Secretary Zinke Encourages Expedited Release of $223 Million in Advance Payments to the U.S. Virgin Islands

Follows President Trump’s Approval of Disaster Declaration in the Territo

Last edited 9/13/2017

Date: September 8, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today announced that Interior will be expediting the rum-cover over advance payment of $223,925,000 for estimated FY 2018 collections in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump approved and signed a disaster declaration for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which unlocks emergency federal funding for those affected by Hurricane Irma.

"These funds will be critical to operations in the USVI as the Governor and emergency teams work to recover from the impacts of Hurricane Irma,” said Secretary Zinke. “The people of the U.S.VI will need all the support they can get.”

Adjustments are calculated based upon amounts advanced from rum excise taxes derived from the USVI and collected by the federal government under the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands (48 USC 1541). Under current law, any excise tax collected on USVI manufactured rum imported into the United States is transferred to or “covered-over” to the USVI. The USVI Government submits its advance estimate of rum excise taxes to the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs on an annual basis so that payment can be made in September of each fiscal year.

Certified rum payments covered over to the USVI in 2016 totaled $231,498,711. A similar advance payment of $202,725,000 was made to the USVI in September of last year for fiscal year 2017.

The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. The Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) executes these responsibilities. OIA’s mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.