ROAD TOWN, BVI — The British Virgin Islands marked the 40th anniversary of the end of grant-in-aid from the united Kingdom at a special dinner on 15th December 2018 to commemorate the territory’s success in becoming financially self-sufficient by 1978 and no longer requiring financial assistance from Britain to fund the government’s budget.
Guests gathered for the special occasion, when remarks were made by senior politicians and current and former public servants.
Leader of the opposition Andrew Fahie paid tribute to the late Chief Minister Dr Willard Wheatley and other BVIslanders for their instrumental role in the territory’s advancement, which included the exceptional public management of government between 1971 – 1979 that helped to bring grant-in-aid to an end and to secure the territory’ financial autonomy.
Deputy Governor David Archer hailed the important foundation laid by the territory’s elected leaders and public servants in the initial years of ministerial government in which grant-in-aid ended and the modern BVI was built.
Financial Secretary Glenroy Forbes gave a historical overview of grant-in-aid in the BVI and emphasized the importance of ensuring the territory maintains its financial self-sufficiency that is a pillar of its self-determination.
Former deputy financial secretary, Douglas Wheatley, gave a reflection on the determination of Willard Wheatley to get the BVI off grant-in-aid and out of a deep recession, which resulted in him becoming the territory’s first minister of finance when the finance portfolio was turned over from the governor to the elected government in 1977.
Deputy premier and minister for natural resources and labour, Dr Kedrick Pickering, gave the keynote address in which he praised the steadfast leadership of Dr. Wheatley who guided the territory off grant-in-aid and hailed the blue/green economy as the new economic frontier of the BVI’s development.
Chairman of the End of Grant-in-Aid Celebration Committee, Benito Wheatley, in his remarks said, “The end of grant-in-aid in 1978 was a significant achievement in the history of the BVI. Not simply because it ended the territory’s external dependence on the UK, but because it clearly demonstrated the ability of our people to manage our own financial affairs and upheld the dignity of Virgin Islanders.”