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Vanterpool: Consider the governor’s criticism

Vanterpool

Vanterpool

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said the governor acted inappropriately when he criticized the government during a public event this month.

But Minister of Communication and Works Mark Vanterpool wants the government to seriously consider Governor John Duncan’s criticism.

“He has some criticisms which we obviously have to look at. Nothing is wrong with being criticized,” Vanterpool told BVI News Online during an interview on Wednesday.

He added, “Once the criticism is well-intended, we should begin to look at it and see what has to be done right.”

In the meantime, Premier Smith, during a press briefing yesterday, was asked if he thinks Governor Duncan acted appropriately when he blurted out the criticism during an event to launch an educational programme at Her Majesty’s Prison.

The premier, in response to journalists, said: “Let me put it this way, I was taken aback by the governor’s statement, which I thought was not appropriate for the occasion. I also want to add that we all work well together with the governor and all the ministers of government. We have frank discussions in Cabinet, all leading to having what is best for the territory.”

“An example of how we can work closely together is, in my negotiations with the EU and UK, etcetera in financial services, the governor has been very helpful,” added the premier.

Defends action on police, legislation

Governor Duncan this month questioned why the BVI should seek independence or greater self-determination when it is having a difficulty putting measures in place to even ensure human rights are upheld, and Government is made transparent and accountable.

He also criticized the government for dragging its feet regarding crucial pieces of legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act, adding that the administration also continues to reduce the budgetary allocation to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.

In response, Premier Smith yesterday said: “We support the police both inside the budget and outside the budget. Just last year, outside the budget, we agreed to provide funding for I think at least 30 extra police officers and several vehicles…”

“As you know, a budget is a budget and, during the budget, you have to make a decision as to what programmes will be carried through in that budget, and decisions made by the Cabinet can be taken to the House [of Assembly], and everybody looks at it, and a final decision is made,” the premier added.

Governor John Duncan (left) and Premier Dr D Orlando Smith

Governor John Duncan (left) and Premier Dr D Orlando Smith

Turning to the governor’s concern about the delay in passing some important pieces of legislation, Premier Smith suggested that the delay is sometimes justified.

“Several of the Bills which the governor spoke about are also on the table for discussion, and some of these Bills that we need to present to the House [of Assembly] take quite lot of discussion; take quite a lot of research; and take quite a lot of negotiating before they are properly presented to the House, because we want to make sure that whatever we do is in the best interest of the people of the territory.”

“And sometimes even when we do that – when we carry Bills to the House – sometimes very shortly after – there is need for amendments or to change some things,” said Premier Smith.

Not discouraged

The premier further told journalists that his spirit is not dampened by criticisms he has been receiving especially in recent times from persons who are usually supportive of him.

When asked if he feels discouraged, Premier Smith replied: “No, because what I am doing here is putting in the time and the care necessary, and meeting with my colleagues to having those discussions – and having discussions with the public, as well as to ensure that we can continue to build an economy for the benefit of the people of the BVI.”

“What I will say is that we work together as a team – the members of government, and we all contribute to all the discussions that go on – whether it’s in financial services; whether it’s in tourism; whether it’s in health; whatever. We make decisions that are collective. So as long as I know that whatever decision we are making is in the best of the territory, I am fine with that,” Premier Smith further told journalists.

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