John deJongh, president of the St. ThomasSt. John Chamber of Commerce, said he's not surprised by the results of the poll taken by the St. Croix Chamber indicating the majority of people polled have no confidence in the V.I. government.
"Not a lot of people in the public or private sector feel comfortable with the way the government is being run, both legislatively and in the executive branch," deJongh said over the weekend.
"But what is disappointing is that people think the federal government is the only means of solving our problems with respect to a federal control board."
The survey results released last week said of the 607 people asked, 56 percent said it's time the federal government take control of the V.I.'s finances in order to solve the economic problems. On St. Croix, the call for federal intervention was 65 percent in favor; on St. Thomas it was 47 percent.
De Jongh, who is also chairman of the Governor's Fiscal Recovery Task Force, thinks the V.I. can solve its own problems.
Noel Loftus, president of the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, said, "People want to see a plan. They're losing confidence and not spending money." But deJongh said the first step is for the Legislature to pass a budget for the new fiscal year.
According to de Jongh, the task force will keep its commitment to present its plan within 90 days of passage of the FY 2000 budget. And, he noted, "Noel (Lofuts) is a member of the task force. He is on several of the committees."
According to de Jongh, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has agreed to implement the plan that the task force develops.
De Jongh said the plan will address restructuring the government to reduce overall costs and increasing revenues.
"But most importantly it will address ways to enhance the growth of the private sector," he said.
De Jongh could not say specifically what measures were being considered, but said he expects to work on details of the plan this week.
"One key component, however, is negotiating with the federal government for complete forgiveness of the community disaster loans" that could cost up to $28 million a year in loan payments.
Editor's note: For more details on the St. Croix chamber's survey click here.