Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley struck a buoyant tone as he sought to rouse constituents at his campaign launch in the Seventh District last evening, assuring them that despite mistakes made, he remains their best option to deliver on the issues that impact them.
“I have made mistakes and District 7, that ‘greedy bill’ was a mistake… on the first opportunity I have, the first piece of legislation that we will repeal will be that greedy bill,” the Premier promised.
The ‘greedy bill’ is a reference to the Retiring Allowances (Legislative Services) Amendment Act, 2021, a law passed by the Premier’s Virgin Islands Party (VIP) that has received intense backlash from residents over its excesses doled out to lawmakers even when they are voted out of office.
Dr Wheatley and his VIP have been locked in a war of words with members of the National Democratic Party (NDP) since the NDP criticised a section of the so-called greedy bill and promised to repeal those parts of the controversial legislation, if the were elected into government.
But even as he acknowledged the numerous issues that continue to trouble residents and members of his own district — including poor infrastructure, high unemployment, mounting piles of derelict vehicles, and escalating crime — Premier Wheatley denied that he was at fault in any way or that he had been ignoring his constituents and focusing on national issues to their detriment.
The VIP Chairman instead portrayed himself as the problem solver that will fix their ails, arguing that he was well equipped to lead the reformation that will deliver the progress the district desperately needed.
“The challenge is not with your district representative,” Premier Wheatley assured. “The problem is with the system. We are being failed systematically.”
Premier Wheatley shared plans to negotiate with landowners to identify land for a community project, construct new facilities such as a basketball court and playground, address unemployment and infrastructure issues, and establish district councils and awards to encourage community service.
He also mentioned the need for implementation of the National Sustainable Development Plan, completing the various outstanding Commission of Inquiry
) reforms, and developing a new constitution.
But in order to deliver on those plans, Dr Wheatley told residents he must be voted in with a majority government. He also assured residents that he will hold his team accountable as he expects to be held accountable once the VIP is re-elected.