Road Town, Tortola - Minister for Communications and Works, Honourable Julian Fraser RA, has solicited the support of Rotarians in the territory as Government continues the important work of developing the Territory's infrastructure.

He issued the call as he addressed the Rotary Club Sunrise of Road Town at Maria's By The Sea Hotel Restaurant on Tuesday morning, on the topic: "The Importance of the Territory's Infrastructure to the Economic Development of the Virgin Islands". He looked specifically at the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function - water supply, sewerage systems, the electrical supply grid, airports, building safety and occupancy, telecommunications, transportation, and the roads and bridges network - all subjects in his portfolio.

Hon. Fraser said the Administration of Premier Hon. Ralph T. O'Neal has embarked on several road infrastructure improvement projects to ensure safety, convenience and maintenance of access for all road users. "This we know is a tall order, so in walking the walk, this Government has made sure over sixty five million dollars has been pumped into the economy through the signing of a number of contracts with local contractors within the past two years," he stated. "When we talk about economic development, this is the bottom line: creating and sustaining jobs in order for our people to maintain a comfortable standard of living".

The Minister for Communications and Works also announced plans to realign the road from the Wickham's Cay roundabout to Sea View Hotel and relocate the access to Wickham's Cay II.

Regarding water and sewerage, Hon. Fraser said Government is in the middle of intense deliberations with a view to rectifying the Territory's water and sewerage situation.

Touching on telecommunications, he noted that the liberalization of this market has significantly and positively impacted the economic growth of this community. He pointed out that people are enjoying the benefits of competition which has brought the introduction of new features, drastically reduced telephone rates, and allowing many more persons to be able to afford these services.

The Minister announced the BVI's hosting of the Innovation for Caribbean Technology Road Show in May. He said the Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Ms. Bernadette Lewis, and her delegation will be visiting the Territory next week to set up an extensive public relations campaign.

"The show will feature a number of activities and events to further promote technology and thereby stimulate the economic development of the Territory," he told the Rotarians. "The BVI has already seen the potential for huge benefits from this 23 nation stop Road Show, as we have already embarked upon exploring the possibilities of hosting an Internet Exchange Point, IXP, in the territory, which allow networks to interconnect directly, via the exchange, rather than through one or more third party networks. This will increase the speed of internet traffic exponentially, with the natural benefit being a reduction in cost and increased productivity".

The Communications and Works Minister referred to the work of the BVI Electricity Corporation to put disaster management plans in place and measures to help consumers lower their energy consumption.

In addition to a new bill format launched last year to empower customers with the necessary information to make educated decisions on how to use electricity more efficiently, the Corporation also began introducing the Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) system as part of the process of generating bills. This will replace the need for persons to manually go out and read meters and eliminate human error, significantly improve efficiencies, reduce the overall operational cost of the function in the long term, and improve customer confidence in the meter reading system.

"Rotarians, you are among the key members of this community and this Government is depending on you for your support," Hon. Fraser concluded. "Together we shall work to develop both the economy and the infrastructure of the Virgin Islands".

At the end of his presentation, the Minister responded to questions on topics ranging from the expansion of the T. B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, traffic lights and parking in Road Town, to developments on Anegada.

Minister Fraser was accompanied to the Rotary meeting by his Acting Permanent Secretary, Mr. Julian Willock; Private Secretary, Ms. Gloria Mactavious; and Information Officer in the Ministry, Ms. Natasha Lettsome.

He will address a breakfast meeting of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association BVICCHA at The Moorings on Thursday.