The United Kingdom appointed Governor John J. Rankin, CMG a few days ago assented to the Register of Interests (Amendment) Act, 2022. This was one of the many recommendations coming out of the controversial one-man Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report.
In a press statement today, Monday, December 12, 2022, he noted that “after much consideration, I have decided to assent to the Act as passed by the House of Assembly. I do so in the hope that members of the public will make such proper use of the information contained in the Register as they can, and with a clear expectation that the House of Assembly (HoA) will return to this subject within 1 year to design a new system for registration of interests.”
Under the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 and the Register of Interests Act 2006, Members of the HoA are required to register their interests. However, in the CoI report, it claimed that Members of the HoA (across all political parties) had failed to meet that obligation.
Members rejected the CoI one-sided script
However, during the testimony by many current and former Members of the HoA, they strongly disputed that script. But the Government of National Unity headed by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) undertook to make the Register of Interests public.
While Dr Wheatley had signed off on all the recommendations coming out of the CoI
Report, no one has disputed that the purpose of a public register is to produce greater transparency around the interests of Members of the HoA.
Make changes in 1 year or else- Governor
The governor noted that his assent to the Bill was conditional “my assent to the Act is therefore being made together with my clear expectation that the House of Assembly will return to this subject within 1 year”.Mr Rankin
, a senior civil servant in the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, continued: “It is vital that the commitments made under the Framework Document are adhered to”.
Many in the political class have condemned Governor Rankin telling the independent Legislature when they should amend a bill. A former legislator, speaking to our newsroom on condition of anonymity, stated: “We should be very concerned when the Governor of the day is now blatantly interfering in an independent legislature and demanding that a law must be further amended within a year.”
The former Member stated, “it continues to cement in our minds that the Governor is fully in charge even though the Constitution has not been officially suspended, and all elected Members should be highly troubled.”
Many in the political class have
condemned Governor John J. Rankin, CMG telling the independent
Legislature when they should amend a bill.