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Cruz Bay
Thursday, September 29, 2022


A wide-ranging financial accountability bill will be brought before the Senate Finance Committee on May 10 and 11.
The bill, authored to a large degree by Sen. Lorraine L. Berry, addresses everything from a mandatory balanced budget to mandated attrition to demanding an accounting for the $120 million in funds diverted by the previous administration.
Berry said the bill "addresses virtually every aspect of government operations, inaugurating monitoring procedures of federal and local funds and providing that the Legislature receive status reports of same."
The second part of the bill deals with short-term revenue producers such as the $2.50 head tax, a commuter tax and a cigarette tax — items that Berry said were added by her colleagues.
Berry explained that though attrition was mandated by the early retirement law passed during the Farrelly administration, the measure provided that only half the employees leaving government in a given year could be replaced. Under the proposed bill, the governor would decide who is replaced.
The bill would also make the V.I. Bureau of Audit and Control independent from the
executive branch, something Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt has long advocated.
Berry said the bill sets policy that will reduce the growth of government and increase revenues.
"We can begin to deal with the runaway government with these policies," she said.
All key officials of the government, along with members of the Chamber of Commerce, the insurance industry, the West Indian Co. Ltd. and the Central Labor Council, have been asked to testify at the meetings.
They were originally called for May 3 and 4, but were rescheduled at Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's request to allow time for members of his Cabinet to review the bill, Berry said.

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