ST. THOMAS- Members of the 33rd Legislature led by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr. convened in Special Session at the request of the Governor of the United States Virgin Islands Albert Bryan, Jr., at the Capitol Building on Tuesday and voted to send to the Committee on Finance, Bill No. 33-0458- An Act repealing and replacing Act Nos. 8329 and 8330; amending Title 29 Virgin Islands Code, by repealing chapter 24 in its entirety and replacing it with a new chapter 24; terminating the existence of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Matching Fund Securitization Corporation.Ã¢â‚¬Â Special Session is pursuant to Section 7 (a) of the Revised Organic Act of 1954, as amended for the United States Virgin Islands.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This bill does not accomplish the threshold to protect the people of the Virgin Islands. The legislature is committed to lowering debt service but believes that this bill is not the pathway forward in the manner it is constructed. This is about considering all angles of the legislation that has adverse impacts on generations to come,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Sen. Francis, who proposed the measure at the request of the governor. Ã‚Â Meetings have been held on four separate occasions- August 25th, August 27th, September 17th, and December 8th of this year- as it pertains to the Matching Fund Securitization Corporation.
The legislation, seeks to create as of the date hereof, a new entity named the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Matching Fund Securitization CorporationÃ¢â‚¬Â to (1) acquire all of the Virgin Islands GovernmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rights, title, and interest in the Matching Fund Receipts to be paid to the account of the Government by the United States Treasury during the Transfer Period and the Related Rights, (2) issue Matching Fund Securitization Bonds and the Residual Certificate to pay the purchase price therefore and as otherwise authorized under the act, and (3) direct the Secretary and the United States Department of Interior to pay the Matching Fund Receipts directly into the Deposit Account; approving and ratifying all actions taken pursuant to Act Nos. 8329 and 8330 prior to the date hereof; and ratifying the amendments to the rum company agreements; and for other related purposes.
Rising out of Special Session and into the Committee of the Whole, senators received testimony from representatives of the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority (VIPFA), the Office of Management and Budget, the Virgin Islands Department of Finance, and Capitol Market Advisors, LLC. Testifiers discussed the benefits of repealing and replacing Act Nos. 8329 and 8330. Nathan Simmonds, Director of the Finance and Administration for VIPFA noted that under the revised refinancing transaction, an estimated $226 million represents the lower debt service payments for the Government of the Virgin Islands. Not only do limitations for the annual cost of bonds yield debt service savings but it enables further discussions with investors. Simmonds added that the new transaction also reduces the number of outstanding bonds from $950 million to $818 million and provides savings every year.
The Committee of the Whole dissolved and lawmakers went back into Special Session. Policymakers voted to send the measure to the Committee on Finance for further consideration.