By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
Speaker of the House of Assembly Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe is being urged to ensure the policies governing parliament are upheld ‘despite the friendship’ she may share with parliamentarians.
Dr Natalio ‘Sowande’ Wheatley made that appeal on public radio Wednesday evening in light of Education Minister Myron Walwyn’s recent refusal to publicly read aloud the name of a government contractor who was hired to do repair works on the H Lavity Stoutt Community College after the hurricanes.
Questions were tabled in parliament that required Walwyn to name the contractor in question.
Section 18 of the BVI’s Legislative Council of Standing Orders – the rules that govern parliament – says when a member is asked questions from parliament’s order paper, “a written reply to each question shall be read by the minister to whom the question is put.”
Dr Wheatley, therefore, described Walwyn’s refusal to publicly answer the question he was asked as a “flagrant disregard for the Standing Orders in the House of Assembly”.
“I think it was a disrespect to the Speaker and I would have expected that the Speaker would ensure that the Standing Orders would have been adhered to,” Dr Wheatley argued.
He continued: “I would like to urge the Speaker – despite friendship or anything like that – to ensure that the House of Assembly is treated with the respect that it deserves and the people of the Virgin Islands are treated with the respect that we deserve by ensuring that the provisions of the Standing Orders are adhered to at all times.”
Gov’t behaving like public funds belong to them
Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie was the legislator who had requested the names of the aforementioned government contractor. Walwyn never spoke the name aloud but he handed Fahie a document with the name of the contractor in question.
Walwyn claims he refused from naming the contractor publicly because it would subject the contractor to public attacks. He later called for parliament policies to be changed so legislators don’t have to publicly name contractors in the House.
Notably, the government-owned HLSCC had issued the contract in question without the legally required bidding process being undertaken. HLSCC said it did not have a bidding process ‘as a matter of urgency’.
Commenting further on Walwyn’s refusal to name the hired contractor aloud, Dr Wheatley said: “Sometimes government officials behave as though the money belongs to them and that whatever they are doing in government is their private business. But, you can’t be private with the public’s business.”
“You can’t represent people and keep secrets from people. You can’t hide their affairs from them and figure they don’t have to know.”
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