be completed in 18 months’ time,” the Premier said. He expressed concerns over a discovery that workmen on the hospital project, who are all foreigners, are not paying payroll taxes: “This matter will have to be dealt with so that there will be a level playing field for all the workers.”
 
The Premier promised to revisit the contents of development agreements for major hotel developments that were signed by the previous administration.

“There are about five of these development agreements and I will be laying a copy of each on the Table of the House of Assembly at the next meeting. I will ensure copies will be made available to members of the public who wish to follow the developments,” the Premier said.

Other issues raised during the 20-minute address included matters related to the BVI Tourist Board and the Petty Contract System. In reference to the Tourist Board, the Premier acknowledged the Board’s important role in marketing the Virgin Islands, but raised doubts about its current finances.
 
“There is no doubt that the financial situation at the Tourist Board is grim and in order to prevent the situation becoming worse I had to put a ban on travelling of employees until I could get a clear picture of the whole situation,” he announced.

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The Premier also used the address to reiterate his appreciation to voters for their strong support during last month’s general elections, and said his administration will represent all the people. The address was the Premier’s first since he was appointed on August 22.

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