The Virgin Islands is facing troubling times and only a group of serious people can get the job done, according to Hon. Ronnie Skelton, who said getting the Territory back on its feet is a job for his Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM).
Over the weekend, he told a gathering on Virgin Gorda (VG) that having rookies and amateurs to run the government is not a risk the Territory can take at this time.
Skelton, who in the past served as Finance Minister, and who is known as an astute businessman, mentioned the imminent public register; threat of European Union (EU) blacklisting; and the need to push the tourism sector to help cushion revenue losses from the financial services sector.
“These are not the days for amateurs and rookies at the moment ladies and gentlemen. Residents and voters, these are serious issues and others that will keep any leader up at nights, much less the wrong leaders. These are issues that need real solutions in a short time frame.”
“The days when BVI politics were a walk in the park are gone. We are facing difficult times. This country cannot engage its auto pilot anymore. It is no longer about who you like or which party you support. This election is about competence, plain and simple,” he said.
Taking a swing at the National Democratic Party (NDP) Chairman, Hon. Myron Walwyn, Skelton said that leadership is about character, integrity, dignity, honesty, accountability and transparency.
“That is what leadership is all about. The financial stability of this country is at stake.”
He said that the days of spending tax payers’ money wild and acting like drunken sailors are gone.
“We cannot allow this to continue. Look for humble servants, look for substance, look for value, honesty and integrity, accountability and transparency. Look for persons who understand times and seasons, and when to pull back on spending foolishly. It is the only way to get this country back on the right track,” he said.
To this end, Hon. Skelton mentioned increasing the non-taxable portion of salaries from the first $10,000 tax free to the first $15,000 tax free—this will cost government $5M; immediately prioritize a meeting with insurance companies to address escalating insurance premiums; heritage tourism; gaming zone at the pier in Road Town to allow for cruise ships to overnight; and medical tourism, among other initiatives to generate revenue and improve the standard of living.
“I will do everything to reduce government wastage within the first term of our leadership, and if successful, I will implement a 13-month salary for public officers. I didn’t say civil servants, because public officers include civil servants,” he said.
“We have to look at airlift. I am not against an airport expansion. I think we need one, but I am against any attempt which would cripple any attempt to borrow when necessary,” he said.
Hon. Skelton also mentioned that he will give telecom companies one year to get their act together as it relates to providing better internet service.