By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith is receiving serious opposition from members of his Government, and at least four of those members have momentarily aligned with the parliamentary Opposition.
Government backbenchers Delores Christopher, Melvin Turnbull, Archibald Christian, and Alvera Maduro-Caines have all collaborated with Opposition member Julian Fraser in a protest letter to the Premier.
Fraser publicly read the letter during Thursday’s sitting of the House of Assembly.
He read: “This letter serves to inform you (the Premier) that we the undersigned members of the House of Assembly (INAUDIBLE) put on record our objections to the establishment of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency and Board.”
The letter stated that the UK-mandated Agency was purporting to take control of government’s finances.
The parliamentarians went on to note that they were ‘protecting’ the future of Virgin Islanders.
They subsequently recommended that government borrow from local lenders to finance the BVI’s recovery plan.
Backbenchers say Premier not transparent
But, those were not the only qualms the aforementioned Government and Opposition members expressed in their letter to Dr Smith.
They accused the government leader of operating with a “blatant lack of transparency”.
“Our concerns are enlarged by the fact that much activities in ministries and departments have already begun without the knowledge and consent of ministers who constitutionally hold responsibility for those subjects,” the letter said.
Who is voting for the Agency?
Meanwhile, Christian and Christopher were the first government ministers to publicly speak out against the Premier and his touted Recovery Agency, which must be approved in the House of Assembly for it to be implemented.
With Government members Turnbull and Maduro-Caines added to the fold of Agency naysayers, the unofficial tally of parliamentarians who object to the Agency stands at six.
That tally comprises four government members and the two Opposition members.
A total of 13 legislators make up the House of Assembly.
By the looks of things, the Premier should get full support from the other four At-large government ministers.
Additionally, Government backbencher Hubert O’Neal has already stated his support for the Agency – making him the sixth legislator that may vote in the Premier’s favour.
Barring any legislator abstaining from voting for or against the Agency, it seems government backbencher Marlon Penn may be the swing vote.
And if the House of Assembly fails to agree to establish the Agency, the BVI will miss out on the United Kingdom’s offer of a £300 million loan guarantee.
The debate on the Recovery Agency began yesterday and continues in the House of Assembly today, March 23.
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