"This Whistleblower Act is a good thing; it's a part of our maturity as a people; we are maturing. A Bill as important as this cannot pass without proper debate, and we should put this Bill within the proper context especially as governance issues are hot topics right now with the Commission of Inquiry (CoI)," he said on June 17 during the HoA's sitting.
He added, "As it pertains to good governance, we have to take some time to build our legislative and institutional frameworks; those things are necessary because in the course of our development and seeking to help our people; certainly we would have instances where people would suspect wrongdoing on the part of someone in a position of authority. And, that is why this government, deserves commendation for bringing to the HoA not just one Act, but a number of Acts which seeks to modernise and to mature our legislative and institutional framework to provide for good governance in these Virgin Islands."
Meanwhile, the mover of the motion, Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie said the Bill would have its second and third reading during this ongoing session of the HoA.
While introducing the Bill, he insisted that his administration was not forced to bring the bill and other good governance legislation to the House.
"This is part of our sacred covenant with the people of the Virgin Islands. We promised to bring this legislation if we were elected to office, and since we were elected to office, we do recognise some delays in having some of these done, given having to battle dealing with the UK to discuss the conditions that we were concerned about with the loan guarantee and not too long after that having to deal with COVID-19," he remarked.
Also supporting the Bill was Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities, Hon. Kye Rymer, Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Hon. Neville Smith.
This Act, when it becomes law, will provide protection and even compensation for whistleblowers in the British Virgin Islands. A whistleblower is defined as someone in the public service or otherwise who reports wrongdoing of their superiors.
According to a post-Cabinet meeting decision which was chaired by Governor John Rankin, CMG on February 3, 2021, Cabinet reviewed and noted: the Bill entitled, Whistleblower Act, 2021 (the "Bill"), which seeks: "to make provisions for the manner in which individuals, may in the public interest, disclose information that relates to unlawful or other illegal conduct or corrupt practices of others."
It continued: "To provide for the protection against victimisation of persons who make these disclosures, and to provide for a fund to reward individuals who make the disclosures."
This legislation was promised by this VIP government weeks before taking office in 2019.
Notably, the Andrew Fahie-led administration has been accused of victimisation and intimidation among public officers, and a Commission of Inquiry launched by the United Kingdom is currently probing those allegations in addition to allegatiosn of corruption.