He said during a press conference on March 18, 2022, in response to questions on the issue, that public officers were grilled by the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) about whether enforcements were being done or not and the integrity of the organisation was being called into question.
“The Customs have not just enforced the laws, Customs has continued to work with all the agencies to make sure that they fall in line with the new regulations or even with existing regulations and give the timeframe to do so,” he remarked.
Addressing the matter of The Moorings being faced with millions in fines for non-compliance he said, “It is a challenge when these things happen but we also have to look at safety, we also have to look at the reputation of the Virgin Islands.”
“We also have to look at the flip side, that it is a protection of all stakeholders, private and public. Because if the law enforcement agencies are not satisfied that it is fully compliant and they don’t do their job and something else happens, the media with due respect will be asking us a different question. Why didn’t you stop this, why didn’t you [if ] you knew this was not so why didn’t you adhere to the law?”
He continued: “So it is one of those questions where I understand you are asking, but it is Friday afternoon and I try to stay with my prayers but this is an almost damned if you do, and damned if you don’t business.”
Meanwhile, Director of the VI Shipping Registry (VISR) Mr. John Samuel informed that when he joined the Shipping Registry he found a gap analysis and it was as a result of the UK’s Maritime and Coast Guard Agency’s assessment of VISR’s performance indicating the areas where the country was falling short.
He said to ensure that the VI remained compliant and didn’t lose its status, these gaps, including the Coastal State, which is how a state administers and maintains safety in its coastal waters, had to be closed.
“The regulations were in place from 2004; I cannot say why or why not they were enforced but my job at the time was to make sure that we became compliant and we began that process at that time,” he explained.
Premier and Minister of Finance Hon Andrew A. Fahie said ensuring that the marine sector is in compliance with the safety laws of the country is critical.