Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie has claimed that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr Marcia Potter has no legal authority to have written to the auditor general, requesting an investigation into a contract given to a private firm more than six years ago when Fahie served as education minister.
The permanent secretary made the request after Minister of Education Myron Walwyn, who is a lawyer, recently threatened to have Fahie investigated regarding the $602,345 contract, which was awarded for overseas company Effect Inc to examine the feasibility of establishing a medical school locally.
Walwyn, this week, also accused Fahie of misleading the House of Assembly years ago when he (Fahie) responded to questions regarding the contract.
Fahie, in a statement on Friday (March 31), said he was not involved in any wrongdoing when he was education minister.
He added, “My concern is that the minister – after six years in office – seems unaware that neither the Auditor General, the Public Accounts Committee, nor any constitutional body can be directed by him as minister, and indeed not by a civil servant.”
“His attempt to derogate the professionalism of the civil service is truly unforgiving. While the minister’s ignorance is self-revealing, I am convinced that senior civil servants are aware of their authority or lack thereof. The question therefore is: What is the motivation of this bully minister and this bully government?” Fahie further said.
“First and foremost, I can assure the public that this latest attempt will conclude with the same result as when you the public go to any government ministry, department or the Treasury seeking payment for work done under this government – nothing there! I can further assure the public that anything that was done during my tenure [as education minister] can and will stand the test of time. This then is not my concern.”
Trying to intimidate and distract
Fahie, in the meantime, accused the government headed by Premier Dr D Orlando Smith of trying to intimidate and distract him.
“The premier and his bully government will have to appreciate that these distraction tactics including attempts to try to intimidate, discredit, as well as to instill fear will not work, because God did not give me nor you the people of the Virgin Islands a spirit of fear…”
“For now, I will conclude by informing the bully minister and this bully government that I will not be distracted from the mission of restoring accountability, transparency, and good governance to these Virgin Islands. No matter how long moonlight runs, daylight will catch it. And they must be aware that ‘when destruction is your motivation, your motivation becomes your destruction,” Fahie further said.
Fahie went on to accuse the government of placing the territory in what he described as a path of direct British sanction.
“As I have stated before, the issues are constitutional, and the continued violation of these has placed us directly in the path of direct British sanctions and eventual intervention.”
“Crime is now a challenge. The economy is not robust. There is no accountability. There is no transparency. Residents do not feel safe like before. Many projects under this government are not in conformity with the constitution, the Protocols for Effective Financial Management, nor the Public Finance Management Act. Instead of these being this government’s focus, they have chosen to make trying to discredit me their agenda. Six years later and the extensive list of poor financial conduct by this government is a concern to everyone,” added Fahie.
Fahie also said it would be best if the education minister directs Premier Smith, who also serves as finance minister, to take the FOLLOWING ACTIONS:
- To complete and deliver to the House of Assembly the constitutionally mandated 10 years of audited financial statements.
- To allow the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands to seek from the courts a clear definition and a clear guide of what constitutes conflict of interest, and what contracts must be presented to the House of Assembly for approval by ministers and all Assembly members.
- And to advise that a Commission of Inquiry into the $30 million of unauthorized expenditure on the [Tortola] Pier Park project would be in the best interest of the territory.
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