In a historic move, legislators on the Virgins Islands House of Assembly (HoA) returned to the House after it was dissolved on March 10, 2023, for the reading of the Immigration & Passport Validation Bill 2023 and Immigration & Passport Amendments Bill 2023.
The 4th House of Assembly (HOA) was today, April 17, 2023, recalled by Governor John J. Rankin, VMG to regularise the status of 688 persons who were granted simultaneous Belongership and Residency Certificated under the Government’s ‘Fast Track’ process when they did not qualify for both.
Opening the motions on the floor were Deputy Premier Hon Kye M. Rymer (R5) with motions seconded by Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) as the House seeks a way forward days before the April 24, 2023, elections in the territory.
Hon Rymer said the recall of the House is part of the functioning of the constitution and that in the United Kingdom, the House was recalled after its dissolution in several instances.
He said it is with very good reasons that both the Governor and Premier agreed that it was necessary and appropriate for the House to be recalled as well as on the advice of the Hon Attorney General, Dawn J. Smith.
As part of the process, some 3 members of the House whose spouses or significant others were mentioned in the Residency and Belonger Status Programme, have recused themselves to avoid all claims of conflict of interest, namely Premier, Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), Hon Neville A. Smith (AL) and Hon Sharie B. de Castro (AL).
The 4th House of Assembly (HOA) was today
recalled by Governor John J. Rankin to regularise the status of 688
persons who were granted simultaneous Belongership and Residency
Certificated under the Government’s ‘Fast Track’ process when they did
not qualify for both.
Attempts to throw blame noted - Hon Rymer
The Deputy Premier said he has also noted deliberate public attempts in some quarters to assign blame on the issue and that it is a disservice to spread misinformation and rumours including on spouses of members in the House.
“This absolutely not so, let me be perfectly clear, Honourable Neville Smith’s wife was married to him for five years and qualified based on section 16 (6) of the law. Honourable Sharie de Castro’s significant other satisfied the requirement for years required under Section 16(4),” he said,
He further added, “the Premier’s wife by far satisfied the requirement of years required under the same section. When Cabinet approved applications, he recused himself and did not vote. Furthermore, Honourable de Castro and Honourable Smith were not a part of Cabinet at the time,” he added.
Hon Rymer said those who are spreading misinformation are conveniently leaving that information out to sway public opinion and that unfairly presenting someone as corrupt for their personal gain is not the right thing to do.