by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The National Unity Government in the British Virgin Islands has submitted a proposal for the continued local democratic rule of the British territory to the Rt. Hon. Amanda Milling Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office).
The newly formed government has been working with the Governor-General, His Excellency John Rankin, on addressing the governance concerns outlined in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) Report that recommended the suspension of the constitution of the BVI for at least two years.
“I’m pleased to report on behalf of the Government of National Unity that I have submitted a proposal to the UK Minister for the Overseas Territories, the Rt. Hon. Amanda Milling that sets out our approach to reform that presents a framework for the implementation under continued democratic governance. It represents our commitment to good governance and strengthening our institutions and systems of government. We want to engender a new culture in the handling of the people’s business. I hope Minister Milling and the UK Government will give due consideration to the proposal and not go down the path of direct rule,” said the Hon. Dr Natalio Wheatley, the new Premier of the BVI, during a national address on May 11.
Decisions by the United Kingdom on the recommendations have yet to be made or communicated. Still, Dr Wheatley feels the steps the new government is and will be taking to address the concerns in the COI Report will work in favour of the BVI retaining control of its government.
One primary concern is the access to the ports of the territory, as Oleanvine Maynard, the Managing Director of the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority, was arrested, along with the former Premier Andrew Fahie, on charges of money laundering and drug trafficking that led to their arrest, and their arraignment scheduled for May 25.
“In the meantime, we are proceeding with some immediate reforms that we believe are in the public interest. In regard to the Ports Authority, I have been in communication with the Chairman of the Board, and he has indicated that he will tender his resignation. The term of the remaining members will expire within days, and a new board of suitably qualified persons will be appointed. This decision was not taken lightly. However, given the remaining concerns about security at the ports after the arrest of Managing Director Mrs Oleanvine Maynard and the details of her activities described in the affidavit filed in the US courts, we must refresh the board; so its integrity is beyond reproach.”
Maynard, still the Managing Director, has not been terminated, and Wheatley indicated that the legal and practical issues involved in her termination are under review.
A new board will soon be appointed and tasked with hiring an interim managing director for the Ports Authority.
As it relates to the security at the ports, Wheatley, the Governor-General and the Commissioner of Police are scheduled to meet and discuss the necessary measures to address the security concerns.
Other changes include government appointments; Premier Wheatley said that the same people should not be appointed to multiple statutory boards.
“I’ll be coming back to you soon to share the Government of National Unity’s approach to Statutory Boards because, in several cases, change is urgently needed in terms of their current composition and how we deal with appointments more generally. It is not good practice to have the same person sitting on multiple statutory boards, and we will make the necessary changes in accordance with best practice. I’ll make an announcement shortly on a date and time when you present our comprehensive approach and invite your views,” the Hon. Dr Natalio Wheatley, Premier of the BVI.
See the full address by Premier Wheatley here: