ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The National Democratic Party (NDP) Government has been warned against approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for funding to aid the Territory in its recovery efforts following the devastation of Category 5 Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) at a press conference on October 25, 2017 told reporters that when he attended a World Bank meeting in Washington a few weeks ago he did not meet with IMF officials but said he has not ruled out that option.
“Let me put it this way, anything is possible because we have to seek resources needed to continue the rebuild,” Premier Smith had said.
While appearing as a guest on the ZBVI 780 AM talk show, Honestly Speaking, with Claude O. Skelton-Cline on October 31, 2017, Mr Willock, a former Permanent Secretary and Businessman, was asked for his take on Government seeking funding from international lending agencies, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
‘A dangerous path’
Mr Willock made it clear that approaching tho
se two bodies especially for funding is going down “a dangerous path” especially when the history of those two bodies is studied, noting that the IMF has “strangled” many developed countries as well as many oil rich countries in Africa.
According to Mr Willock, the IMF may lend monies with no interest but it is its terms that may be the trouble for the VI. This he said may including having to restructure the economy to balance the budget and sending home a majority of civil servants, which payroll accounts for some 40% of the Government’s annual budget.
“This is something they have done in Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and many other African and developed countries. What this means is that you will resign a percentage of your population to poverty.”
Another condition of the loan, according to Mr Willock, may be “free trade”. This he said will allow for the G7 Countries to have equal rights to come to the Territory to compete for projects, jobs, and “to compete for anything that money is being spent on,” which means local businesses may suffer.
Mr Willock has suggested that the Territory stays away from the IMF and World bank and look to more friendlier countries for loans. The businessman suggested that the VI looks towards the oil rich countries in the middle east for assistance.
It was also suggested that the United Kingdom be approached for “Floating Bonds underwritten by the UK” as, according to Willock, the UK has to do more to assist its Overseas Territory.
Premier Smith has said the Virgin Islands suffered some $3.3B in losses due to Hurricane Irma.
It is unclear if the IMF or World Bank will still be approached, with the news that the [British] Virgin Islands and other UK territories will now be eligible for Official Development Aid (ODA).
On Tuesday, October 31, 2017, the BBC reported that Britain will now be able to spend Official Development Aid (ODA) on the hurricane hit-islands after changes to the international rules agreed in Paris on Monday, October 30, 2017