STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
DURING THE SEVENTH SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Thursday, 17th October, 2019
Establishment of the Virgin Islands Recovery Steering Group
Mr. Speaker, accelerating recovery is very important to your Government.
As I have said in my update on the official visit to the United Kingdom to discuss the conditions around the loan guarantee, the people of the Virgin Islands, in a transparent and accountable manner, must be the main beneficiaries of the recovery agenda.
In creating the revised Recovery to Development Plan, Cabinet has approved the establishment of the Recovery Steering Group under the Premier’s Office to serve as the central coordinating body to guide the Territory’s recovery and development as set out in the revised Recovery to Development Plan.
Mr. Speaker, let me give this Honourable House a brief background of why this approach was taken and made.
In October 2017, Cabinet established the Disaster Recovery Coordination Committee (DRCC) with the mandate to coordinate the Territory’s recovery following the unprecedented trio of disasters consisting of massive floods and two category 5 hurricanes in August and September 2017, respectively. The DRCC went on to lead in the creation of the Recovery to Development Plan (RDP) and provided guidance on the institutional and operational arrangements for the advancement of the recovery. In April 2018, the Recovery and Development Agency Act, 2018 was passed into law to legally establish the Recovery and Development Agency whose mandate is to ensure the timely and proper implementation of the Recovery and Development Plan which was subsequently approved by the House of Assembly.
Responsibility for recovery rests with the Premier and his Ministry and the RDA serves as the Government’s executing agency for the independent implementation of the RDP in collaboration with the Ministries, Departments, Statutory Bodies and other stakeholders.
The magnitude of the recovery and the corresponding coordination and management required at the Ministry level places a heavy burden on the Ministries who remain responsible for policy and carrying out the day to day operations of Government.
Additionally, Ministries are charged with implementing massive changes and reforms outlined in the Territory’s Public Service Transformation Programme.
There is a significant opportunity to merge the objectives of recovery and reform to help the Government establish a new platform for the future development of the Territory but Ministries will require guidance, support and assistance to capitalise on this significant opportunity.
The Recovery Steering Group is being established to support the Premier’s responsibility for recovery, guide the Territory’s recovery as set out in the revised Recovery to Development Plan, in keeping with the mandate of the new administration, support Ministries with their recovery deliverables, ensure that Ministries work effectively and efficiently with the RDA and assist with facilitating a smooth transition of knowledge and capacity to the Ministries from the RDA at its conclusion.
Very shortly, the following members will be appointed to the Steering Group. The composition is as follows:
- Premier or designate – Chairperson;
- Financial Secretary or designate;
- Permanent Secretary, Premier’s Office or designate;
- Director of Projects, Ministry of Finance;
- Policy and Strategy Advisor, Premier’s Office;
- Member to be appointed by the Premier;
- Member to be appointed by Leader of the Opposition;
- All Permanent Secretaries - ex-officio members of the RSG; and
- Officer from the Premier’s Office – Secretary to the RSG (ex-officio Member)
At a minimum the Recovery Steering Group will meet weekly, receive reports from the RDA and Ministries and provide guidance and support in their respective areas of responsibility in the following areas:
a) Project Coordination with Ministries on the delivery of the revised Plan: support Ministries with the preparatory work related to recovery projects, programmes and policy initiatives;
b) Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Recovery: support the establishment of an effective system to track progress on Territory-wide recovery activities across sectors and stakeholders, identify bottlenecks and suggest corrective actions to deliver recovery results.
c) Facilitating access to Financing for Recovery: enable access to financial resources available locally, regionally and internationally, to execute recovery projects;
d) Guide Policy Analysis and Institutional Development: assist Ministries with the policy and institutional framework needed to support stronger, more efficient and more resilient government;
e) Guide Communication and Advocacy for Change within the Public Service and in the community: Help Ministries with education and awareness related to recovery matters;
f) Manage Stakeholder Communication and Engagement: help Ministries build partnerships with various stakeholders in the delivery of the recovery;
g) Liaise with the RDA: serve as Government’s central liaison to the RDA, along with the Recovery team in the Premier’s Office, to ensure that the Government’s plan, priorities and initiatives properly inform RDA’s work and support the Business Cases for projects;
h) Guide the transition to the National Sustainable Development Plan: Support in bridging the gap between the development steer of the Plan and developing the full National Sustainable Development Strategy.
Additionally, the Recovery Steering Group will be charged with issuing regular updates to Cabinet through the Premier and will hold regular meetings with the RDA to ensure that its operations and execution of projects are aligned with the revised Plan and the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act 2018.
My Government now looks forward to the start of this central coordinating body and focal point to drive and guide both recovery and the development of the Territory as detailed in the revised Recovery to Development Plan.