Beautiful Virgin Islands

Friday, Jan 27, 2023

Proposed Water Authority must be independent without going rogue

Proposed Water Authority must be independent without going rogue

Minister of Health Marlon Penn said the government must ensure the newly proposed Water & Sewerage Authority is independent of any political body when it becomes established.

Penn, who was contributing to the recent House of Assembly debate on the bill seeking to make the Water and Sewerage Department a statutory body, said there were some aspects of the bill that concerned him.

One such aspect was about ministerial powers. He said proper regulations must be put in place to guide the extent of these powers.

“These initiatives have to be national initiatives. They must transcend the political class and any political leadership because they are of national interest and of the national good. So, I think we have to be careful the level of power and authority we give the minister in terms of involvement in the details of the running of the organisation,” Penn stated.

“We have to be careful that we don’t create an entity … [whereby] you have a rogue minister that comes into office and messes and interferes with the progress of this particular entity,” he added.

“We also have to ensure that the survival of this is not dependent on any political entity. There needs to be a level of independence in the authority for it to function. [The] FSC (Financial Services Commission) was able to function the way it did because it had it a level of independence in the way it functioned. You put proper leadership in place, you put the elements for it to be successful, and you allow these entities to work and then [allow] these entities to function,” Penn further said.

The Authority must not be made to go rogue either

The Health Minister, however, noted that proper checks and balances must be effected to ensure the Water & Sewerage Authority does not become a rogue entity that does as it pleases and does not follow the policy direction of the territory.

“We have a national development vision for water as a territory … So, we have a lot of work to do ahead of this debate. I believe that we must pay keen attention to the legislative framework,” he said.

“I think the suggestion made by the Leader of Opposition in terms of some type of clear roadmap or some clear vision if it doesn’t already exist, must be paramount in the establishment of this entity. And how we move forward,” Penn continued.


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