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Thursday, September 29, 2022


The news about the territory's fiscal affairs was confusing Monday night.
A Reuter news service report out of Miami quoted Gov. Charles Turnbull as having given out information in a statement Monday about PaineWebber being chosen as the lead underwriter for a $100 million bond issue.
But no statement was issued Monday from Government House.
However, it turns out the governor did issue a statement Friday while he was in New York. It was distributed to mainland news media but not sent to the territory, Turnbull's fiscal policies adviser, Rudolph Krigger Sr., told The Source on Monday night.
Why? Because, Krigger said, reports had reached New York of Sen. David Jones' call for a state of emergency to be declared for the territory due to economic straits.
According to Krigger, who was with the governor in New York, this caused an "uproar in the financial area," and "we were inundated with calls regarding the state of emergency."
He said the governor's statement "was given to Reuters from Friday." He added that it was not distributed in the Virgin Islands "because it dealt with the financial markets. . . because it was a different audience."
Krigger said Ira Mills, Management and Budget director, and Amadeo Francis, Public Finance Authority director of finance and administration, were also in New York with the governor.
He said he could provide The Source a copy of the statement in the morning but did not have one with him at home Monday night.
According to the Reuter story, Turnbull said in his statement that he plans to cut costs, increase revenues and borrow $100 million to cope with the territory's deficit.
Reuter reported that the investment firm of PaineWebber has been chosen as the lead underwriter for the government's proposed bond issue to generate the $100 million.
The news service quoted a spokesman for First Union Capital Markets, the territory's New York-based financial adviser, as saying Turnbull felt that once stopgap measures were in place, he could begin to tackle the government's debts, which exceed $1 billion.
The Miami story quoted the governor as saying in his statement that he plans to "further trim department budgets by 10 percent and reduce the number of government holidays by five" and to raise revenues by securing tax liens, obtaining sale/leaseback financing on government assets, raising fees for services, creating economic development incentives and improving the government's financial management systems.
Krigger said all of this is old news that has been "announced previously" to the local media.
It was not immediately clear how reports of Jones's call for a state of emergency reached the New York financial community. The Source, accessible worldwide, did not carry any stories about it; neither did the Associated Press.
Government House did distribute a release to local media Friday evening that dealt with Turnbull's meetings with fellow governors and President Clinton in St. Louis and with the president's creation of a new interagency group on insular areas.
Turnbull returned to the territory Sunday from New York. He did not stop in Miami, Krigger said.
A media advisory distributed locally from Government House on Monday said the governor will hold a press conference Wednesday.

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