Chairman of Progressives United (PU) Julian Fraser — a legislator who could be described as one of Premier Dr D Orlando Smith’s greatest critics — this week saluted Dr Smith as a strong government leader.
Dr Smith who served in the local politicals for roughly two decades is not seeking re-election in the February 25 general election.
“Doc, you are something else. Nothing bothers you. You never get rattled. Trust me I tried to rattle you sometimes but you never get rattled. So I have to give you credit for that. You are a rock,” Fraser told Dr Smith moments before the House of Assembly dissolved on Wednesday.
Fraser also commended Dr Smith for doing well in his capacity as Premier and Minister of Finance during ‘difficult times’.
“I have seen you conduct government business under strenuous circumstances especially these last few months. You were an inspiration with that financial services,” said Fraser who is hoping to become the next premier of the Virgin Islands.
Very capable leadership
The politician further said he thinks Dr Smith is very capable and sure about how to handle the financial services trouble bedevilling the territory.
“I sympathize with you because it is out of your control … and I appreciate it,” he told the premier.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom granted it’s Overseas Territories, including the BVI, something of a reprieve as it relates to implementing what are known as public registers of beneficial ownership.
The UK’s Sanction’s and Anti-Money Laundering Act mandates that the BVI must implement public registers by the year 2020. But in a recent statement, Britain’s minister responsible for Overseas Territory’s Lord Tariq Ahmad said an order mandating that the BVI implement the registers by 2023 will be imposed if the territory misses the 2020 deadline. This means the BVI has the option of going a significant three additional years without implementing the dreaded public registers.
Britain’s 2023 reprieve is speculated by factions of the UK community to be because of efforts from leaders like Premier Smith who threatened to take legal action against the UK.
Fraser, in the meantime, said another area worthy of note was when he and the Premier worked together on the territory’s constitution.
“I noticed the way you dealt with that – calm. And it was somewhat unusual to see a person like you in that role,” Fraser said.
Time to move on
While also making remarks about his departure from politics, Dr Smith said now is an opportune time for him to move on.
“I think it is time for me to look at some other options which I have, and I am satisfied that during the term that I was here I gave it my best.”
Dr Smith added: I know there is a lot more that could have been done but … the time goes by very quickly and it is difficult sometimes to get what you want to be done.”