Although he agrees the BVI is mature enough to discuss independence from the UK, former NDP legislator Dr Kedrick Pickering said the territory needs to first determine exactly what it would take to pursue such a move.
He said the best approach to determine this cost would be to establish a committee to look into the matter. Dr Pickering said the establishment of this committee was one of the decisions made during the 2007 constitutional review process.
But he said both NDP and VIP governments have “dropped the ball” on this important issue.
“Coming out of the unfinished business of 2007 was the fact that a committee was supposed to have been established [and] that was to be charged with the responsibility of looking at the cost of going into independence,” said Dr Pickering who was a panellist at a roundtable talk on constitutional reform at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College on November 8.
He said after this cost is determined, the government can then facilitate a referendum to give the public the chance to state their views on independence.
“We should have been at the point where we are actually ready for a referendum on the issue and we’ve lost the momentum on that,” Dr Pickering stated.
He added that proper consultations with the public must be held before the BVI approaches the UK with hopes of being independent.
“In today’s world, I don’t think we will get to the point of formal negotiation with the United Kingdom government if public participation is minimal. They’re going to rightfully ask you ‘whose views are you representing?'” Dr Pickering said.
The matter of independence versus more political autonomy is a hotly debated issue in the political and public domains of the BVI.
Since taking office, Premier Andrew Fahie
has been preaching that the BVI must take serious steps towards independence, which he says is in the territory’s future, “whether we like it or not”.
However, the public is divided on the issue as some believe independence is overdue while others express a lack of trust in the ability of local politicians to govern the BVI.