British Virgin Islands

Monday, Sep 20, 2021

HoA Moving To Facilitate Gov't Contracts For Neville Smith's Company

HoA Moving To Facilitate Gov't Contracts For Neville Smith's Company

Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie will be seeking to have two motions passed in the House of Assembly, seeking to exempt Deputy Speaker Hon. Neville Smith from vacating his seat after he secured two contracts with the government via his company Caribbean Security Systems.

According to the Order Paper issued on Wednesday, July 28, this session will be an emergency sitting and will be conducted virtually.

First Contract


The Order Paper informed that the company secured a contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the Ministry of Finance, on November 26, 2020.

The contract was “to provide services for the installation of ICT equipment for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force at identified locations in Tortola, for a total contract sum of $99,285.00.”

Second Contract


The second contract, which was also done under the Ministry of Finance, was on April 8 this year.

This contract was to “provide services for the installation of access control, video surveillance and burglar alarm in the Department of Information Technology/Telephone Services Management, Inland Revenue and Treasury Departments and for additional installation including building wild fire system at relocation offices located at Skelton Bay Lots, Fish Bay, Tortola, for a total contract sum of $72,917.56.”

Constitution


The Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 states that “an elected member of the House of Assembly shall vacate his or her seat if the member becomes a party to a contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands for or on account of the public service, or if any firm in which the member is or becomes a partner, or a company of which the member is or becomes a director or manager becomes a party to a contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands.”

However, the same Constitution makes provision for a member to be exempted from vacating his seat.

“Section 67(7) provides that if in the circumstances it appears just to do so, the House of Assembly may exempt an elected member from vacating his or her seat under subsection (3)(e) if the member, before becoming a party to a contract, or before or as soon as practicable after becoming interested in a contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands by virtue of being a partner in a firm or director or manager in a company which has a contract with the Government, discloses to the House of Assembly the nature of the contract and his or her interest in the firm or company involved in the contract.”

In this instance, it begs the question of whether the Hon. Deputy Speaker, who entered into his first contract eight months ago and the second contract three months ago, falls within the ambit as per the Constitution Order of disclosing to the HoA, “before or as soon as practicable possible” when there were numerous sittings of the legislature before and after those dates?

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