By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
Members of the National Democratic Party government should by now be discussing who will become their new finance minister, according to Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie, who said he will not name the person he thinks is best suited.
“I will not venture to recommend to the government who is best suited to be given the portfolio of Minister of Finance. They must have had these discussions before,” Fahie said in a speech released overnight.
He made the comments roughly five days before he moves a motion of no confidence in the House of Assembly, seeking to remove the current finance minister Dr D Orlando Smith who also is the Premier.
Fahie claimed that the Ministry of Finance is not getting the attention required, because Dr Smith is too busy undertaking his Premier duties.
“The Ministry of Finance needs urgent direct oversight. The Premier is extremely busy with international affairs at a time when eagle eyes are needed more than ever on the much scarce resources that we now have.”
“It is now impossible – given the time needed, to oversee the affairs of both the Premier and the Ministry of Finance, and do so effectively for both [portfolios] on behalf of the people. One of these portfolios will not get the needed attention that is rightfully deserved – and at this time it is the Ministry of Finance that is suffering the most,” Fahie continued.
“It is important to have someone assigned to deal with the scarce, scarce resources that we have at this time. These are the kind of dialogues that we should be having with the United Kingdom to better our territory, and to show that as leaders we can handle our finances ourselves, thereby ensuring that we get value for money [and] optimum return on every dollar spent.”
Not degrading the current minister
Fahie, in the meantime, said his move to have Premier Smith removed from the post of Minister of Finance should not be interpreted as an attempt to degrade the territory’s political leader.
“This is about enlightening the people – not seeking for power, nor seeking to degrade the Minister of Finance, nor seeking to degrade the Premier, nor seeking to fall the government, but rather to help us all. It is about saving the day. This is not about politics. We have to go down the right path. We must do so now, and not wait for a general election to do so.”
“Normally, the Leader of the Opposition will ask for the head of the leader of the government. But this is about finding solutions, not a quest for power,” Fahie said.
He noted that the Premier will still play a fundamental role in relation to the new person who would be appointed finance minister if his motion succeeds.
Fahie added that the government doesn’t have to look outside itself for a new Minister of Finance.
“I am sure that there are members on the government’s side who will embrace the challenge and change the direction of our present financial conduct. There are members who are qualified, and they have the discipline that is needed at this time to change the direction…” Fahie further said.
“The government has 11 members and the solution for this present moment is within them. Whomever they select to be the Minister of Finance can work hand in glove with the Premier and the Financial Secretary to turn this country into one that is accountable, one that stays in line with the tenants of the Protocol for Effective Financial Management, [and] one that will stay within the tenants of the Public Finance Management Act,” added Fahie.
He further said: “This course of action will allow us to have a country that we all will be proud of. I seek what everyone in the BVI seeks – to be empowered and to be part of a Virgin Islands that embraces good governance and fairness for all.”
In order for Fahie’s motion to succeed, it must get support from a number of Government lawmakers in the 13-member House of Assembly. Only two of those elected members are from the Opposition.
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