British Virgin Islands, (BVI) – Premier and minister of finance Dr Natalio D. Wheatley said that government is “making good progress” in an update to the public on the status of the ongoing government reform.
Premier Wheatley said the government is “putting structures in place to rapidly advance reform” and has achieved a number of milestones as stipulated in the ‘Framework for Implementation of the Recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) Report and Other Reforms’.
Premier Wheatley said: “Implementation is a work in progress that we must continue to drive forward. We have made tremendous progress on all our commitments, and we are moving in the right direction.”
Wheatley said some of the progress made includes the establishment of an internal steering committee to guide the COI implementation process. The committee is comprised of all five permanent secretaries, the financial secretary, attorney-general and director of strategy in the office of the governor. It is chaired by the permanent secretary in the premier’s office, Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe.
Premier Wheatley also confirmed that government is in the process of establishing a COI Report Implementation Unit, to support the work of implementation in the ministries. The terms of reference for the unit was approved by cabinet on June 15, with the deadline for the unit’s establishment being July 15. The premier affirmed that the UNDP Office in the Territory is supporting efforts in this regard.
Premier Wheatley also reported that government ministries have developed reform implementation plans; quarterly updates from statutory boards have been submitted, and a Reform Committee at the House of Assembly (HOA) has been established with a legislative schedule for implementation circulated to members.
The premier also shared that a panel to review the Scholarship/Education Grants Programme was approved by cabinet on June 29, a draft protocol for the appointment and removal of statutory board members was developed and the Immigration Department is building the capacity of its status unit, in line with Recommendation B29 (the granting of Residency in the Territory).
Another progress milestone is the approval of 16 commissioners for the Constitutional Review Commission on June 30.
The members include chairman Lisa Penn-Lettsome, deputy chairman Janice Stoutt Dr Charles Wheatley, Ronnie W. Skelton, Bernadine Louis, Reverend Dr Melvin A. Turnbull, Dr Benedicta P. T. Samuels, Dr Steve Lennard, Maya Barry, Sendrick Chinnery, Noni Georges, Coy Levons, Rajah A. Smith, Sir Dennis Byron, Tanya Cassie-Parker and Susan Demers.
“I employ each commissioner to carry out their duty with integrity and with a view to what is in the best interest of the people of these Virgin Islands that builds on the constitutional progress we have made as a people since 1950,” premier Wheatley said.
Regarding the register of interest, premier Wheatley explained that it was not completed because the provisions of the bill not only applied to [the electorate], but also to public servants. He said that public servants would be consulted before the register is finalised.
Premier Wheatley concluded by thanking public servants for their “tremendous effort over the past weeks that has helped us to begin the process of delivering reforms in earnest”. He also commended the governor and his group, along with the cabinet and other HOA members for their “hard work and constructive engagement in the process.”