British Virgin Islands

Monday, Jan 18, 2021

Premier wants governor's powers to override certain decisions removed from constitution

Premier wants governor's powers to override certain decisions removed from constitution

Premier Andrew Fahie said one change that should be considered during the BVI’s constitutional review process is the power the governor can use to override certain decisions.

Section 92 of the Virgin Islands Constitution says persons are appointed to certain public offices on the advice of the Public Service Commission. However, the governor has the power to go against that advice, “if he or she determines that compliance with that advice would prejudice Her Majesty’s service”.

Addressing the House of Assembly on Tuesday, Premier said the section must be “re-analyzed and redefined in the new constitution”.

“I have seen where a Public Service Commission rightfully made decisions then they were asked to relook it by the governor, and they came back with the same decision and the governor override it saying, ‘this I have to do because it prejudices Her Majesty’s Service’. That is not the spirit in which it was written in the constitution,” the Premier argued.

Who’s in charge when governor absent from Cabinet

Fahie also pointed to another area he would like to see changed during the review process.

Section 49 of the document addresses cases when the governor is absent. The constitution says the Premier is the one who chairs Cabinet whenever the governor is absent.

The Premier, however, said the provision is often misinterpreted.

“We are faced with those who have the interpretation that it means that once the governor is absent and they give their responsibility to whoever is acting, that they will chair the Cabinet. I have called for a judicial review on this. It’s not that you want the power, it’s what’s written,” he argued.

Premier Fahie said it has become a hurdle to “overcome some of the willful ways of misinterpreting what is put in there [in the constitution] and have it as so”.

“[You are told] there is nothing you can do about it … [But] that is not right in the 21st century and it cannot stand. You cannot be in the river and on the bank at the same time,” he argued.


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