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Sun Dec 20, 2020, 12:28 AM

Virgin Island Senators Reject Bryan's Debt Refinancing Deal

Ten senators of the 33rd Legislature on Tuesday evening rejected Governor Albert Bryan's debt refinancing deal, with some sticking to their stance that the measure was not in the best interest of the territory; some contending that the refinancing, contrary to what was being said, was not certain to go toward saving the Government Employees' Retirement System, while others, including Finance Committee Chairman Kurt Vialet, contended that the deal which would have dissolved the territory's $150 million Debt Service Reserve Fund would affect future generations as it would have deferred payments and place a heavy burden on Virgin Islanders ten years down the road.

Additionally, the strategy used by Mr. Bryan and his surrogates in the buildup to the session to gain support, backfired. The administration had used G.E.R.S.'s impending collapse to gain support, stating in press releases, on radio, online and in ads that if the measure were to fail, retirees would face a 42 percent cut in their annuities come January.

On Tuesday, that approach collapsed, with senators establishing that the system, though in dire need of financial support, would not halve the pensions of retirees in January. G.E.R.S., in a letter addressed to Governor Bryan in May, called for a cash infusion of $195 million or face the prospect of a 42 percent cut in retirees' pension in January 2021. But such an action could only be authorized by the Legislature, and the pension system has since said the cut would not happen in January, though the problem must be addressed in the next two years.

Senators have also proposed other ideas to bolster G.E.R.S. that are expected to get more attention now that Mr. Bryan's debt refinancing deal has failed.

Read more: https://viconsortium.com/vi-politics/virgin-islands-senators-reject-debt-refinancing-bill-in-blow-to-governor-

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