On the heels of a Friday, April 3, 2020 statement by Governor of the Virgin Islands (VI) H.E. Mr Augustus J.U. Jaspert, on the arrival of additional COVID-19 test kits in the Territory, local pastor and commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton-Cline has accused the Governor of trying to upstage the Premier Andrew A. Fahie administration.
According to the 'Honestly Speaking' radio show moderator, on the April 3, 2020 special edition of his show, the Governor's statement was littered with 'red flags' which he said included too many references to himself as an independent authority in the Territory, although the COVID-19 fight has largely been stewarded by the locally elected government.
No credits to Fahie Gov't - Skelton-Cline
The Governor, as part of his statement on the arrival of the test kits, said: "I would like to reiterate the commitments I made to you at the start of the week. I will keep my communication clear, regular and open. I will listen to your concerns and answer your questions; and I will do everything in my constitutional power to serve you during this time."
Governor Jaspert also noted that he will continue lobbying the UK for support, "I will continue to work, on behalf of the people of the British Virgin Islands, to secure further supplies and equipment from the UK. I intend to provide another equipment update next week, which I hope will include more test kits, PPE and isolation facilities."
According to Skelton-Cline, the statement had too many first-person pronouns. "I see a reference in here where what the Governor is doing, is almost independent from what the government is doing, and/or not at least giving the government the credit for what it has been done in protecting and caring for its own people."
Is Governor running the Territory?
He said the references by the Governor to himself in several instances is especially worrying since it can signal that the Territory is now back in the hands of the UK through the Governor.
"That should never be the case under any circumstances, it should be clear to us, this elected government is spending some $12M prior to what the governor is purporting here, that the United Kingdom is doing."
Skelton-Cline, a day earlier, on April 4, urged the local government to stop looking to the UK for help, accusing the Crown of providing lacklustre and no meaningful support to the VI, following statements by the Governor that the VI can finance its own initiatives to help persons negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Andrew A. Fahie Administration had requested a grant from the UK to assist persons made unemployed due to COVID-19 measures.
“We [VI] have healthy reserves and the Social Security Board Fund is very robust," Governor Jaspert said.
This led to Mr Skelton-Cline remarking: "We have to do what we must do for ourselves, do not look [to the UK], the UK does not have a good history when it comes to assisting the Virgin Islands in any meaningful way."
10% of population needs testing
The 'man of the cloth' further said the 480 UK supplies of COVID-19 kits is far below 10% of the Territory's population.
"We are grateful but that's not what we asked for Governor," he said, adding that the Territory needs around 3000 kits to test at least 10% of the population and the financial grant to support those left unemployed by the virus.