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Friday, Dec 09, 2022

Big mistake! Gov’t shouldn’t have accepted COI recommendations

Big mistake! Gov’t shouldn’t have accepted COI recommendations

The National Unity Government made a serious error when it accepted the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report’s recommendations to be implemented with rigorous timelines through an agreed framework between itself and the United Kingdom (UK) government.

This was the view espoused by former legislator within the previous National Democratic Party (NDP) government, Myron Walwyn, when he appeared on the Talking Points show on ZBVI radio recently.

The COI report proposed that the BVI’s constitution be suspended for at least two years in the first instance, and recommended that an advisory council, led by the BVI’s governor, be instituted to govern the territory in the interim. That suspension would have meant that there would be no legislative body or elected representatives in place during that time.

But the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government joined forces with some members of the political Opposition and agreed to a way forward on how the COI recommendations could be implemented within a two-year timeline to avert that suspension.

Public should have been consulted

Walwyn said he does not agree with the approach, arguing that there should have been consultations with the public before the government settled on a decision.

The former legislator pointed out that the government of the BVI is the major driver of the economy, and said this will not change any time soon.

“So, when you make certain decisions that inhibit that ability to help our people, that, to me, is a problem. And then, to be able to accept the recommendations without coming to the people first, I think was a big mistake on the part of the government,“ Walwyn stated.

He suggested that, in consultation with the public, a committee of the House of Assembly (HOA) should have been established instead to look at the recommendations coming out of the COI.

According to Walwyn, there was nothing that prevented the territory from coming up with counter recommendations to those proposed in the COI’s report, since the overarching goal is to have good governance, transparency, and accountability.

The former legislator also noted that he held some concerns with how some of the agreed reforms have been implemented since being agreed upon.

You can’t bind the HOA

While making reference to the framework agreement document, Walwyn said some of the timelines in the document require HOA members to pass them.

“You cannot bind the House of Assembly, you can’t say that you’re going to do something by the 25th of some time when in fact, it is subject to the approval of the House,” Walwyn argued. “Because, on the one hand, you’re trying to protect the very same constitution, but on the other hand, you’re abrogating the value of the constitution by trying to bind the House of Assembly to almost a rubber stamp institution.”

Walwyn, while admitting that some of the recommendations needed to happen, said he believes the territory should have gotten a Caribbean jurist of good repute who could be able to provide critical analysis of the COI report.

He said, even though some of the COI recommendations might be good, how they were arrived at may have left some things to be desired and was not as informed as they should have been.

“I think much greater deliberation, simply to account for the nuances in the BVI, had to be given more consideration,” Walwyn added.


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