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Thursday, Dec 07, 2023

New gov’t must push transparency — Benito Wheatley

New gov’t must push transparency — Benito Wheatley

Special Envoy to the Premier, Benito Wheatley, has urged that the newly re-elected Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government make transparency a hallmark of its administration.
“Transparency is something that can always be improved and we needed much more of it. So, going forward, the new government has to push transparency,” Wheatley said recently.

He suggested that those efforts by the government at improving transparency can include the long-promised Freedom of Information Act which was expected to be introduced during the Andrew Fahie-led administration early last year.

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley commented previously that his government was still committed to introducing the legislation after it had been shelved in the wake of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report and the resulting framework agreement for the implementation of reforms.

In the meantime, the Premier’s Special Envoy also suggested that in boosting its attempts at transparency, the government can continue to release information to the public in different forms.

He also expressed support for an initiative by the Premier and Opposition members in the House of Assembly to have the committee stages of legislation made public. “I see no reason why it should not be public,” Wheatley said. “I think people have a right to hear the discussions and debate on bills. It shouldn’t simply be something discussed in the back room or off-camera. I have a right to see the rationale behind these things and to understand.”

According to Wheatley, these efforts at transparency will likely give the public more confidence and more understanding of what is happening in government.

And while noting that lawmakers just emerged from what he described as a bruising elections campaign, Wheatley urged that there should be some sort of reconciliation between the various political parties for persons to move forward.

“We have to put the elections behind us and not hold on to grievances, old ones,” he stated. “The government is now formed and we should get past any misgivings about the government and how it was formed.”

He added that there is competence in government and suggested persons should encourage and support the administration while holding it accountable.

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