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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Framework agreement timeline meant to ’hang’ BVI, Smith says

Framework agreement timeline meant to ’hang’ BVI, Smith says

Local attorney Jamal Smith has roundly rejected the two-year timeline agreed between the BVI government and the United Kingdom (UK) to implement governance reforms recommended in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report.
In a recent interview with the Talking Points radio show, Smith said this timeframe was insufficient for the BVI to complete the lengthy list of agreed reforms.

Smith pointed to the possibility of the governor partially suspending the BVI’s constitution through an Order in Council currently held in reserve in the UK parliament and said the timeline “was literally meant to hang us”.

The proposed suspension was the first and main recommendation made in the COI report but will now only be implemented if those agreed reforms are not accomplished over specified timelines within the two-year period.

“It seems there is a unanimous position or unanimous view by the elected officials that the Order in Council should be rescinded, and we should not be pressured into it. That’s not democratic. I personally don’t share that view,” Smith expressed.

He argued that the government can’t ‘have its proverbial cake and eat it too’ by arguing against an Order in Council that they signed on to in the framework agreement in the first place.

Smith expressed concern at the government’s lack of consultation with the public before signing on to the agreement. He questioned why there was a subsequent call for community meetings after the agreement had been signed. “If you (the government) had come to me (the public) before, I was not going to agree to some of the things that you had signed on to,” Smith said.

“We have some timelines which are absurd, because you cannot expect to turn around a sinking ship in six to eight months. It is impossible so the timelines were ridiculous,” Smith added.

The attorney argued that the government is now beginning to realise that there is a problem with the agreed timelines.

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