Opposition member of the House of Assembly Julian Fraser has blasted Governor John Duncan for using his constitutional powers yesterday (March 16) to force Government to allocate an additional $800,000 to the Royal Virgin Islands (RVIPF) for this year.
According to Fraser, the decision has set the British Virgin Islands back at least a decade in its constitutional advancement.
Fraser, who the governor recently removed from the post of Leader of the Opposition, further said Governor Duncan should stay out of ‘local politics’.
“I didn’t think the day would come when I would see a governor exercise a monarchical take-over of our Treasury. This is what I call a soft takeover of the democratically elected Smith government. The governor was wrong and he has to be stopped,” Fraser said in a post on his Facebook page.
He further said: “…Some might disagree with me, but I think the governor ought stay out of our local politics. He has the Protocols for Effective Financial Management to hold the government accountable with. That is an administrative arrangement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Government of the Virgin Islands to keep the government frugal in its financial affairs,” Fraser further argued.
He suggested that no local government should feel immune to the type of action Governor Duncan took yesterday.
“What happened [yesterday] has set this territory back at least a decade in our Constitutional advancement, and has shaken the core of our democracy. Hate the Government all you want, but keep your dignity by respecting your fellow Virgin Islanders. They did it to him, what makes you think you are any different?” Fraser further said.
He added that he still wants the RVIPF to be removed from under the leadership of the governor and instead placed under the government.
“I still believe this, because it is the democratic thing to do. What the governor did was an act of desperation and undemocratic,” added Fraser.
Up to recently, Fraser was among persons criticizing the National Democratic Party government for not properly funding the RVIPF.
In January while he was still Leader of the Opposition, he suggested that the government was not funding the RVIPF properly because it does not control the law-enforcement organization.
Fraser later lamented: “If you look at the 2017 budget, the police have now received $16.136 million. Of that, only $2.3 million has been left for the operation. If I go back to 2006, the police only had about $2.5 million for operational purposes. So, you are looking at 11 years since. How do you explain that your operational funding [for the RVIPF] is the same as it was 11 years before?”
“That’s the trend I am talking about, because the total budget [for the RVIPF] has grown to $16 million [this year] over $10.8 million in 2006. So, they got basically $6 million in the total budget, but the operational part of it has not changed. That trend is constant within the territory budgetarily,” Fraser further said during the recent budget debate in the House of Assembly.
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