BVI News

Duncan chides gov’t amid talks about independence

Governor John Duncan

Governor John Duncan

Accused of being too friendly with the National Democratic Party (NDP) government, Governor John Duncan yesterday declared that the days of governors ‘kissing babies are well and truly over’.

He, in the same breath, chided the government over its handling of various aspects of the territory’s affairs – from the allocation of funds to the prioritization of projects.

The governor’s apparent conclusion is: The BVI does not seem ready to competently manage its affairs if granted independence, or greater self-determination amid increased calls even in political circles for constitutional review.

Addressing an audience that included Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, Governor Duncan further suggested that the United Kingdom would be concerned about granting more power to local politicians if they continue to drag their feet on implementing basic proposals to ensure human rights are upheld, and Government is made transparent and accountable.

“I am sure that the United Kingdom (UK) would be very willing to consider independence, and certainly willing to consider constitutional review. But they, like I, will be asking for certain things to be done,” the governor said while noting relatively lengthy delays in passing proposed legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act, and legislation to protect whistle-blowers.

Governor Duncan also noted the failure to establish the long-awaited Human Rights Council.

Less focus on locals

The governor, whose tenure will end in the coming months, also chided the NDP government for not prioritizing the funding of certain projects and facilities that mostly cater to locals.

He suggested that greater priority is being given to initiatives targeting international business such as players in the financial services industry.

Governor Duncan noted, for example, that the government seems more willing to spend on the Arbitration Court and the Commercial Court – but not on the Magistrate’s Court that remains in poor condition.

He also noted that operations at the Registry of the Supreme Court have been interrupted due to what Government said is an ‘air quality situation’.

“It could be said that we spend more money on expatriate legal services than we do for our own legal people. I know that the premier and Cabinet are keen to address that,” the governor said.

He lamented that the budget for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force has been slashed by 46 percent since 2012, and that a roof repair project at Her Majesty’s Prison is yet to complete after two-and-a-half years.

Governor Duncan was speaking yesterday (February 13) at Her Majesty’s Prison during the launch of the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence Educational and Vocational Programme.

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