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SENATOR MALONE REPORTS ON IN DOI INVESTMENT CONFERENCE: 6-PACK EXEMPTION/MILITARY BASE OPERATIONS INCLUDED IN M.O.U.
(Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands, September 15, 2003) Legislative Secretary, Senator Shawn-Michael Malone, returned to the territory over the weekend attending the U.S. Interior Department-sponsored Investment Conference. The conference was well attended boasting an alarming 600 registered participants. By far, the Virgin Islands was the best represented of all the Territories and had the most attractive investment package at the conference.
"If there was any government-taxpayer supported travel that was worth spending, it was on this conference," Senator Malone said. "Because legislators have the difficult task of growing this economy and balancing the budget, every Virgin Islands Senator, particularly those of us on the Finance Committee, should have been there to help sell the territory and meet with the numerous investors present. It was an historic unprecedented meeting of its kind for the insular areas of the United States," Senator Malone continued.
"Before leaving to attend the conference, I set out to seek the assistance of the Federal government with unfunded mandates and to include a few initiatives on the list for the Territorial Interagency Working Group to consider as we grapple with our finances and economy. I am pleased to report that our Delegate to Congress, the Honorable Donna M. Christensen, agreed to include in the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between Interior and the Virgin Islands Government, the exemption from the 6-Pack Rule and the push to relocate portions of the Naval and Coast Guard Operations from Puerto Rico to St. Croix," Senator Malone said. "Now, what we must do is apply consistent pressure on Washington to realize these goals. With the help pf Mr. Sam Ebbessen, the Army Secretary for the Virgin Islands, working closely with the Governor, the Delegate and myself, we can realize having permanent military operations a safety (Homeland Security) and economic plus for the Territory," Senator Malone explained.
"As for the six-pack exemption, there is no better time than now to lobby for this as we try to grow our tax base. And since it does not seem likely, by current mood in Washington, that Interior would be willing to propose, on our behalf, funding $65.4 million in unfunded mandates and the forgiveness of the $100 million dollar Hurricane Marilyn debt when the President is asking Congress for $87 billion dollars to fight the war in Iraq. Therefore, by allowing the Virgin Islands to be exempt from the six pack rule and helping us out with permanent military operations, these alone would realize a couple hundred million dollars for the Virgin Islands economy on an annual basis," Senator Malone concluded.
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