Governor John Rankin has expressed confidence that public service workers will be paid their long-outstanding increments next month, as was promised recently by Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley.
Rankin, who serves as head of the public service, gave his take on the highly contentious issue recently after being asked to confirm on the Talking Points show that the proverbial ball surrounding the issue of payments was now firmly in his court.
“It is. I’m responsible for the public service,” Rankin responded. “If my memory serves me correctly, the agreement in Cabinet was that the first tranche of the increment payments should be made by June and I’m confident that those payments will be coming forward within that time period.”
Premier Wheatley recently expressed that those payments are now out of his hands after previously assuring the public that Cabinet had approved payments for public service increments earlier this year.
When asked whether his office may have dropped the ball on advocacy for public servants’ increments, even as he offered assent to the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Services) Amendment Act, 2021, Governor Rankin explained that the much-derided law, popularly known as the ‘Greedy Bill’, was not in violation of the constitution nor in breach of the BVI’s international obligations.
“In those circumstances, as governor, I can advise as to the wisdom of legislation. I can advise as to how this may be perceived by other persons, but it is not a circumstance in which I would normally refuse assent,” he commented. “The judgment on the merits or otherwise of that piece of legislation will not primarily be for me to make.”
In the meantime, Governor Rankin raised the question of why the increments were left to be rolled out so shortly ahead of the just-completed general elections, noting that this is something for which he will leave others to make a judgment.
The governor added however, “It does depend on the money being made available and it was only once the Cabinet and Ministry of Finance agreed to make that money available that actual decisions could be made to make those increments payable.”