This is following the April 2022 release of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report in which the Governors over the years have been given a pass for their failures in the good governance partnership; however, everything was blamed on the elected officials.
The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), for example, has been rocked with mismanagement, a high crime rate, numerous unsolved murders, police officers accused of drug running and scandals over the many years, along with the public having little confidence in the judicial system where residents are on remand for over four years; however, those areas under the portfolio of Governors were ignored.
However, the focus of a proposal in a draft document is to give all the powers to an unelected Governor. In other words, direct rule without the suspension of the constitution, which is on the table by the Natalio D. Wheatley-led Unity Government.
In the proposal yet to be discussed with the public, those elected will become powerless to help residents unless the Governor agrees, according to information reaching our news centre from two senior Unity Government officials.
The coalition government is proposing the immediate transition of House of Assembly (HoA) Assistance Grants Programmes to the Social Development Department. This was a small portion of funds in a programme given to each of the 13 elected Members of the HoA for small projects, to help those in the territory facing financial hardships, to help students in college, to assist residents in need with medical bills and to sponsor events in the community.
In about two to three ministries there are also special assistance grants to help farmers, fisher folks, small businesses, and students who may not have received a scholarship. They will now have to be pre-approved by the Deputy Governor's Office, according to the Unity regime's draft proposal.
In keeping with stripping the local elected officials of all powers and transferring them to a one-man governor, the HoA will be forced to amend laws to remove discretionary powers of Ministers to approve any assistance grants going forward, according to the draft proposal on the table with both the Governor and the United Kingdom.
Under the direct rule draft proposal, short of the suspension of the constitution, the Governor will oversee the conducting of independent Gateway Reviews every three months over the course of the reform process to assess the progress of reform based on the work programme for implementation of the Col recommendations and other reforms.
This will not just be in a proposal but the Government of National Unity and the UK Government will enter into a binding agreement for the implementation of the Col report recommendations and delivery of other reforms, based on the framework set out in the draft document not yet discussed with the public or even some backbenchers, according to sources.
Just like what would have happened if the constitution was suspended, the Governor under the draft proposal will establish an Advisory Council to advise the Governor and Government on implementing the agreed recommendations of the Col report and other reforms.
In a recent media interview, the UK-appointed Governor John J. Rankin, CMG claimed that those who are against direct rule and suspension of the constitution “are in the minority”. It is unclear how Mr Rankin came up with what many believe is an erroneous assumption.
As more and more details emerge from the draft proposal now on the table by the coalition Government headed by Premier Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), it is clear that the United Kingdom (UK) has imposed direct rule without suspending the constitution.
In keeping with stripping the local elected officials of all powers and transferring them to a one-man governor, the House of Assembly (HoA) will be forced to amend laws to remove discretionary powers of Ministers to approve any assistance grants going forward, according to the draft proposal on the table with both the Governor and the United Kingdom.