80.3 F
Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesGovernor Concludes Washington Trip with CARICOM Discussion

Governor Concludes Washington Trip with CARICOM Discussion

March 5, 2007 — Wrapping up his trip to Washington, D.C., Gov. John deJongh Jr. discussed the possibility of the territory joining the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).
DeJongh testified before the Inter-Agency Group on Insular Affairs (IGIA) panel and provided testimony to the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, chaired by V.I. Congressional Delegate Donna M. Christensen, according to a Government House news release.
At the IGIA hearing, deJongh offered his thoughts on the Virgin Islands applying for membership in two Caribbean organizations: the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and CARICOM. Other offshore leaders at the hearing echoed similar thoughts on their respective territories becoming a part of an international organization.
The governor's trip included a series of meetings with leaders of Congress and officials of the Bush Administration. The talks came during a week-long stay in Washington D.C. where deJongh also attended the Winter Meeting of the National Governor's Association.
The meetings focused on issues at the Treasury, Education and Agriculture departments and with the Environmental Protection Agency. The discussions allowed him the opportunity to introduce himself to those in Washington that over time have become champions of territorial issues, deJongh said.
"I had the opportunity to meet with representatives, including Jim McCrary of Louisiana; Nick Rahall of West Virginia; Charles Rangel, who chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee; and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer," deJongh said.
The governor also met with U.S. Senators Orin Hatch of Utah, Mike Crapo of Indiana, Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Gordon Smith of Oregon and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.
"These meetings allowed me to state our concerns about several issues, including our relationship with the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service," deJongh said. "We are concerned about the impact the new rules and regulations are having on the EDC program and on individual taxpayers."
The meetings provided good interaction between the policymakers in Washington and the leaders of the V.I. government, he said.
"We outlined our position, and they told us of what's needed to get done to address their concerns," deJongh said. Christiansen joined deJongh at several of the meetings.
The meeting with Sen. Bingaman allowed "both the delegate and I to make the case to get federal property-tax legislation moving," deJongh said. "Our property owners must know what changes are being made to the property tax policy, especially in a year where Virgin Islands property owners will be called on to pay two bills in one 12-month period."
The governor also pointed out the anxiety in the Virgin Islands among property owners that, without corrective legislation, high assessments of properties will lead to residents being unable to pay taxes, which will ultimately result in their property loss.
Some of the local agricultural needs were taken up in deJongh's meeting with Senator Tom Harkin. "We discussed rural development and farmer's assistance, which he was amenable to," DeJongh said. He will pursue a follow-up discussion with Harkin to determine whether funding for specific needs can be included in pending legislation.
The meeting with Environmental Protection Agency zeroed in on some air-quality issues that have been pending between EPA and the V.I. Water and Power Authority, while the status of the third-party fiduciary arrangement with the federal government topped the discussion with representatives of the U.S. Department of Education. A meeting was held with Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Robert Kimmitt to advance talks about the relationship between the Internal Revenue Service and the local government's Bureau of Internal Revenue.
"This meeting was the forum to restate our concerns about the impact of the new rules and regulations on not only the tax-incentive program, EDC, but also the effect that these rules have on V.I. taxpayers," deJongh added.
There were also meetings held at the White House with Maggie Grant, the deputy assistant to the president for insular affairs and at Housing and Urban Development with Director Alphonso Jackson to go over the status of the V.I, Housing Authority, which remains under federal receivership.
The governor returns to the territory this week.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.