The Territory must shift its focus to moving major recovery projects forward and developing a spending plan in order to lessen the blow of suspended refining operations at Limetree Bay Terminals, Senator Kenneth L. Gittens said Monday.
“I know that the layoffs are extremely disheartening,” Senator Gittens said. “We must make every effort to assist displaced workers and the businesses impacted. The reality is that the shutdown of the refinery, temporary or otherwise is out of our hands locally. However, it is in our power to get these pending recovery projects off the ground and to wisely spend the supplemental funding we are getting as a result of the pandemic. We are talking about $6 to $8 billion – more monies than this Territory has ever seen.”
Senator Gittens said he would be speaking with the Administration and his colleagues about developing a spending plan that includes addressing any shortfalls created by the closure of the refinery. The Senator also expressed concerns about continued efforts to consolidate and close schools.
“We have the money to build new schools, yet none of these projects has gotten off the ground as yet,” he noted. “Building new schools and refurbishing our existing schools will create many jobs and be a real investment in our children.”
Following the announcement of the layoffs at Limetree, Senator Gittens reached out the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to alert them of the developments at Limetree and to request new details on the proposed American Jobs Act.
Senator Gittens, the 34th Legislature’s Liaison to the White House, has been attending briefings on the pending legislation, which seeks to rebuild America’s infrastructure.
“A huge part of the American Jobs Act addresses renewable energy and it is very likely that there will be programs to train any Virgin Islanders displaced by the refinery’s shutdown and we need more details as to what is proposed in this area,” Senator Gittens concluded.