British Virgin Islands

Thursday, Jun 24, 2021

COI not going well; it’s too disruptive to my ministry

COI not going well; it’s too disruptive to my ministry

The productivity rate of some public officers has likely taken a serious hit as a result of the demands of the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI).

This is according to the Minister of Natural Resources, Labour & Immigration, Vincent Wheatley.

The minister said in a recent interview with JTV News that the subject of lands is a major part of the COI; resulting in him having to take an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to remain compliant with document requests from the Commission. The Department of Land & Survey falls under the Wheatley’s portfolio.

When asked what his thoughts were on the COI thus far, Wheatley said: “Well no, it’s not going well in my view. I find it’s too disruptive to my ministry.”

“Sometimes I would stop the entire office from doing everything, to focus on answers to questions concerning lands,” Wheatley said.

Other ministers share his plight

The minister said he felt it was unfair to the territory for him to have to stop his entire office from functioning and serving the people of the territory, simply to answer questions for someone.

He suggested that other ministers who are involved in the COI would likely tell a similar story.

Asked why the entire ministry would have to be involved in a response to a question, Wheatley said in certain instances, document requests may have been e-mailed on Friday to be submitted by the following Monday.

The minister said the document requests are not a job for two or three persons to respond to. He added: “[It’s all-hands-on-deck to get these things, to get the answers and the information to the Inquiry.”

File scattered at various locations

He further explained that one of the major issues is that all of the requested files are often not physically located at his ministry.

“If you go to my ministry now, half the staff are out now because they’re trying to find [the information] … They’re moving files from one place to the next, but all the files are not at my ministry. The files are in the old Admin Complex, some may be down at Pockwood Pond – who knows where the files are” Wheatley said.

“It does stop the ministry,” he stated emphatically.

Deficient documents cause COI extension request

Government disclosed that it has so far submitted thousands of documents to the Sir Gary Hickinbottom-led COI.

Just days ago, Sir Gary sought an extension to complete the COI’s work because government documents submitted thus far have been in a “deficient state”.

The Commissioner will report his findings and recommendations to the Governor once the Inquiry has completed.


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