President Bill Clinton's budget released Monday contains no immediate money for physical improvements in the Virgin Islands, but $1 million for fiscal reforms.
In a written statement, V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christian-Christensen announced that the president's 2001 budget "includes $10 million for the Virgin Islands to address critical infrastructure needs."
She touted the appropriation as "direct federal assistance to enable us to fix the problems of our dilapidated schools and our worsening sewage treatment facilities."
However, in a separate press release Monday, the Interior Department's Office of Insular Affairs made it clear that the $10 million figure is "an advance appropriation" that will become available to the Virgin Islands in 2002 – "upon certification by the Secretary (of Interior) that there is substantial compliance with the performance standards" that Interior has demanded the V.I. put in place to clean up its fiscal mess.
Both Interior and the delegate note that the Virgin Islands received $5.4 million last fall after Gov. Charles Turnbull signed a memorandum of understanding with Interior to implement belt-tightening measures in the territory.
Clinton's 2001 budget proposal includes $1 million in the Office of Insular Affairs general technical assistance program to help the V.I. put into place "meaningful fiscal reforms," the Interior release states.
Traditionally, the president's budget for the territories is based on recommendations from Interior, which has oversight for the territories.
A "General Statement" also released Monday by Interior makes reference to "the deteriorating financial condition of the insular governments" that "cannot be ignored and must be addressed by the federal government. If increases in financial assistance are not the solution, then other solutions must be considered so that clear statements of administration policy can be enunciated."