Chairman of the Opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Andrew Fahie has questioned whether Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith abused his power when he forced Bishop John Cline to resign as Chairman of the state-owned BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA).
Fahie noted that he would like the Court of Appeal to clarify that and other contentious issues involving members of the Smith administration.
Premier Smith last week demanded Bishop Cline’s resignation from the statutory board after the clergyman publicly agreed that the premier should hand over the Ministry of Finance to Ronnie Skelton, who is the current minister of health.
Reacting to the forced resignation, Fahie yesterday said: “It is not for me to delve into the reasons why the Chairman was asked to resign, but this incident clearly illuminates the imaginary line that this government continues to draw between what the laws says should be done, and what they believe should be done.”
“The Chairman of the BVI Health Services Authority, in accordance with the law, was appointed by Cabinet. That begs the question: Does the premier without the approval of Cabinet has the authority to demand the resignation of the chairman (Cline)?”
Fahie noted that the BVIHSA is a statutory body which, according to the attorney general and the government, is not considered a part of Government for ‘contractual purposes’.
“Yet, interestingly, the chairman of this statutory board can be summarily removed,” Fahie reasoned.
“My people, this is one of the reasons why it is imperative that we obtain clear and binding interpretation of Section 67 of the Constitution – among other Sections, so that those in office are not allowed to make such arbitrary decisions.”
Court of Appeal
Fahie wants the attorney general to ask the Court of Appeal to determine – among other things – the general relationship between Government and statutory bodies, especially as it relates to contracts.
“It is for these types of reasons (including Bishop Cline’s forced resignation) why I have sought for a reference to be made to our Court of Appeal. If there was any doubt whether this reference should be made, this should remove such doubts once and for all.”
Fahie, in a statement that covers several issues, yesterday promised to continue to use the House of Assembly to hold the government accountable.
People are afraid to speak out
Meanwhile, former election candidate for the Opposition VIP, Rajah Smith, has added his voice to those condemning Bishop Cline’s forced resignation.
“People are afraid to speak out. Look what happened the other day with Bishop John Cline coming out and speaking his mind on a relevant topic, talking about the finances in the territory. All he did was agree with a statement that somebody made and he was forced to resign.”
“But I want to tell people out there, do not be afraid to speak your mind. Continue to speak; they can’t fire all of you. I would like more people to stand up. Whether you support or oppose a party, your voice must be heard,” Smith declared last evening during an appearance on the Straight Talk radio programme hosted by Donald DeCastro.
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