STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
ON THE RECOVERY DEVELOPMENT WORKING GROUP
Thursday, 15th February, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
Shortly after Hurricane Irma affected the Territory, a Disaster Recovery Coordinating Committee (DRCC) was established to provide oversight and advice on all aspects of the Territory's recovery activities and initiatives following the unprecedented trio of disaster events - floods of August and hurricanes Maria and Irma in September.
Out of this committee came the proposed Recovery and Development priorities for the building our Virgin Islands stronger, smarter, greener, better. As you know since January 24 to date, we have embarked on a series of stakeholder and public meetings in every district to ensure that all of the people of the BVI are contributing to creating a new Virgin Islands for the people of the Virgin Islands. I thank all those who have contributed so far, and I urge all those who have not yet added to the discussion to do so.
Recognising the complex and extensive nature of the activities beyond our current order of business that would be involved in efficiently and effectively implementing our recovery plan, Cabinet on December 21, 2017, approved drafting instructions for the establishment of a Recovery Development Agency to support the Government for exactly this purpose. Its role will be to implement the initiatives identified by the approved plan in accordance with international best practice.
It is worth noting that the plan will only take effect after being approved by the House of Assembly.
Funds received by the BVI for the Recovery Effort, will be held in a trust from which funds can only be disbursed to support the projects and initiatives laid out in the BVI Recovery and Development Plan approved by the House of Assembly.
The Agency will have the responsibility to use the funds from the trust for the British Virgin Islands Recovery and Development effort only, and will by statute be required to report to the public in the most transparent and coherent manner, the activities associated with the agency’s recovery efforts. Such reporting will include accounting for the disbursement of those funds under the implementation of priority activities and initiatives, and the operational costs of the Agency itself.
The Agency’s sole responsibility is to be accountable to all stakeholders for the implementation of the plan through an effective, efficient and transparent process.
This Agency, established through legislation, managed by a board, and supported by a professional support team of technical experts and managers, will be responsible for ensuring that the activities underlying the Recovery and Development Plan are carried out.
The process of establishing the Recovery and Development Agency and the requisite ancillary structures to conform to international best practice such as its independence and a trust to hold assets, is expected to be completed very soon, once the legislation is passed by the House of Assembly.
The Agency will have a limited five to seven year mandate; essentially the life of the plan to be approved by the House of Assembly.
We intend to constitute the Board with individuals, representing a wide cross section of stakeholders within the BVI and some representation from beyond our shores. The multi-stakeholder nature of the Board will allow decisions to be taken in an impartial and transparent manner while preserving the integrity of the Recovery and Development Plan.
On my instruction, a working group has been working through the intricacies that will be required for the Agency to be stood up, through informal gatherings for the past month or so.
We recognise that the recovery presents a monumental opportunity to re-think, re-plan and re-consider the future direction of this Territory. We know from a recovery standpoint that we must build resilience and sustainability into our development across the entire spectrum of our society if we are going to secure a future for our children and ourselves.
In addition to doing the necessary work required for my colleagues and I to have the Recovery and Development Agency constituted, in this interim period and in view of the approaching hurricane season, the working group is assisting ministries with the implementation of the immediate priorities of the recovery effort and the approval of the Recovery Plan.
These efforts include supporting the public consultation process, resource mobilisation (fundraising), donor management, supporting policy development of recovery activities and communications; research related to Agency infrastructure and recovery activities, project management, logistic support, finances and securing office accommodations for the Agency.
The Recovery and Development working group is being ably chaired by Dr. Robert Mathavious.
I expect to be able to come to you in short order to report further on the progress we have made in our efforts to build back our beloved country, and in the meantime urge all to remain BVI STRONG.