Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has argued that his government has made significant strides in implementing governance reforms — an argument he believes can bolster his planned request for the UK to remove a Parliamentary Order in Council against the BVI.
The Order in Council set up to enforce the implementation of agreed governance reforms in the BVI following a damning Commission of Inquiry
) report last year.
Ahead of his planned visit to the United Kingdom (UK) to meet with UK Overseas Territories Minister Lord Goldsmith and other officials, Dr Wheatley explained in an interview with ZBVI Radio, that during his visit to the UK last year, there was no formal request for a removal of the highly controversial Order in Council.
“Right now, we’ve been doing the reforms for sometime, of course, I believe we’ve inspired a certain amount of confidence that we are serious about reform,” the Premier said of his intention to request the removal.
Dr Wheatley expressed that his government can now clearly show measurable progress on those reforms, and has shown a commitment to good governance, accountability and transparency — all of which were serious concerns emanating from the COI
report last year.
According to the Premier, in the process of implementing those governance reforms, his government has shown itself to be a committed partner which the UK can trust to honour its obligations.
Democracy trumps dictatorship
Premier Wheatley further related that his delegation plans to emphasise to UK officials that democracy is a more favourable prospect for the territory than dictatorship.
“We believe once we’ve strengthened our democratic institutions and strengthened the checks and balances in the system, that is more favourable than having one person just dictate what happens in the Virgin Islands
,” Dr Wheatley stated.
In the meantime, the Premier counted the territory’s ability to hold its upcoming general elections as a victory, particularly since the prospect of self-governance was almost removed with the main overarching recommendation of the COI
“Having the elections itself is a victory, because of course that was threatened to be taken away from us, and I believe we’ll help them to see that elections are also a way of being able to drive forward your democratic agenda and drive forward democratic reforms,” the Premier said.
Premier Wheatley will lead a delegation to London from 14 – 22 January. He said the trip is to advance the economic, political, and environmental interests of the Virgin Islands