Despite promises that Prospect Reef employees would be paid by the end of August, they have still not received payment, as revealed in the House of Assembly last Thursday when Third District Representative Julian Fraser grilled Premier Andrew Fahie on the matter.
“Promise delayed does not mean a promise denied,” replied Mr. Fahie, who said the salaries owed to staff would be paid in the next few weeks. “We promised people that they were going to get a bank in Virgin Gorda by August and it didn’t happen, but we’re in October and I’m sure we’re going to get the bank open. Sometimes we have delays. But a delay even in heaven from God doesn’t mean a denial.”
He went on to describe the background of the delayed payments.
The Prospect Reef Resort Management Company is a shareholding company established by legislation, he explained.
He added that 50 percent of the shares are held by the permanent secretary of the Premier’s Office and the other 50 percent are held by the financial secretary on behalf of the government.
Under the Prospect Reef Management Act of 2005, there is to be a non-executive body that includes a managing director to handle the daily affairs of the company.
When he took office, Mr. Fahie said, he learned that this body had not been reappointed.
“Therefore my government as shareholders are actively making preparations to reappoint a board that would properly advise the shareholders … over how to proceed with a redevelopment of Prospect Reef properties; how to deal with government’s responsibility as shareholders on the Prospect Reef Management Company in accordance with its legal regime; and, most directly, what to do in respect to the debt of the company, its creditors and other matters pertaining to the property,” he said.
These legal restrictions, he said, are the reason for the delayed payments.
“We’re working feverishly to get this done, and also to make some decision on what is best for that Prospect Reef area that will yield dividends for the people of the Virgin Islands and not be a liability,” he said.
The Prospect Reef infrastructure hasn’t been repaired since it was destroyed in Hurricane Irma. Even before then, however, it had fallen into disrepair as the previous government negotiated with a would-be developer whose plans fell through earlier this year amid finger-pointing.