BVI News

Gov’t will not squander additional power, Premier hints

Julian Fraser (right) and Premier Smith meet face to face during a recent event

By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith this week downplayed claims that certain shortcomings in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) may result in the territory not being given much greater self-determination.

He previously announced that his government is gearing up to approach the United Kingdom for another review of the Virgin Islands Constitution, which would effectively see more power entrusted in local politicians and less in the governor.

However, during a sitting of the House of Assembly this week, Opposition member Julian Fraser suggested that the United Kingdom is unlikely to give local politicians much more power because those local politicians have not done enough to elevate the status quo in the BVI.

“You haven’t built the institutions that are necessary in order for you to advance your constitution. Those are the cases that they (members of the United Kingdom government) are building against us; and we can’t see,” Fraser said.

He also popped some questions that he thinks the United Kingdom is mulling: “You can’t even find an Auditor General in your country; what are you looking for? What are you asking us (United Kingdom) for? You can’t find a Director of Public Prosecutions in your country; what are you asking us for?”

Fraser also said: “If we are going to the United Kingdom to make a claim that we are deserving of our constitutional advancement, we better have the facts to back it up. Why are we going?”

He, in the meantime, suggested that the United Kingdom has a responsibility to ensure that its territory matures. “If we can’t mature to this level in the 21st century, when else? When else is it gonna happen?” added Fraser.

Premier Smith, in response, claimed that whenever local politicians get more power they automatically act more responsibly.

“As members have said before in this House, whenever there is a constitutional advancement in this country, we also see improvements in our situation… As the country gets more and more responsibilities, it behaves more and more responsibly towards the economic and of course other circumstances in the country.”

Premier Smith further noted. “It is true that we have to continue to advance; we’ve got to continue to seek constitutional changes.”

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