Beautiful Virgin Islands

Friday, Dec 01, 2023

‘We didn’t speak specifically about removal of Order in Council’- Premier

Although holding the position that the Order in Council held in reserve to partially suspend the Virgin Islands VI) constitution is not representative of a modern partnership, the recent VI delegation to the United Kingdom (UK) did not make discussion for its removal a priority.

This is according to Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) during a press conference on May 16, 2023, to update the public on his delegation’s recent trip to the UK.

When asked by a reporter whether discussions were held regarding the removal of the Order in Council, Premier Wheatley said the delegation “didn’t speak specifically about the removal of the Order in Council” since Minister of States for the Overseas Territories Hon Frank Z. R. Goldsmith has already made it clear the UK wants to see some more progress on implementation of Commission of Inquiry (CoI) reforms.

Premier and Minister Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), left, and Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour and Trade Hon Lorna G. Smith, OBE at a press conference on May 16, 2023, to update the public on their recent trip to the United Kingdom.

‘We are committed to the reform process’- Premier

The Order in Council is being held as leverage to force the VI to swiftly implement reforms recommended by a lone-Commissioner of the CoI.

Premier Smith said; however, the VI has committed to continued progress on reforms and is hopeful the Order in Council would be lifted soon.

“We are committed to the reform process. We are committed to good governance, transparency, accountability, adherence to the rule of law and certainly we also believe very much in democracy and allowing the people of the Virgin Islands to participate in the reform process.

“And that’s the way we think it should happen in a democratic society. So, we will continue to work hard in terms of improving our governance and we will also continue to engage our partners in the United Kingdom and really let them know we are committed to the process and the Order in Council is not necessary,” Premier Wheatley said.

Reforms ‘too slow’- Lord Goldsmith

Lord had told Governor Rankin last month that the process of implementing the CoI reforms “has been too slow.”

The UK Minister said he was “particularly concerned that there have been signs of insufficient commitment in some specific areas” of the implementation.

“Too many areas lag substantially behind, and I am concerned that much of what has been delivered so far does not yet represent genuine legislative reform and safeguards to prevent future abuse,” he wrote.

Lord Goldsmith then set a May 2024 deadline for the reforms to be in place.

With a new government in the Virgin Islands (VI) elected, following general elections of April 24, 2023, British Member of Parliament James Sunderland believes the Government of the United Kingdom (VI) should now lift the Order in Council to partially suspend the territory’s constitution.

“The British Virgin Islands, for example, wants its prescriptive court order lifted. It has a new government and a superb new Prime Minister, so it’s time now for the BVI to fulfil its potential and to move forward,” Mr Sunderland, a Conservative Party member, stated during the debate titled Future of Overseas Territories in the House of Commons on May 11, 2023.


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