Dec. 15, 2005 — The issuance of up to $8 million in new bonds will mean more money for the territorys health care system.
According to Kenneth Mapp, executive director of the Public Finance Authority, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporations Board of Directors will meet Tuesday to consider the issuance of new Tobacco Settlement Bonds, which will be backed by money received from a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) signed in 1998 between major tobacco companies and various U.S. states and territories.
Under the MSA — signed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull in 2000 — the participating jurisdictions receive cash payments from tobacco companies over a period of 25 years in exchange for exempting the tobacco companies from future legal action.
By law, the proceeds are to be divided among the Health Department and the territory's two hospitals. In 2001 the PFA floated $21.7 million in bonds backed by the U.S. Virgin Islands' share of the settlement money. The bond proceeds were earmarked for improving the territory's health care system.
This year, if approved, 32 percent of the proceeds will go to the Cardiac Care Unit at the Juan F. Luis Hospital on St. Croix, another 32 percent to the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute at the Schneider Regional Medical Complex on St. Thomas, and 36 percent to Department of Health offices in both districts, Mapp said.
When contacted Thursday afternoon, Mapp, who is also vice president and treasurer of the Tobacco Settlement Financing Company, said board members were originally supposed to consider the issuance of up to $7.5 million in new Tobacco Settlement Bonds. "However, due to fluctuation in the market, the V.I. will be receiving a little over $8 million this year," he said.
The meeting of the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporations Board of Directors will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Government House on St. Thomas, according to a press release sent Thursday from the corporations offices.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.