British Virgin Islands

Monday, Oct 25, 2021

Premier gives COI conflicting reasons for board members’ removal

Premier gives COI conflicting reasons for board members’ removal

Premier Andrew Fahie has been accused of giving conflicting responses as to the reason for the removal of members from the Climate Change Trust Fund Board when his administration first entered office.
Giving evidence before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) yesterday, Premier Fahie said the board members couldn’t have been discharged from their duties since none of them ever received an actual revocation letter from his administration.

This was despite the fact that they had already been informed in April 2019 by way of a post-Cabinet government statement that they were no longer board members.

But Premier Fahie indicated to the COI that Cabinet changed its mind after that public notice about the board’s revocation and was in the process of “reconsidering”. Notably, he said this decision to reconsider was made outside of Cabinet so there is no public record of it.

He said Cabinet never finished reconsidering because of COVID-19. He further said it was during this process that the board members’ appointments expired. He said this was the reason they were no longer serving in their respective posts.

Premier flip-flopped between responses on how or why the board members were removed and he did not appear to settle on any one specific reason.

COI attorney Bilal Rawat then confronted the Premier with an undated written explanation that he (Fahie) had given to the COI on a previous occasion.

“[In that explantion], you say that the board was dissolved through the powers of the Cabinet memo. So, you don’t seem to be saying there, [at that time], that because you hadn’t written to people, they were still, in fact, technically in office,” said Rawat in reminding the Premier of his previous statements.

Fahie was further reminded that he previously pointed out that his government had invited board members to voluntarily resign. Fahie even admitted that the board has not been re-established since that time.

Rawat then suggested to the Premier that it was never his government’s intention to rescind Cabinet’s earlier decision to dissolve the board as he (Fahie) claimed.

The Premier was then asked whether the use of the words ‘rescind’ and ’re-establish’ in his document did not definitively show that the board had in fact been dissolved and that there was no attempt made to reconstitute the board after the former Attorney General (AG) Baba Aziz told Cabinet that their actions could be deemed unlawful.

The Premier in response said: “I can’t answer it in the way you answered it. You answered it how you want to conclude, I can only state what I’m stating.”

Further, when confronted by his earlier acceptance that the government went ahead with discharging the board despite receiving contrary advice from the former Attorney General, the Premier said it was not a fact he was prepared to accept, “full stop”.

The COI was further told that the board was never reconstituted at any time, more than two years after it had been dissolved.
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