I am especially pleased to be here today to witness the official launching of this initiative that is aimed at improving our infrastructure, both through some selected projects and more importantly through the development of better building practices and strong regulations.
First I would like to thank the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and its staff and make special mention of its former president Dr. Compton Bourne and current president Dr. Warren Smith, whose graciousness have facilitated the events we see unfolding here today.
The CDB is one of our institutions here in the region that has always without failure sought to facilitate the development of the Caribbean region and as West Indians, we are indebted to them for the role that they play in our lives.
I would also like to thank the former Premier of the Virgin Islands the Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE and the former Minister of Communications and Works, Honourable Julian Fraser, RA for the work that they did in getting this assistance from CDB.
This project which is a result of the devastating events of tropical storm Otto is not merely being used to fix some of the damages that the event caused, but it is a springboard to ensure higher standards in building our roads, bridges and retaining walls to ensure the long-term stability of our infrastructure.
We expect that these higher standards should create a safer BVI and a more robust infrastructure, ultimately in resulting medium and long term savings to the taxpayer.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is important to this Government, that our people are able to participate meaningfully in relatively complex projects and as in this case to design and build structures in the Virgin Islands that can resist natural and manmade challenges. As a result of experiences such as this, it will equip our people to compete with their counterparts beyond our shores in complex and sizeable infrastructural projects.
The BVI must continue to look outward for its economic growth, while simultaneously developing ourselves within our borders into an economy of enviable efficiencies and sophistication.
Why is this necessary? It is necessary because beyond our natural endowments of a pristine environment, warm climate and talented people, we possess no natural resources that can be traded beyond our shores. Therefore, our ability to thrive and maintain or even improve on our standard of living, is hinged on our ability to be competitive. We must apply intellectual capital to provide solutions, and to demonstrate a service oriented ethos to those who visit us.
I am also hoping that as a source of relief to many of our tradesmen and apprentices who have been struggling for want of work in recent times, that the opportunities and training provided by this assistance from the CDB will be used as a catalyst for innovation in the construction sector here in the Virgin Islands.
Within the last two decades or so the construction sector has been a significant contributor to our gross domestic product. However, even though this has been the case, it is important that we do not use this as a means as an end to itself, but instead as a means to an end, where at the end of the day this activity has created the basis for economic growth, through the creation of infrastructure that is necessary for strong and sustained economic development.
Today I would like to express again my sincere appreciation to the excellent team at CDB and to wish them the best as they continue to strive to provide for a better Caribbean.
Thank You and God bless these beautiful Virgin Islands.
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