Minister for Social Development Hon. Marlon Penn rose during debates on the Internal Audit Department’s Report on the Government’s Assistance Grants Programmes (January 2019 – May 2023) to share his concerns surrounding the source of funds used to support the programmes’ expenses, which have been valued at a total of $22,939,333.07.

As he posed the question to the House, he opened for Premier Dr the Honourable Natalio Wheatley to provide some clarity.

While he acknowledged that such insight and perspective, as provided by the Premier, is important. Penn rose again to express heightened concern surrounding the level of spending that took place.

In this respect, he also reflected on the large amount of money spent by the Premier’s Office alone.

While he noted that a grant fund in the Premier’s Office was not new, as it had existed under administrations predating the Andrew Fahie led VIP Government elected in 2019. Penn stressed that such levels of spending had not been seen previously.

Further, he questioned how the funds allocated to the Premier’s Office’s Assistance Grants Programme  could repeatedly multiply as Virgin Islanders are told that the Government has no money to address important infrastructural works.

He said that the events, as they unfolded, begged the question of whether the Premier was using the Assistance Grants monies as a “slush fund”.

Oxford Dictionary defines a Slush fund is a term typically used to describe a reserve of money used for illicit purposes. It is often associated with acts of political bribery.