Revenues collected are not sufficient to fund government priorities

Prime Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley

Prime Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley has said the revenue collected by the government is currently insufficient to cover its priorities.

He suggested that the government should explore new, more aggressive forms of revenue generation.

“It means diversifying the economy, it means strengthening the tourism sector, it means looking for new industries and of course we have been talking about this for a few years now. It’s time to deliver on those promises of a diversified economy,” said Premier Wheatley.

The previous Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government led by Andrew Fahie had proposed a number of revenue generating initiatives such as the the introduction of cannabis legislation, but it never received the assent of then-Governor Augustus Jaspert to become law.

There was also the passage of Gambling and betting law which was set up to facilitate online gambling in BVI among others.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Wheatley announced a litany of expenses the government has faced over the past few years, including repairs to the RT O’Neal administration complex, the Cane Garden Bay sewage system and inmates at immigration, among others.

‘All this money needed to be spent,’ the Prime Minister told the House of Assembly (HOA) yesterday.

He said a conversation needs to take place with the various government ministries and departments to move forward as well as with the people of the BVIs on the amount of needed funds that can be provided in vital and critical areas.

He also noted that attention should be paid to optimizing government revenue collection methods and whether technology can be used to improve this area.

Dr Wheatley said the government also needed to look at its responsibilities and cut unnecessary spending in order to become more effective and efficient.

Potential government bankruptcy

The prime minister also indicated that the government needs to address the issue of pension reform, an issue which he said could likely bankrupt the government in years to come if left unresolved.

He said the country was at a critical juncture given the strain on the territory’s financial services sector, its growing population and growing infrastructure needs.

“We must act now if we are to continue to keep the lights on, so to speak, and to continue to meet our obligations, to continue to employ our hard-working public servants and to continue to provide the public services that people need in these modern Virgin Islands,” the Prime Minister added.

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