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Mon Feb 4, 2019, 09:27 AM

USVI Is 'Distressed,' Bryan Says During His First State Of The Territory Address

ST. THOMAS — Governor Albert Bryan delivered his first State of the Territory Address on Monday night, a long anticipated speech as residents and lawmakers alike sought an understanding of how the newly elected governor intends to lead the government, his plans to make the USVI a better place to live, and how he would prioritize the daunting issues the islands face.

The governor wasted no time in laying bare the current state of the U.S. Virgin Islands, describing the territory as being “distressed,” even as there remains a window of opportunity right the ship. He mentioned the benefits the USVI realized through the influx of federal dollars after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which resulted in the growth of the construction industry, and spoke of activity at the Limetree Bay Terminals that has boosted St. Croix.

But, the governor added, “even with the progress in the recovery and the promise of new refinery operations, we are confronted with the truth that our territory is still very much mired in a financial and economic crisis.” Mr. Bryan said he understood the territory’s fiscal conditions before he sought office, and was ready to guide the islands through what he described as “the canyon of challenges ahead.” He then spoke of the briefing he received from former Governor Kenneth Mapp’s financial team. “They revealed to us that the longstanding fiscal problems that plagued our government before the 2017 hurricanes have yet to be resolved,” Mr. Bryan said. “General fund revenues fell drastically after the storms, creating severe cashflow shortages for the Government of the Virgin Islands. Hurricanes Irma and Maria only increased the burden of what was an already growing structural budget deficit. To put the true state of our territory’s financial status into perspective; the Government of the Virgin Islands could not have met its day-to-day expenses over the past 12 months if not for the availability of FEMA community disaster loans.”

The governor continued with his gloomy assessment, and said after having borrowed $212 million from the federal government through the Community Disaster Loan Program (C.D.L.), “unfortunately we can’t borrow anymore.”

Read more: https://viconsortium.com/news-2/usvi-is-distressed-bryan-says-during-first-state-of-the-territory-address/

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