British Virgin Islands

Thursday, May 06, 2021

‘Don’t take us for granted’, Speaker warns Governor Rankin

‘Don’t take us for granted’, Speaker warns Governor Rankin

Amid claims by the government that former Governor Augustus Jaspert drew negative international attention to the BVI, Speaker of the House of Assembly Julian Willock has deposited an early warning to Governor John Rankin, urging him not to take Virgin Islanders for granted.
“You will find people that are resilient, hardworking, honest and independent and this must never be taken for granted,” Willock said at Governor Rankin’s Swearing-In Ceremony.

He also charged the newly appointed UK official with improving the relationship between the Governor’s Office and elected officials.

“Today with your swearing in, it should mark a turning point for improved relations between governors and the government of the day, between governors and the House of Assembly and between governors and the people of the Virgin Islands. We expect you to improve the relationship where there has been mistrust,” Willock said.

Relations between the Fahie administration and Governor Jaspert’s office soured in 2020 when COVID-19 hit the BVI. There were allegations that the two arms of government wrestled for power as they tried to determine who should lead the territory during the health crisis.

Thereafter, Governor Jaspert made a series of decisions without informing the government and withheld his assent to the Cannabis Licensing Bill and the Drug Amendment Bill on which the Fahie administration was depending to revive the COVID-hit economy.

Amid this backdrop, Willock told Governor Rankin that his assent is a “mere formality” adding that he expects the Cabinet to be given reasons whenever assent won’t be granted.

“As Speaker of the House of Assembly, it has always been my understanding that the issues of assenting to a bill passed by parliament is a mere formality as it has been for over a hundred years in the United Kingdom as well as other parliamentary democracies — notwithstanding Section 79(2) of the constitution. And in that case, you would have raised those matters within Cabinet where a bill must be agreed to first before it reaches the legislature,” Willock stated.

Immediately after these words, Willock welcomed Governor Rankin with “much humility, understanding and a renewed effort to have a partnership based on mutual respect, understanding and professionalism.”
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