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OUR ECONOMY IS IN A FREE FALL

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The 1999-2000 selling season is a bust! We have a lot to be concerned. October, November, & December have been very soft to say the least. What does it mean for the Virgin Island economy? Well let me tell you!
Reduced sales translate to lower gross receipt taxes collected by the Government of the Virgin Islands. This means lower revenues projections. Bottom line is that it means it makes all our lives more difficult in the year 2000.
Too many people are already leaving the Islands in search of a better quality of living and better quality of life for themselves and their children.
Businesspeople in the community find themselves hard pressed to find answers to maintain twelve months of expenses with a four to five months season.
Can business survive? With employment opportunities and business opportunities booming on the US Mainland more and more Virgin Islanders are finding that it’s easier to relocate than cope with the inefficiencies of the Virgin Island Government.
We lack the basic essential services that any human being should be entitled to living under the American Flag. We are in crisis and we still don’t seem to grasp the magnitude of the problem at hand.
Do we even have a plan for righting the wrongs in our community? If so please share it with us.
The year 2000 is yet another election year. Another year for the voter to decide in which to make the difficult decisions that need to be made to make a turn around. Having lived here for the last twenty eight years I find it difficult to believe that the majority of voters will take to the polls and voice their disapproval of the current state of affairs.
The economy, education, public safety and health will no doubt take center stage in this year's political circles just as it has in prior years.
Have we made any progress? For to long we have run in circles like a dog chasing it’s own tail. It seem obvious, that the Federal Government would prefer to see Virgin Islanders make the necessary decisions needed to correct the ills of our society, than to step in its self to take over and manage the financial affairs of the Islands. As a businessperson in this community I am concerned at the alarming state of affairs of our tourism driven economy.
The fact that our tourism department is still leaderless is cause for concern. The business community cannot survive with a hotel occupancy averaging 20-30% in the season time. The cost of operating a business in the Virgin Islands is too high and the profit margin to lower to expect business to cover twelve months of expenses with four to five months of business. Have more cruise ships and bigger ships been good for the Virgin Islands? I think somewhere the officials in government have lost touch with reality. After all, have
we not learned, it is not the quantity but the quality of visitors we get that make the real difference. I realize that the current administration has it’s hand full with dealing with a state of affairs in did inherit. Yet the current state of affairs being what it is, decisions must be made weather we like it or not that are in the long tern interest for the good of these Virgin Islands. As a community, we have a great deal of soul searching to do in the next six months. Do we have the guts to make the necessary sacrifices that we have to make in order to carve out a future for our children?
Only we the voter hold the answer. Can we make a responsible decision? We need to ask ourselves the question. The harsh reality of running a small business
in the Virgin Islands is that we need to extend some of the IDC benefits to the real backbone of this community or make the big business pay their fair share.
Stay tuned our adversity may finally be the signal of
the birth of the Republican Party to take center stage
in the year 2000 election. Is a real change coming?
Only we can make it happen if we really want it.
Vinnie Mohanani
St. Thomas

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