by Janeka Simon (VI Consortium) The Auditor General of the British Virgin Islands recently released a series of scathing “value for money” reports, borne out of the recommendations of a recently concluded Commission of Inquiry. The report on the territory’s suite of Assistance Grants programs reveals reckless expenditure of public funds that raises serious questions about transparency, accountability, integrity, and misuse of power in the territory.
According to the report, from 2019 to 2022, the government awarded a total of almost $23 million across three ministries and the House of Assembly. The Premier’s Office, occupied by Andrew Fahie at the time, accounted for 47 percent of the total awards given, while the House of Assembly disbursed 39 percent. That percentage covers disbursements from all 13 parliamentary representatives, including the representative for the 1st District – Andrew Fahie – which then raises the portion of the $23 million handed out directly by Mr. Fahie over the three years.
Despite the vast sums disbursed, there was alarmingly no specific legislation or financial instructions governing the distribution of these grants, the report found. This discrepancy was attributed to the prevailing belief that the funds did not represent a direct government expenditure, and thus the rules governing public finance did not apply. However, even given this belief, no guidelines or controls had been developed to ensure transparency and accountability in the distribution of these grants, resulted in elected officials having unrestrained power to distribute funds as they see fit.