Premier Wheatley also noted that Sir Gary recognises that there must be a mechanism for the BVI to be able to move from delegated authority to devolved authority.
“Well, what I would say is even in the [COI] report, Sir Gary Hickinbottom recognises that the reforms what we would implement would actually assist us in our path to self-determination and that’s a sentiment that I agree with and I think the majority of the public would really agree to that,” Premier Wheatley said recently.
The Premier further stated that it was not too late for persons in the territory to have a conversation about where they want to go as a people.
According to the Premier, the BVI’s current status as a territory is something that, given that a resolution was passed in the United Nations since 1960 to say that colonialism must be brought to an end.
“The status that we have right now. Which is the status of a colony of the United Kingdom or territory – if you want to use that nomenclature – that is intended to be a temporary status,” the Premier said.
He explained that there are currently seventeen non-self-governing territories which have to make a decision as to what form of self-determination they would want to see for themselves.
Premier Wheatley said the options available to the BVI on the path it should take to self-determination include integration, free association and independence.
With integration, he explained that a country can possibly become a part of another country, for instance, the way in which Martinique and Guadalupe are part of France.
“You also have free association where you can of course have a mutually beneficial relationship clearly defined between this nation and another nation and it doesn’t necessarily have to be the United Kingdom. It could be a country like Canada for instance,” Dr Wheatley explained.
With the route of independence, he noted, this would be the option where the BVI would “go at it alone”.
“But you have the ability to join multilateral organisations. Of course, we can become full members of CARICOM, OECS, and other nations and then we can make decisions in our own best interest,” the Premier added.
Dr Wheatley reiterated that a direction on a possible path to self-determination requires continued conversation.
“So, the fact that we are implementing these reforms, I don’t think excludes us or precludes us from being able to have that discussion,” the Premier said.
He continued: “We can still have that discussion. In fact, I think the process we’re going through will actually help us because of course, we have a constitutional review and those discussions should come up in the constitutional review. Especially given the fact that even Sir Gary Hickinbottom outlines in the Commission of Inquiry Report that there must be a process or a mechanism for transferring delegated authority to devolved authority.”
The Premier said the BVI’s delegated authority can be taken away at any time as is evidenced by its current constitutional interim amendment order.
“This order-in-council which of course is being held in reserve – you know, my position as Premier, the Deputy Ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Cabinet Secretary – all of these positions can be rendered vacant because that authority is delegated authority,” the Premier explained.