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Thursday, Dec 08, 2022

Current gov’t structure still gives Premier’s Office too much power

Current gov’t structure still gives Premier’s Office too much power

Despite indicating his support for the new National Unity Government, Opposition legislator Julian Fraser has expressed his concern that the current structure of government remains the same as before.

Speaking with BVI News last Friday, Fraser said this structure gives the Premier of the territory too much power.

“My whole thing about the Premiers of this country is that they are omnipotent. They have powers that are unbelievable when compared to the other ministers,” said Fraser who is to become Opposition Leader.

“I use my hand [as an example]. There is five of them (Cabinet ministers) and this is the Premier,” Fraser said while pointing to his thumb. “The other four fingers are over here. There is no diversity in the cabinet. So, that is what I am talking about,” he added.

The Opposition legislator also referred to a previous decision by former Premier Andrew Fahie to remove several statutory bodies from the Ministry of Works; a move Fraser that said indicates the unchecked powers the territory’s Premiers possess.

“There is no way that a Premier could have gone into the Ministry of Communications and Works and take out the Ports Authority, take out the BVI Airport Authority, take out BVI Electricity Corporation and take out the Communication Regulatory Commission. All of those things came out of the one ministry and there was no push back. It should not happen, and it is not supposed to happen,” he stated.

This unity gov’t is maintains the old way of operating

Fraser said although the current unity government is similar in structure to his proposed all-party government, it still maintains the old way of operating a government in the territory.

This, he said, has been proven to be an issue.

“What I see right now is a Premier and ministers and I am afraid it’s going to be the same business as usual with a Premier and ministers except the only difference right now is that the spotlight is heavy on us, and he (Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley) made some promises. But it is not codified on if he can run the government as equal partners. It is not codified so he is going to fall back in the old way of doing things,” Fraser said.

The Opposition legislator noted that everyone in the House of Assembly, including himself as the only sitting member of the Opposition, has a big role to play in the wider context of things. He noted that everyone in the House is concerned about portraying a sense of unity for the sake of the territory and its people.

“So, whatever is being done in that room, we are supposed to do together. How is that going to work in practice? It is going to take the will of us all to get it done,” Fraser said.

Notwithstanding his concerns, the senior legislator said he remains optimistic that the new government spearheaded by Dr Wheatley will not follow the blueprint of previous administration and will work towards implementing the Commission of Inquiry recommendations while maintaining the democratic integrity of the territory.


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