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Governor should lose commission of inquiry power

Governor John Duncan

While stating that a stronger constitution would be required for possible independence, Founder of the People’s Democratic Party Ishmael Brathwaite said he would like the governor to have less power in deciding whether or not commissions of inquiry are held in relation to the conduct of Government.

He instead wants that power to be vested in the parliamentary opposition, as well as in public agencies such as the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General’s Department.

“Our constitution, in its present state, gives the governor too much discretionary power in deciding whether or not commissions of inquiry into the conduct of our elected representatives should be carried out. In my opinion, the provision should be reserved for the electorate of the BVI, through their elected opposition representatives, and relevant government departments such as Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General’s office – not the Governor,” Brathwaite continued.

“The absence of these provisions from our constitution is responsible for the misconduct of our representatives, a weak government, lack of transparency, corruption, and fiscal mismanagement. Therefore, our constitution needs immediate revision…”

Brathwaite further noted that, in March 2015, Governor John Duncan decided against calls for a commission of inquiry in relation to Government’s multi-million dollar cruise pier/park project.

That decision, Brathwaite suggested, may have influenced the outcome of the last election.

“…The [governing] party’s activities escaped appropriate examination and scrutiny before the election. Consequently, they (members of the governing party) were allowed to steal the election,” Brathwaite said while noting that a snap election was held in June 2015.

Possible Independence

Brathwaite, who raised the issues during a national broadcast on Monday, stated that the current constitution would be too weak to take the British Virgin Islands into possible independence.

“Our constitution is very weak. It does not adequately provide and prepare for the political advancement of self-government as offered by the United Kingdom government, or discipline for the misconduct of our elected representatives.”

“This is something we have to desire for ourselves, [and] promote and test over a period of time to determine our readiness for possible independence. A strong and adequate constitution is absolutely necessary for good government, and a necessary preliminary and progressive step towards self-determination,” added Brathwaite.

Already, the National Democratic Party government has stated its intention to approach the United Kingdom in order to have another review of the Virgin Islands Constitution. Premier Dr D Orlando Smith recently said the move would be aimed at reducing the current powers enjoyed by the governor.

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