While stating that his government welcomes a transparent Commission of Inquiry, government minister Carvin Malone has questioned the basis of the investigations announced by Governor Augustus Jaspert on Monday.
Responding to the governor’s announcement of an inquiry on behalf of Fahie administration, Malone gave strong suggestions that the soon-to-launched probe contravenes the intention of the Act that governs the Commission.
Malone started by quoting an excerpt from the Commission of Inquiry Act (Cap. 237 Section 2).
“It shall be lawful for the Governor whenever he shall deem it advisable, to issue a commission appointing one or more commissioners, and authorising such commissioners, or any quorum of them therein mentioned, to inquire into the conduct or management of any department of the public service in the territory or of any public officer of the territory, or of any parish or district, or into any matter in which an inquiry would, in the opinion of the Governor, be for the public welfare,” Malone cited.
“Each such commission shall specify the subject of inquiry…” he added.
Governor’s statement did not specify an inquiry
Using those citations as premise for his argument, Malone said that based on Governor Jaspert’s announcement of the investigations, it did not specify what the Commission is investigating as required by the Act.
He said: “The Act directs that any inquiry shall be specific. If there exist other specific concerns which have not been examined by the Public Accounts Committee, the Auditor General, or the Police, this should be clearly stated and due process allowed.”
“As stated on numerous occasions by the governor, a Commission of Inquiry would only be conducted based on facts and not rumours and unfounded allegations,” he further argued.
Institutions of accountability should be utilised first
Malone further said the measures being taken by the governor currently sidestep the processes local institutions take to ensure accountability and transparency.
Such processes include the drafting of annual reports for government agencies and Malone argued that they should not be skipped.
“It is only after these stages of the process are completed and investigations deemed inconclusive would the way be paved for a Commission of Inquiry. This has always been the process followed because it is the only process that allows for good governance to function in a manner that keeps the tenets of democracy sacred,” he explained.
“Governor Jaspert further stated to Cabinet Members on numerous occasions that to ensure due process, all government institutions established to ensure accountability, transparency and good governance would be allowed to function and produce their reports,” Malone further said.
VIP government continues to inquire on outstanding scandals
Malone’s statement also made mention of three of the territory’s largest scandals to date — ones that occurred under the previously governing National Democratic Party.
According to Malone, his government has been actively working to get to the bottom of the cases which require investigations.
He said: “Starting in March 2019, weeks after taking office, this Government Administration under the leadership of Premier Andrew A. Fahie made and continues to make inquiries of Governor Augustus Jaspert concerning the steps to be taken in an effort to clear the names of accused persons in relation to any of the three major investigations that were conducted by the Public Accounts Committee, the Auditor General, and/or the Police, namely: a. The Pier Park Project, b. BVI Airways [and] c. The Elmore Stoutt High School Wall.”
Malone said no further comments on the matter be forthcoming from his government until more details on the investigation is revealed to his administration.
Copyright 2021 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.