By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
While announcing an earlier-than-planned timeframe for General Election, Governor Agustus Jaspert called for legislators to band together and get as many laws passed between now and the April 2019 election deadline. But, Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie believes that will be virtually impossible.
“The banding together is not a problem for me … [but] whatever laws that need to be passed on the eve of election is going to be difficult. I agree with the governor but it’s going to be difficult given what’s happening within the government,” Fahie said.
What started off months ago as a flicker of internal discord among a once-united National Democratic Party (NDP) ended in a public eruption of resignations, ministerial termination, at least one member NDP moving over to the parliamentary opposition, and the formation of a breakaway political party now known as the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement.
Sufficient gov’t members hardly ever present for parliament
The opposition leader said even if there was not a rift within the party, the Smith-led administration’s attendance record in the House of Assembly still makes the chances of getting certain laws passed between now the election considerably low.
“Everyone knows that the government had 11 members and everyone knows that to get a quorum (the minimum number of legislators that must be present to begin a sitting), you need any combination of seven members. Everyone knows that the Opposition only has two members and anyone who is even halfway good at maths knows that, without the two members, once government shows up, they can proceed. But the government, nine out of 10 times — I believe it’s safe to use that statistic — needs both opposition members to be present in order for the meeting to begin because we are the ones that are there,” Fahie argued.
“So, whatever legislation has not been passed so far cannot be blamed on the Opposition. It is a matter of a dysfunctional government continuing to run the territory … It is not fair to the people of the Virgin Islands what is happening to their government that they elected.”
A list of legislation that the government promised to implement this year and even previous years are still yet to be brought before the House.
Some of the yet-to-be-implemented legislation includes the Consumer Protection Bill, and the Freedom of Information law, which already exists in several democratic societies regionally and internationally.
“The opposition doesn’t bring legislation, the government brings them. So, if there is any legislation that has not been brought, then there is only one path you can direct your concerns, which is to the government.”
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