British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

Fraser says COI is constructive, offers support

Fraser says COI is constructive, offers support

Opposition legislator Julian Fraser has expressed that he believes the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) is constructive in its efforts to improve governance in the BVI and said he is ‘all in’, regarding his support for the work being done.

“At this stage of my career and my long exposure to what obtains, I am not interested in listening to the same old stories, nor watching the same game over and over again. My belief is that the exercise you are engaged in is to be constructive, and as such, I’m all in. If however, I am to learn different, I’m out,” Fraser said.

The veteran legislator made the remarks in his written position statement on good governance that was submitted to the COI. He chose to submit his position independent of other members of the House of Assembly (HOA).

My opinion differs from other legislators

It was the COI who invited members of the House to submit position statements on good governance. And among other questions, the COI asked: “What steps do you, as Members of the House of Assembly, consider should be taken to ensure that the standards of governance in place will sustain public confidence in all elements of government?”

In response, Fraser said: “I have chosen to [dissent] from a joint statement on this matter of concern, because my perspective of the issues facing the territory particularly with regards to the topic of this questionnaire cannot, and is not expected to be that of other members, main reason being the disparity in experience.”

The veteran legislator said, “the longer you live with an ailment, the more likely you are to accept that it can’t be cured. There comes a time when something different ‘new’ has to be tried.” He believes the COI is, effectively, that ‘new’ effort.

He further expressed that there should also be forward-thinking and innovative proposals which he hopes will emerge from the COI upon its completion.

Two tier system for House Members?

Fraser offered that there should be a revamp of the current Territorial At-Large voting system in place. He suggested, instead, that there should a system where parties can either field candidates for district votes OR for At-Large votes.

In response to a question that asked about his role in ensuring that there is good governance and further, how he has carried out that role, Fraser responded: “Ask yourself this question. Who makes up the House of Assembly? And the answer is the Cabinet, namely the five ministers and the Attorney General; a cast of supporters namely, the two Junior Ministers, the Deputy Speaker and another back-bencher; plus the Speaker. That is a total of 11 out of 15 members. So, who are you kidding when you are trying to pin an unrealistic responsibility on the “House of Assembly” to hold the Cabinet to account? You know that this is nonsense, and you didn’t need me to tell you this. But you asked.”

Fraser said he is aware that the same system exists in the UK. However, he pointed out that the dynamics are vastly different.

“[They’re] different in the sense that they have diversity in numbers on their side. There is a parliament of 650 members, a strong and functional Opposition comprising of no fewer than 10 Parties — including a main Opposition Party — along with other Independent MPs, and they are also blessed with a bi-cameral system. So, for them, accountability can and is achieved. Not to mention, they also have the Press,” Fraser said.

Fraser also offered numerous other suggestions to the COI he felt could improve the execution of good governance in the BVI.


Related Articles

British Virgin Islands