British Virgin Islands

Sunday, Jan 17, 2021

Public servants were reluctant to follow gov’t when COVID first hit

Public servants were reluctant to follow gov’t when COVID first hit

Premier Andrew Fahie has suggested that some sections of the public service were reluctant to follow his government when COVID-19 hit the BVI in early 2020.

The Premier gave that indication during the January 5 sitting of the House of Assembly but he didn’t say whether these persons were members of the House Of Assembly or other civil servants.

However, he said these persons showed reluctance to attend meetings his government called to discuss the pandemic but showed eagerness to attend meetings called by Governor Augustus Jaspert.

“You know, when we started with the HEOC (Health Emergency Operating Centre), I remember that sometimes we were trying to hold a little meeting and we couldn’t get the meeting held in the early days. But then if the Governor called a meeting everybody would show up and everybody chipping and chipping. And I had to ask them why that had to be? You don’t understand yourself? That means you still have some shackles in your mind,” Premier Fahie expressed.

He said this attitude among government stakeholders changed as time went by.

“We got it together after a while,” the Premier said.

Background of HEOC


Back in November 2020, Premier Fahie revealed that his government had formed the Health Emergency Operating Centre (HEOC) to manage the COVID-19 outbreak in the BVI.

He said the HEOC was formed because certain political factions tried to wrestle power from his government and give it to the Governor who would handle the affairs of the pandemic through the National Emergency Operating Centre (NEOC).

“The National Emergency Operating Centre team comes into place when there are hurricanes. We were told by some that it has to be the entity to be used during COVID-19 and we said, ‘no, COVID-19 isn’t a disaster, it’s a pandemic,” Premier Fahie explained.

He said his government justified its control of the pandemic using laws such as the Public Health Act (1977), which states that the Health Minister should be in charge during a pandemic.

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