British Virgin Islands

Friday, Dec 04, 2020

Ministers Should Have Power To Choose Permanent Secretaries

Ministers Should Have Power To Choose Permanent Secretaries

"I think that is something that should be addressed where a Minister has the ability to, or even the Premier has the ability to choose a Permanent Secretary," said Hon. Kye Rymer.

The Minister for Transport, Works and Utilities was at the time speaking under the Constitutional Review motion in the House of Assembly on Monday, July 27.

He said that fundamental changes need to be made to the current constitution, including the expansion of the government’s executive authority.

"Currently subjects including the public service, our courts, our police, disaster preparedness, they fall under the governor. Should all of these subjects continue to be under the preview of the UK for which the Virgin Islands government foots the bill? Surely this cannot continue indefinitely, even if there might be persons who feel strongly about transferring these subjects to the elected government," he said.

The Minister indicated that he is aware that the public service is a particularly sensitive area.

"Should a Minister not have the prerogative over the selection of his permanent secretary? Why should that be dictated to us, as to who the permanent secretary should be...I am not sure this is the way we should be going in this day and age," Minister Rymer expressed.

He said elected members are capable of carrying out these affairs.

Last month, Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Andrew Fahie had indicated that he will seeking through the upcoming Constitutional Review to have the public service portfolio moved to Government Ministers.

Hon. Fahie said that he had always wanted this and doesn’t agree with the current system where public servants are working in isolation of Ministers. Currently, the public service falls under the the UK-appointed Governor with administrative responsibility through the Deputy Governor's Office.


Governor Should Not Chair Cabinet

Minister Rymer is also of the view that the governor should not be chairing Cabinet.

"For example at this stage in our political development, should the Governor continue to preside over Cabinet? On what basis would the Governor continue to do so. The Governor is not a voting member of Cabinet. Is our Premier who was elected by the people not capable enough of presiding over a meeting of his Cabinet Ministers?"

He said that under the chairmanship of the the Premier, the Cabinet Secretary can provide Cabinet decisions to the office of the Governor.

The Motion is seeking for the House to approve the establishment of and the composition of the Constitutional Review Commission for the purpose of conducting a full review of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order, 2007 (U.K.S.I. No. 1678 of 2007).

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