Remove Sister Islands Coordination from Deputy Governor’s Office
Ninth District Representative Vincent Wheatley has called for sister islands’ coordination services to be removed from under the Deputy Governor’s Office and placed under the Premier’s Office for greater efficiency.
Wheatley further said the sister islands’ coordination services should be part of a wider unit that is also responsible for ensuring equity among all districts.
“When I look at the responsibilities of that job it is best suited for the Premier’s Office as the lead ministry, with a unit that works across all ministries – a coordinated entity. It should not be in the Deputy Governor’s Office, it needs to be in the Premier’s Office with proper funding. I think if we make that move it should solve a lot of the problems with equity among districts,” said Wheatley who served as sister islands coordinator before entering representational politics.
Wheatley said those responsible for sister islands coordination have developed a “grid” over the years, which outlines all the issues affecting neighbouring islands. He said this unit needs to appear before the Standing Finance Committee to advocate for the sister islands because they need funding to address critical issues.
“That would be the person’s main function — to make sure all the districts are given fair treatment because every single district representative will tell you that there is something in their district that goes neglected. If it’s not road, it’s water, power, bush, a school, clinic, airport or dock. I have all of them in my district,” Wheatley stated.
With no dedicated unit to advocate for the sister islands and equity among all districts, Wheatley said the permanent secretaries and other public officials are the ones left to decide which issues to address in each district. But he said oftentimes, critical issues are overlooked.
“If you leave those things to chance, some things will be missed. It has to be structured through the budget,” Wheatley said.
He added that many years ago, there were plans to place sister islands’ coordination under the Premier’s Office. However, it had to be transferred to the Deputy Governor’s Office because of a lack of space in the Premier’s Office.