Amid the Commission of Inquiry (COI) underway in the BVI, the government announced that it will resume the publishing of Cabinet decisions as it aims to promote transparency and accountability.
The first of these decisions will be published on February 11, 2021 and will cover the period of decisions taken from the Cabinet’s first meeting held on January 7 this year.
Cabinet comprises the territory’s governor, the Premier, government ministers, the attorney general, and the Cabinet secretary who heads the group.
The step was taken to publicise decisions made in Cabinet meetings back in 2018, after a number of calls from then-Opposition Leader, Andrew Fahie.
However, in February 2020 — a year after taking office — the Fahie administration abruptly stopped publishing the Cabinet decisions. There were calls from the current parliamentary Opposition for the publication of these decisions to resume, but still they remained unpublished.
In a statement on the government’s official website, Cabinet explained that the COVID-19 crisis was the reason the publishing of the statements were halted.
“In 2020, the number of Cabinet meetings dramatically increased to 94, compared to 42 held in 2019. This was due to the government’s shift to urgently provide the necessary strategic response to the declaration by the World Health Organisation that COVID-19 had been characterised as a pandemic,” the statement said.
The statement further said that despite the halt in government’s post-Cabinet statements, the majority of Cabinet decisions made in 2020 were made public as part of government’s COVID-19 updates.
“Additionally, the Premier and Minister of Finance and ministers made statements in the House of Assembly based on COVID-19 related and unrelated Cabinet decisions; thereby maintaining government’s commitment to being accountable and transparent,” the statement explained.
The statement also said, going forward, the publishing of Cabinet decisions will be “strictly observed as much as possible”. It also said outstanding publications will be released in short order.
Other means of communication
Cabinet said the public should note that publishing its decisions aren’t the only means by which matters of territorial significance will continue to be communicated.
It said the government will continue to use all available means of mass communication to ensure residents and visitors are informed at all times.
The following guidelines will be observed when publishing Cabinet decisions:
• Cabinet decisions will be published by the Cabinet Office following confirmation of the minutes.
• Only a summary of the decisions will be published.
• Cabinet discussions will not be disclosed.
• Cabinet decisions of a sensitive nature, matters of national security, those in breach of regional or international conventions and those relating to personal privacy will not be disclosed.
• Cabinet decisions will be published in the Virgin Islands Official Gazette every Thursday at www.eservices.gov.vg/gazette and on Twitter.
The Cabinet meets every Wednesday and is supported by the Cabinet Office, which facilitates and monitors the implementation of executive decision-making within the government.
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