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HomeNewsArchivesY2K LOAN APPROVED 11-4, DESPITE CONCERNS

Y2K LOAN APPROVED 11-4, DESPITE CONCERNS

The 23rd Legislature approved the governor's proposal Friday to sign the Y2K loan agreement negotiated by his predecessor.
The 11-4 vote proved that politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. Voting "no" were four senators who don't often find themselves together on an issue: Lorraine L. Berry, Adelbert M. Bryan, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Alicia "Chucky" Hansen.
The measure ratifies the $32 million loan agreement between the V.I. government, International Business Machines and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico to fund the government’s Year 2000 compliance upgrades.
Friday's session was the second of two days devoted to the Y2K loan in which many senators, including some who voted with the majority, expressed misgivings about it.
"Regardless of our opinions we must now act," said Senate President Vargrave Richards. "The Legislature has a responsibility to consider the measure, correct its flaws and move on."
But Berry said that "if we do the wrong thing today, it will be a boondoggle."
Suggesting a thorough investigation of the problem, Berry said, "We should allow the governor to get a task force in place and work with the Department of the Interior who is willing to work with us."
Ira Mills, acting director of Management and Budget, was asked in Thursday's session if any comparisons were done to show what the Virgin Islands is spending relative to other territories and states.
Mills said the average being spent by the states is $2.7 million, but said comparing the Virgin Islands to states was not valid, according to a release from the Legislature’s Public Affairs Office.
Valentino I. McBean, vice president of Banco Popular, said the V.I. government’s financial and technological condition is in such chaos that you can’t compare it to other places, according to the Independent's report.
After eight hours of testimony Thursday by government officials and representatives of Banco Popular and IBM, many senators were still not satisfied with the plan.
Freshman Sen. Anne Golden of St. Croix said she felt “like I have a gun to my head because we have to act quickly.”
Sen. Adlah “Foncie” Donastorg told the Independent, “We’re cornered. It’s obvious our backs are against the wall.”
Donastorg submitted legislation last spring to create a Y2K task force. The measure was finally passed in October, but the task force was never formed.
Legislators were told Thursday that the new plan would make the whole government Y2K compliant, but the critical areas were the Health Department, hospitals and the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Rudel Molloy, chief information officer of the Juan Luis Hospital, said technical equipment as well as computers at the hospital had to be replaced.
One witness for the administration, Rudolph Krigger, special assistant to the governor on economic and fiscal policy, disclosed that 85 percent of the loan was for assessment.
Several senators wanted to know if there had been sufficient communication between the Schneider and Turnbull administrations to make sure the analysis before them was accurate.
Krigger said the current evaluation team had met with Dean Wallace, information technology officer for the Schneider administration. Molloy was also involved with the previous team from the beginning and was able to describe the procedures followed to establish the territory’s Y2K needs.

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The 23rd Legislature approved the governor's proposal Friday to sign the Y2K loan agreement negotiated by his predecessor.
The 11-4 vote proved that politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. Voting "no" were four senators who don't often find themselves together on an issue: Lorraine L. Berry, Adelbert M. Bryan, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Alicia "Chucky" Hansen.
The measure ratifies the $32 million loan agreement between the V.I. government, International Business Machines and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico to fund the government’s Year 2000 compliance upgrades.
Friday's session was the second of two days devoted to the Y2K loan in which many senators, including some who voted with the majority, expressed misgivings about it.
"Regardless of our opinions we must now act," said Senate President Vargrave Richards. "The Legislature has a responsibility to consider the measure, correct its flaws and move on."
But Berry said that "if we do the wrong thing today, it will be a boondoggle."
Suggesting a thorough investigation of the problem, Berry said, "We should allow the governor to get a task force in place and work with the Department of the Interior who is willing to work with us."
Ira Mills, acting director of Management and Budget, was asked in Thursday's session if any comparisons were done to show what the Virgin Islands is spending relative to other territories and states.
Mills said the average being spent by the states is $2.7 million, but said comparing the Virgin Islands to states was not valid, according to a release from the Legislature’s Public Affairs Office.
Valentino I. McBean, vice president of Banco Popular, said the V.I. government’s financial and technological condition is in such chaos that you can’t compare it to other places, according to the Independent's report.
After eight hours of testimony Thursday by government officials and representatives of Banco Popular and IBM, many senators were still not satisfied with the plan.
Freshman Sen. Anne Golden of St. Croix said she felt “like I have a gun to my head because we have to act quickly.”
Sen. Adlah “Foncie” Donastorg told the Independent, “We’re cornered. It’s obvious our backs are against the wall.”
Donastorg submitted legislation last spring to create a Y2K task force. The measure was finally passed in October, but the task force was never formed.
Legislators were told Thursday that the new plan would make the whole government Y2K compliant, but the critical areas were the Health Department, hospitals and the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Rudel Molloy, chief information officer of the Juan Luis Hospital, said technical equipment as well as computers at the hospital had to be replaced.
One witness for the administration, Rudolph Krigger, special assistant to the governor on economic and fiscal policy, disclosed that 85 percent of the loan was for assessment.
Several senators wanted to know if there had been sufficient communication between the Schneider and Turnbull administrations to make sure the analysis before them was accurate.
Krigger said the current evaluation team had met with Dean Wallace, information technology officer for the Schneider administration. Molloy was also involved with the previous team from the beginning and was able to describe the procedures followed to establish the territory’s Y2K needs.