Premier Andrew Fahie said it wouldn’t have been ‘right’ for him to vote to reprimand Governor Augustus Jaspert since the House of Assembly is just as guilty in other matters.
A motion had been moved to reprimand the governor for violating Section 20(2) of Act when he neglected to deliver the Auditor General’s special report about BVI Airways within the legally-prescribed three-month timeframe.
“I couldn’t join to vote against the lateness of the BVI Airways [report] because, over the years, the House itself was late with many things,” argued Fahie, who said he was criticised for supporting the governor instead of his ‘own people’.
“It wasn’t that I agreed that the report wasn’t late. The report was late,” Fahie added. “But, the point about it is; why are you going to chastise … when there are so many things outstanding by us? That’s the premise why I didn’t vote for it. And I believe in sitting on a principle. I can’t crucify a man for something that we don’t do in right ourselves.”
“So I was not joining anybody to go after the governor at that time,” he added.
Supplementary bill to balance gov’t books six years late
The Premier gave that explanation while debating a supplementary bill in the House on Monday, June 22.
According to the Virgin Islands Constitution, a supplementary bill must be brought to the House to ‘regularise’ or balance the territory’s financial accounts when monies allocated for a particular purpose were either underbudgeted for or not budgeted at all.
They are usually brought at the end of the financial year that the monies were used. But, the bill that was tabled in the House on Monday — the Supplementary Appropriation (2014) Act — is a glaring six years late.
“This is monies reallocated in 2014 that we’re coming now in 2020 to regularise … The parallels of it [and the governor’s lateness] are the same,” Fahie reasoned.
The Fahie-led VIP government inherited the responsibility to table this late bill from the previous NDP administration.
The Premier, in the meantime, underscored that penalties need to be implemented to deter officials such as legislators and the governor from committing these violations.
“So until we wake up in the House and put some penalties to guard our actions and police ourselves then we have an issue,” Fahie said.
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