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April 24, 2007

US Virgin Islands in fiscal trouble

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) – Decades of government mismanagement has left the U.S. Virgin Islands mired in red ink, Gov. John deJongh Jr. told a civic group Saturday.

DeJongh, a financial adviser to Caribbean governments and businesses before he became the three–island U.S. territory’s top official in January, said a thorough fiscal review has found that accumulated debt has reached nearly US$3 billion much more than he had anticipated.

"As bad as I imagined the situation to be, what ... I found is far worse. Successive administrations have built a mountain of debt on a house of cards," deJongh told the islands’ League of Women Voters.

DeJongh, who replaced two–term governor Charles Turnbull, said cumulative debt was at unsustainable levels due to years of issuing bond packages to help pay annual operating costs. He accused previous administrations of consistently overlooking the government’s long–term budget outlook.

"For years we’ve accumulated mountains of back pay to our government workers. All the while the government and the workers lived with the fiction that it would all be paid someday and somehow," deJongh said.

DeJongh said fixing the territory’s poor fiscal health had to be given priority and that his administration would not allow unfunded liabilities to compound further.


Word is that DeJongh is taking his time shaping the government and slowly implementing what are sure to be un-popular changes (like taking away government cars). It will be very interesting to see how things play out in the the Virgin Islands.

Posted by: Anthony at May 11, 2007 06:18 PM
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