Sir Gary Hickinbottom has concluded that governance under the control of elected public officials in the BVI is uniformly very poor and lacks checks and balances.
The United Kingdom (UK) appointed Commissioner of the now concluded Commission of Inquiry (COI) made that conclusion in his report which was presented to Governor John Rankin several weeks ago.
“With limited exceptions, the evidence received by the COI shows that governance within the areas of BVI government under the control of the elected public officials is, at best, very poor,“ Sir Gary said in his report.
According to Sir Gary, principles of governance such as openness and transparency were not simply just absent but were positively shunned.
He said proper procedures were not only lacking, but were patently inadequate for their purpose or were ignored or bypassed.
Evidence is overwhelming
Sir Gary found that the evidence was overwhelming on this front and extended to almost all areas of government.
As examples of this, he pointed to the registration of interests, distribution of public funds by way of grants, procurement and implementation of contracts, statutory boards, disposal of Crown Land, and residence and Belonger status.
Sir Gary said the evidence suggests that this attitude to the principles of governance was pervasive in the entire BVI government under the control of elected ministers.
Sir Gary found that this had been the case for several years and across several different governing administrations.
The Commissioner further noted that while some witnesses that appeared before the COI resolutely sought to focus on changes being made or considered, that in itself was an admission that all is not well.
Sir Gary said that former Premier Andrew Fahie and elected ministers said this failure in governance was in large part a consequence of deficiencies in the public service.
At the time, the government said the public service is underqualified, under-trained, under-resourced and outdated as a result of neglect by successive governors. Under the constitution, governors in the BVI traditionally have a responsibility for the public service.
But Sir Gary said he did not find a case supporting this narrative made out by the government.
“The elected ministers do not offer any other substantial explanation for the parlous state of governance,” Sir Gary found.
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