Published: Apr 23, 2024

ST. THOMAS – The 35th Legislature of the Virgin Islands, led by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr. held a press conference to address the State of Emergency announced by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. concerning the financial status of WAPA, and the collective balance of approximately $11 million owed to WAPA by the territory’s hospitals and the Waste Management Authority.  

At today’s press conference, Senate President Novelle E. Francis stated that the Senate has worked collaboratively with the administration of Governor Albert Bryan Jr. to ensure that WAPA continues to operate without outages that are disruptive to residents, businesses, and the economy. According to Senate President Francis, in the past 5 years, the Senate has met multiple times to address WAPA’s chronic cash shortfall. Recently, Governor Albert Bryan pledged $4 Million to WAPA’s fuel suppliers to bring an end to rotating power outages in the territory. In April 2023, the Legislature approved $45 Million to WAPA for the buyout of VITOL and the acquisition of the LPG Facilities.  

Francis stated that as the holder of the territory’s purse strings, the legislature must exercise its fiscal responsibility and should be good stewards with its limited financial resources. Chair of the Budget, Appropriations and Finance Committee Donna Frett-Gregory stated that any decision to pay WAPA’s obligations from the General Fund should be made with full participation from the Legislature. Frett-Gregory stated that the Executive Order had left many questions unanswered. Senate President Francis stated that while he completely understood the devastating consequences if measures are not taken to keep WAPA solvent, he stated that what was missing from the matter was accountability. An emergency hearing of the Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance will be held on April 24, 2024 to consider the issues, as well as a Special Legislative Session on April 25, 2024.  

Senators present at today’s press conference were Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Marvin A. Blyden, Samuel Carrión, Dwayne M. DeGraff, Ray Fonseca, Alma Francis Heyliger, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Kenneth L. Gittens, Marise C. James, Franklin D. Johnson, Carla J. Joseph, Milton E. Potter.  

The Division of Public Affairs is committed to providing the community with accurate information on proceedings at the Legislature of the Virgin Islands. Visit legvi.org. 


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