While making it clear that neither himself nor members of his administration had a hand in deciding who was appointed permanent secretaries of government ministries, Premier Andrew Fahie said Governor August Jaspert has shown he has no faith in the Public Service Commission (PSC).
Under the Virgin Islands Constitution, the PSC is the body responsible for recommending who should be appointed into the posts.
Fahie said while the governor was constitutionally within his rights when he recently rejected the PSC’s recommendations, doing so “signalled his lack of confidence in the members of the Commission to perform in a manner that protects Her Majesty’s service”.
“This is a very serious aspersion that the governor has cast on the members of the Commission who are among the brightest minds of the Virgin Islands with long, unblemished careers and who are stalwarts of our territory,” Premier Fahie said in a media release titled ‘Setting the Record Straight RE: the Appointment of Permanent Secretaries‘.
He continued: “I am not privy to whether the consultation that is required according to the Constitution took place between the Governor and the PSC. However, if the proper constitutionally prescribed procedure was followed, the members of the Commission would have been asked to reconsider their recommendations and to submit new recommendations if they wish. Assuming proper procedures were followed, the PSC would have affirmed, and reaffirmed, its confidence in its recommendations after being asked to reconsider their submission.”
Notwithstanding the governor’s actions, Fahie reiterated that the BVI would continue to be respectful to the United Kingdom; however, respect “ought to be a two-way street.”
PSC is independent
Additionally, the Premier said some ‘internet trolls’ are suggesting that the PSC is biased towards his government and himself is mischievous
He however made it clear that “the PSC is an independent institution.”
He pointed to section 91(1) of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 that states that the five members of the PSC are appointed by the Governor, two acting in his own discretion, and one each in accordance with the advice of the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, and after consultation with the Civil Service Association.
“All the sitting members of the PSC were appointed during the term of the last government, not during the tenure of this current six-month-old administration. Four of those commissioners were not appointed based on any input from the current Premier, and two of those persons were selected by the Governor himself, including the Chairman of the PSC,” Fahie argued.
He added, “Where Section 91(2) of the Constitution Order requires the Governor to consult with the Premier in appointing the Chairman of the PSC. I was not the Premier at the time of that appointment, and therefore His Excellency, The Governor, would have consulted with the previous Premier. How then can the PSC be painted as biased to the new government? It does not compute.”
In the meantime, the Premier said since his announcement there has been a flood of commentary on the social media channels and online news sites containing inaccurate and misleading information.
“The Internet trolls appear to be well organised and focused on substituting their misinformation in place of the truth, to create a distorted reality of what has taken place and to further their clear agenda to discredit and undermine your democratically elected government for the benefit of some other hidden interest,” Fahie said.
He said it was also ‘unfortunate’ that there were some inaccurate reporting from members of the media, which has only served to compound the confusion.
“Much of this tainted discourse purports that it was the Premier and the newly elected government that attempted to appoint individuals to the posts of Permanent Secretaries. Therefore, the Governor has blocked the “government’s picks. This is not true.”
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