Among those with this message is Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) who at the Saturday, January 23, 2021 community meeting in Baughers Bay stressed that the CoI is a move to dissuade the government from its mission to empower residents.
“Ever since we got elected, for a matter of fact, when we ran, we ran on two or three very specific things we wanted to achieve for this territory. One of them is the empowerment of the people and that message was so well taken, so well received that it got some people scared.”
One of the clear policies of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Government has been about empowering its own people and this was recently seen with the swearing-in of Dawn J. Smith as a first local attorney general in some 20 years.
It has maintained that locals are capable of filling top posts in the territory.
This was also highlighted with the passing of the Disaster Management Act 2020, which, among other things, seeks to return the responsibility to local government.
The Commission of Inquiry was called by ex-governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert, who is well known to have had a strained relationship with the elected government.
According to Hon Wheatley, not everyone was pleased with the Government's agenda of people empowerment.
“They said you people are going too far with this empowerment idea. So they are trying their best to dissuade us from continuing down that trend, but the only way we are going to go, one way, the empowerment of our people to handle their own affairs at some point or the other, there is no turning back, I don’t care what they try, we are on this path and we are going to stay there,” the Minister said.
Hon Wheatley also reflected that the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) had campaigned on the platform of transforming the territory and it has been moving in that direction.
“And transform we will transform the BVI, we are not going back we are going forward, and when we go forward we will continue to go even further forward.”
He warned; however, that there will be resistance to the plans.
“So you’ll see these attacks here, and many more to come, but we know from whence our strength comes from so we are not afraid, we are all sleeping good at nights we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to be afraid, so let them carry on with their mischief, let them carry on with their mischief, it's ok.
“You don’t have to fear anything about this government here, everything is transparent, plain and accountable.”
Hon Wheatley said the government has been taking its time to cross the Is and dot the Ts, which resulted in some things taking longer than expected, “And that’s why some things have been taking so long to happen during this pandemic, we got to make sure, we said it, these things are going to be audited we had to make sure every T was crossed and every I dotted.
“And yall complained saying why it take so long, not yall, understand why we took the time that all systems of accountability were in place because we know the possibility of this happening and here we are, here we are now, a commission of inquiry. Every newspaper all over the world, BVI is a croak, drug dealers, BVI has stolen money, all sort of madness pure foolishness, they will not detract us from our mission and our purpose of empowering you the people. That is our pledge to you all, and once we pledge it we are going to do it.”
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