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Sunday, Dec 04, 2022

Statutory boards review to look at political interference

Statutory boards review to look at political interference

An end-of-year deadline has been proposed for a review of how statutory boards are being run in the BVI and a key focus of that assessment will be on ‘political interference’.

In a proposal made to UK Overseas Territories Minister Amanda Milling, the government said that it is proposing for Cabinet to put forward a suitable candidate — such as a senior public officer — to lead a review of all statutory boards.

The proposal made by government follows a number of recommendations made in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report which was released several weeks ago by Governor John Rankin.

Review to examine political interference

Among other things, the government proposes that the review establish the extent to which those boards are applying policies intended to promote good governance. These policies would include a conflict-of-interest policy and a political interference policy.

Further to this, the proposal said the review is also expected to establish the extent to which statutory boards follow a due diligence policy, the steps needed to remedy any deficiencies, and the timescale in which the steps should be accomplished.

The review is also expected to establish the extent to which statutory boards are behind in their obligations to submit timely financial reports and audits, the proposal noted.

COI recommended protocol for board operations

In the meantime, Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom recommended in his COI report that there should be a protocol for the appointment and removal of statutory board members. He said this should be published and applicable to all such boards.

Sir Gary said this protocol should be based on the principles of good governance so that appointments and revocation of appointments are based on clearly expressed and publish criteria.

He further recommended that the protocol include a provision for the advertisement of posts, appropriate application forms, and appropriate checks and interviews before a panel of independent members.

Restricted circumstances to deviate

The report noted that there should be also be restricted circumstances in which the executive cannot proceed with the panel’s recommendation and the rights to an independent appeal in appropriate cases.

Importantly, Sir Gary said that it should not be necessary for the protocol to include any residual ministerial discretionary powers and noted that any such power should only be maintained where necessary.

If such powers were to be included, he said they should be subject to clearly expressed and published guidance.


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