In a statement earlier today, Dr Wheatley said the unity government is a big departure from the composition of previous administrations over the last 36 years. As a result, he said he has received several questions about what this means and how it will affect the political makeup of the territory.
In providing some clarity to the situation, the Premier explained that the Government of National Unity is a coalition comprising elected representatives from three political parties in the House of Assembly.
“Represented are the Virgin Islands Party (VIP), National Democratic Party (NDP) and Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM). We are partners in Government, which is also reflected in the makeup of the Cabinet,” Dr Wheatley stated.
“To be clear, this does not mean our respective political organisations have been amalgamated into one. They remain individual political bodies. However, at the Governmental level, the members of the Government of National Unity comprise one unit. While this is the case, we want to reassure the public that political parties in the Virgin Islands will continue to be an integral part of representative democracy here in the islands,” the Premier added.
Dr Wheatley explained that in the formation of the Government of National Unity, the members of the House placed the country above party and above self. He added they are working together in the national interest, as opposed to engaging in partisan divisions that serve no one’s interest.
“We are demonstrating our maturity and determination to make the fundamental changes needed for a new era of democratic governance that will place the territory on a new development trajectory. A coalition government puts the Virgin Islands in the strongest possible position to reform and renew our precious democracy,” Dr Wheatley stated.
“The recent dramatic events and developments in the United States and here in the territory were a test of our national character and whether we as a people could rise to the occasion to meet our challenges. I believe we have taken the right initial steps, but there is much further to go,” the Premier continued.
Dr Wheatley said his government already made some tough but necessary decisions to take the territory into the dawn of a new era.
“We have been tough on statutory boards. It was in the public interest to dissolve those that are no longer in place. We are also in the process of shifting social assistance away from elected officials directly to the Social Development Department. These were the right things to do,” the Premier said.
“Reform is not simply about what Sir Gary Hickinbottom has recommended or what the United Kingdom and governor want to see. It is about us wanting better for ourselves. There are more difficult decisions ahead, but we are prepared to make them. And that is why we are coming to your communities to discuss reform and to get your feedback,” he continued.