Above: Governor John de Jongh at a community meeting last week in St Croix (Photo: OG)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Governor John de Jongh has submitted the US Virgin Islands’ budget for fiscal year 2013, promising that his administration took “extreme care to craft the leanest possible budget.”
De Jongh said the budget addressed the territory’s continuing economic challenges, highlighted by the closure of the HOVENSA oil refinery in St Croix, while maintaining current investments.
“We must make the hard choices that will right our course, no matter how difficult those choices may be,” he said. “I look forward to our continued collaboration in the weeks and months ahead as we embrace our responsibility to lead our community.”
The governor said the sudden closure of the HOVENSA refinery, the territory’s single-largest employer and primary supplier of fuel, dealt a “catastrophic” blow to the USVI.
“[The closure] has been devastating to our territory, and our communities and it requires us to continue to adjust our expectations as we navigate our way forward,” he said.
The loss of the refinery represented an estimated $580 million reduction in direct gross economic output — approximately 13 percent of the gross territorial product.
“Over the last year, and especially since the onset of the Great Recession of 2007, our community has been subject to economic and financial challenges not witnessed in recent decades,” he said. “Our resources have been severely strained, and the near-term options for alleviating these pressures are few.”
The general fund operating budget is based on a net revenue projection of just under $696 million.