Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie has taken over the responsibility of protecting all of the Virgin Islands historical information, which he says will become the history and legacy of the territory.
The Premier's announcement came following the destruction of some 3% to 5% of the historical records of the Virgin Islands as a result of the hurricanes of 2017. "The information and history of a nation belong to its people. For that reason, I requested that responsibility for this important national treasure be transferred to the Premier’s Office," Hon Fahie said.
Records & Archive a priority - Premier
The Premier was at the time delivering his Budget Address Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) convened at the House of Assembly (HoA) chambers on November 19, 2019, in Road Town, Tortola.
He said as his office prepares to temporarily relocate from the Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex, the issue of the protection, preservation and management of the Territory's records and archives is something that must be immediately addressed since they have to be relocated as well.
"In this budget year, your Government will be initiating the establishment of the National Archives to ensure that the history of the administration of this Territory is available for future generations. In the meantime, interim arrangements will be made to protect our records and archives," he said.
State of Archives
During a press conference with media houses on April 19, 2018, Christopher Varlack, Chief Records Management Officer, said his department lost roughly “three to five per cent” of archival materials as a result of the hurricanes of 2007.
“In terms of the archive materials that we have responsibilities for in my department, we lost a few materials from our main office [Burhym Building] where we have current archives stored. I would say roughly about three to five percent of those materials,” explained Mr Varlack.
“There are many records that should become archives that won’t become archives because they were damaged significantly by the natural forces,” he said.
Premier Fahie, in his commitment to take responsibility of the National Archives and Records Management Unit, also promised to have all government documents and forms published in both English and Spanish.
The National Archives and Records Management Unit was previously the responsibility of the Deputy Governor's Office.