Greetings and acknowledgements of Ministers, Ministry staff, BVIEC Board Members and staff, Wartsila, Delta, financiers past and present, media…..
I wish to say from the onset, Ladies and Gentlemen, that I am very proud as Minister for Communications and Works, and really, as a citizen of this Territory, that we have come to this point in our development here in the Virgin Islands.
This Phase V Development Programme for the British Virgin Islands Electricity Corporation is indeed a game-changer, Ladies and Gentlemen, and this Government of Premier Dr. Orlando Smith must be commended for making this happen today.
From the 1950’s to this year 2015 - over 60 years, our Territory has grown by leaps and bounds and with an increase in our population, came an increase in demand for electrical energy.
You may have heard or can refer to the event programme, for the chronology of developments in terms of Government’s record, of making sure that the infrastructure is in place, to meet the power requirements for these islands.
Premier, in giving me the portfolio responsible for major infrastructural programmes in the Territory, I want you to be comforted in knowing that I appreciate the confidence that you put in me as Minister and in the other Ministers in the Cabinet.
I also appreciate the pressure from our Backbenchers as we sit in Caucus working to ensure that the infrastructural development of this Territory is looked after.
We consider it not just important for us as residents of the Territory, but also important for the development and growth of the economy from various perspectives.
In this case, the Premier, the Honourable Dr. D. Orlando Smith, I can’t count the number of times he has summoned me into his office to ensure that we have the infrastructure right in different areas, as he is aware and countless times, makes me aware, that our tourism, financial services and all of our economy, depends on a better infrastructure.
He emphasizes to me that sewerage is important. We cannot welcome visitors to the Territory and we cannot live here if we do not improve our sewerage system.
He emphasizes to me that water needs to be available at all times.
Recently, especially in the last year, he has been very adamant about improving our roads.
He has called me in many times to discuss how we can improve the electricity supply in the Territory, not only for now but in the future.
You have seen us working on the port development and improving the Capital of the Virgin Islands, Road Town and many other areas that we must improve in order to provide a better infrastructure for the Territory.
These are all important aspects of providing a better Territory for us as residents and for our visitors.
So, when you hear or when you are put in fear that this Government is borrowing $100 million in one Ministry to improve the infrastructure of the Territory, I want you to understand that this Government is doing the right thing for the right development for the right future for the Territory of the Virgin Islands.
But I want you to know that the $100 million is more than that. We are spending approximately $15m on sewerage, approximately $5m on water, $40m between the CDB Programme and the recent roads programme, we are about to invest here about $37m in electricity generating power and before we finish with the cruise pier development and the improvements to the City and historical sites, we would have spent about $60 million.
So the $100m is not $100m; it is $157m for infrastructural development in the Territory, as the Government of Dr. D. Orlando Smith tries to improve the Territory of the Virgin Islands for the people of the Virgin Islands.
This is very important and as we speak and embark on this very important aspect of our infrastructural development, I want to commend the Corporation for its hard work over the last couple of years and for what they have done to bring us to this point.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this Government decided that we were not going to leave office before we put our clear stamp on improving and moving forward with Renewable Energy for the Territory of the Virgin Islands.
So it was not by happenstance that last week, the House of Assembly approved an amendment to the BVI Electricity Corporation Ordinance to allow for persons in the Territory, corporations, businesses, to be able to provide renewable energy by wind, solar or other means.
This Government did that.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want you to know that this Corporation is working very hard and they hoped to deliver it this time, but we were a bit nervous about going into a different type of energy for the new engines.
But I know they are preparing for the next phase to be able to deliver better and cleaner energy to cater to the renewable thrust for this Territory.
So they have been given a mandate that over the next ten years, 30% of our energy provided by the Corporation should come from renewable energy.
We are pleased as a Government to be able to stand here today as we arrive at this stage and we are very excited and anxious to see the Corporation deliver Phase V.
But you know Ladies and Gentlemen, when you talk about Phase V, when you talk about $37 million, when you talk about this development, you are talking about adding $37m, close to $40m over the next 18 months or so, to the Gross Domestic Product or GDP of the Territory of the Virgin Islands.
This means that over the next 18 months, money will be spent here on jobs, on hope and a great future for the people of these Virgin Islands.
In the next couple of weeks, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will see hi macs, bulldozers, trucks and so on moving dirt from this area to transport it elsewhere, providing work for the people of the Territory.
The people will be working under this Government.
Then, Ladies and Gentlemen, soon after that, you will see an addition to that building going up. More work for the people of the Virgin Islands.
We are glad to be able to provide that $37m to be added to the Gross Domestic Product of the Virgin Islands.
So it fits within our programme.
I want to congratulate Wartsila for being awarded the contract to undertake this another major project for us here in the Virgin Islands.
We know, based on the engines that we have already, that you have delivered in the past and we are very comfortable that you will deliver at this time.
We want to also thank the Premier and my other Members of Cabinet and from the Caucus, for supporting this initiative.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to apologize to the residential and business community as we may have given you some inconvenience in the past. There will be more inconveniences, but we want you to bear with us as we seek to improve the supply of electricity to the Territory of the Virgin Islands.
Ladies and Gentlemen, better days are ahead for us here in the Virgin Islands and I am pleased to be a part of this ceremony here today.
Thank you very much.