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I COMMEND MR. TARR POR HIS ASSISTANCE, AND MS. TERRY HALPERN
THE ACTING U.S.ATTORNEY FOR THE VIRGIN ISLANDS, WHO PLAYED A DUAL
ROLE IN THE FORMULATION OF THE PLAN, AND MS. JACQUELYN DENNIS, OF
THE LAW ENFORCEMENT PLANNING COMMISSION, WHO WAS CHARGED BY THE
GOVERNOR WITH COORDINATING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PLAN. I COMMEND
ALL THOSE IN THE LOCAL AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WHO PARTICIPATED IN
ITS DEVELOPMENT. IT SEEMS TO ME IT IS A WELL THOUGHT OUT,
LOGICAL, AND COORDINATED APPROACH THAT HAS AN INHERENT
ACCOUNTABILITY PACTOR. THIS WILL BE MOST HELPPOL IN ASSESSING
PROGRESS AND THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PLAN NEXT YEAR.
I WOULD LIKE TO NOTE ALSO THAT IN DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN THE
LOCAL AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, COMMITMENTS WERE MADE BY VARIOUS
PEDERAL AGENCIES TO ASSIST THE VIRGIN ISLANDS WITH CONFISCATED
EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING PATROL BOATS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT, ADDITIONAL
AGENTS, AND RBADY ACCESS TO SURVEILLANCE PLANES. I WOULD
APPRECIATE THE COMMITTEE'S SUPPORT IN EXPEDITING POLLOW-THROUGH
ON THBSB COMMITMENTS. WE DO NOT HAVE A DAY TO LOSE IN ATTACKING
THE DRUG PRODLEX IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS,
ON WATER, THE PRESIDENT'S BUDGET CONTAINED ONLY $ 1.1
MILLION FOR FY 89 POR CONTINUATION OF THE WATER PROGRAM WB
STARTED FIVE YEARS AGO. THIS WAS EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTING.
IMPROVEMENTS THAT NEED TO BE MADE TO THE EXISTING SYSTEM BY 1990
WERE ESTIMATED AT $17 MILLION. DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS $7.3
MILLION IN FEDERAL ASSISTANCE HAS BEEN PROVIDED IN MEETING THIS
TARGET. DESPITE THE DISCREPANCY, THE GOVERNOR FULLY COOPERATED
WITH THE OFFICE OF TERRITORIAL AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS IN
PARING DOWN HIS REQUEST FOR AN AMOUNT, $3 MILLION,
APPEARED TO SUPPORT.
AS THIS COMMITTEE REALIZES, SINCE IT HAS BEEN SUPPORTING
TABSB ANNUAL APPROPRIATIONS, WE CANNOT SUSTAIN A TOURISM BASED
ECONOMY WITHOUT A RELIABLE WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM.
AGAIN, MR. CHAIRMAN, I THANK YOU FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO
TESTIFY AND TAKE PLEASURE IN NOW INTRODUCING THE GOVERNOR OF THE
VIRGIN ISLANDS IMPROVED ECONOMIC CONDITION Mr. MURTHA. Welcome, Governor.
Mr. FARRELLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the generous credit from our venerable delegate. I wish to introduce to the Chair sitting on my left Jacquelyn Dennis who is not only the Executive Director of LEPC, but she was the coordinator of our local Drug Policy Board and thus the lead person on the plan that everyone seems to be in agreement as to what has to be done.
I certainly appreciate the opportunity not only to have met you informally, but to appear formally before this Committee and to say that about a year ago, when I had just three months' experience, I asked the Committee to take note of our sad state of affairs. Our finances were in a deplorable state. We were $80 million in debt. We owed employees $37 million in retroactive salaries. And so, in short, I inherited a mess.
But we were not intimidated by the size and complexity of that mess. We got to work. Sweepingly, we organized our government. We paid off the $80 million deficit, including the $37 million in retroactive pay. We consolidated functions in the executive branch, and I was able to report in September that the territory's economy was healthy and revenues were up. That is the positive side of the picture.
Earlier this year my colleague and the subcommittee chair, Delegate de Lugo, invited me to testify before his subcommittee on the President's budget. There wasn't much to testify about, as it turns out. It was $1.1 million for water distribution, zero for drug interdiction.
I told the Interior Committee and testified before the de Lugo subcommittee that our economy was expanding, tourism was accelerating, the unemployment rate was going down, and we had paid off the accumulated government debt. I will not waste your time, sir, with debating whether our economy is exceptionally strong or to detail the reasons for the elimination of the government debt. But it seems to me that the good guys, as Leo Durocher once said, finish last. Having worked hard, we were rewarded for our hard work by simply being denied any money for drug interdiction and by severely limiting the monies due for our water supply system.
I was astounded, sir, because the Committee report said that the United States insular areas are in a very real sense the Nation's insular borders in the Caribbean and the drug traffickers know this. And they use the Virgin Islands for transshipment of deadly narcotics from other countries to the mainland. And one of the consequences of this activity has been an increase in local drug abuse, and drug related crime has pushed violent crime rates many times higher than we would wish to acknowledge.
VIRGIN ISLANDS DRUG PROGRAM NEEDS And so, Mr. Chairman, I cannot emphasize too strongly that the drug problem in the Virgin Islands is staggering. And it is twofold. The report, as I said, speaks of transshipment, hundreds of miles of shoreline and dozens of beaches where boats can land and have landed with impunity. In one instance, the Coast Guard was called and picked up something like 30 kilos of coke that was being transshipped. Thus, Mr. Chairman, the narcotics flow through our islands and end up, for example, on the streets of the Nation's Capital.
The second aspect of the drug problem is what it does to the Virgin Islands people. When those drugs pass through, the debris from that trade falls on our streets and into the hands of our people. Thus, there is no question that much of our violent crimes are caused by persons who are on drugs or that the escalating number of burglaries and robberies are committed by people trying to support their habit.
The $2.5 million was appropriated by the Government in 1988, with an additional authorization of $1.5 million. And we ask for your intervention inserting the requirement of that disbursement. We have submitted a plan. We have worked hard. The plan was effective. The coordinators of the Federal Government both in the territory and in Washington thought it was well thought out and designed to help us get a handle on the drug problem. I, therefore, repeat, sir without being repetitive, I can't stress too strongly the urgency for the $2.5 million and the additional appropriation for Fiscal Year 1999 of the $1.5 million.
I would also be honest with the Committee and say that the plan will not get rid of narcotics tomorrow, but certainly we have to start somewhere. And the sooner we start, the better.
VIRGIN ISLANDS WATER INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS
I also support, sir, the appropriation by the Committee of the $3.1 million for renovation of water transmission lines. We need not waste your time in detailing the fact that we are encouraging the development of the tourist trade. The tourist trade is develop ing nicely but, of course, it would be inhibited by the lack of an infrastructure item such as water. So, I think that speaks for itself.
We, in response to a request from the Department of the Interior, asked for bare-bones needs of $9.1 million. And when we were told that funding was tight, we reassessed our needs and prepared a drastically reduced funding request for $2.7 million. It is now $1.1 million. So, from $9 million down to $2.7 million down to $1.1 million, all because we showed we are capable of hard work.
So, I suggest, sir, that I was flabbergasted to see $1.1 million to deal with water and the absence of the drug money. And I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you and stake our claim to those sums.
[The statement of Alexander A. Farrelly follows: