Bishop of the New Life Baptist Church in Duff’s Bottom, Tortola, Mr John I. Cline has urged leaders in the Virgin Islands (VI) to commit to the advancement of the territory that leads to independence by 2027.
“We can choose to remain in the clutches of the UK, or move forward to national growth, economic security, and political independence,” he said in a statement released via Facebook on November 2, 2022.
Time to move forward - Bishop Cline
“If we choose the latter, we must overcome the fears of our unknown future, move forward with courage and, through thought and action, wrestle with the changes and challenges that will come as we mature into a trusted, stable, and politically healthy country.”
Bishop Cline added that the VI must therefore commit to the path of constitutional change and advancement that leads to independence and that should be done by the year 2027.
“We must put a goalpost in place. We cannot continue to kick the can down the street when it comes to our independence and self-determination. So I say to leaders, you must lead. You must lead or get out of the way,” he admonished.
According to Bishop Cline, allegiance to political parties, self-interest, power-grabbing, and more have stagnated the VI’s growth and retarded its progress over the years.
Bishop Cline added that the VI must
therefore commit to the path of constitutional change and advancement
that leads to independence and that should be done by the year 2027.
VI should be further along - Bishop Cline
“With the annual budget of 390 million [dollars] per year, approximately 1.6 billion dollars every four years, we should have been farther along than we are now and we have no one else to blame but ourselves for that.”
He continued, “Our roads should be in better condition, our oceans and our beaches should be pristine, our environment should be clean, our waste management should be in place, our education system, our healthcare system, our energy system, all should be world-class.”
He said strong leadership will be needed to take the VI forward, including towards independence.
“We need leaders, not UK puppets, national-minded leaders who will lead us forward into our own independence, and leaders who can unite us and not divide us,” the clergyman said.