BVI News

Neil shouldn’t carry all the blame! Pickering defends former financial secretary about BVI Airways

Former Deputy Premier under the previous NDP administration, Dr Kedrick Pickering has come to the defence of former Financial Secretary Neil Smith who has been blamed for acting negligently in his decision-making as it relates to government’s deal with the defunct airline, BVI Airways.

The former government legislator said Smith should not be the one to carry all the blame in the controversy.

“For the record, the Neil Smith I know could never under any circumstances be in a position to benefit directly from government’s finances. In other words, the Neil Smith I know can never be accused of thieving anything. I can say that without any fear of contradiction,” Dr Pickering said during an interview on the Honestly Speaking radio programme on Tuesday, June 30.

“No one person can just take government’s money. It just cannot happen. There are checks and balances in the system where that cannot happen. It doesn’t give one person the authority to write a cheque and the cheque gets written. The Financial Secretary has to account to the Minister of Finance and he has to account ultimately to Cabinet,” the former legislator added. 

Dr Pickering said Smith did not act or make decisions independently.

“All of us (the former National Democratic Party (NDP) Cabinet) has to be responsible. One person shouldn’t be left out on a limb to hang and dry. We cannot have a system where if things go wrong, one person is just left out to dry because we all invariably working together and decisions are made in a collective way and, all of us shared the responsibilities,” he added.

Previous reports had been submitted to governor?

In the meantime, Dr Pickering said both the former Minister of Finance as well as Smith submitted what he described as official reports on the matter. However, he said those reports have not been published, adding that he does not know why.

Dr Pickering further said the reports were presented to the Governor.

Deal was attractive

While making it clear that he did not have direct responsibility for the BVI Airways project because it was handled under the Ministry of Finance, he said the project was compelling.

He said the development of the TB Lettsome International Airport was going to take years to get done. And while the idea wasn’t new when it was presented to the government, “it was an idea that came about that if the financing was put in place, it could be done and it could be done within a specified period of time”.

He added that the project would have given the territory a ‘jump start’ on the airport development. 

“So, it was an attractive idea, so it was pursued.”

Dr Pickering said it was also viewed as a way of “getting ahead of the game” in bringing visitors directly to the BVI from Miami and a method to boost economic development.

The Auditor General’s report

A special Auditor General’s report on the airline deal indicated that Smith, who was government’s official liaison for the project, broke protocol on several occasions and failed to properly ventilate significant matters before making certain decisions.

The Auditor General’s report further said Smith facilitated for the airline’s operator parties to have ongoing high-level access and support from within the government.

The report said there was an absence of the “acute level of scrutiny that should have been applied to the financial and other issues” associated with the $7.2 million deal. 

The matter is now under a criminal investigation.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

32 Comments

Disclaimer: BVI News and its affiliated companies are not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the comments below or other interaction among the users.

  1. Hmmm says:

    Thank you Doc. I too is of the opinion that Neil didn’t steal any money. But as you have correctly stated government has protocol and as the Chief financial officer for the government he should have ensure he uphold those protocols and for that reason he is negligent.

    He had a duty to safeguard government’s finances and that duty was breached.

    Like 22
    Dislike 1
  2. marley says:

    I think its fair

  3. Yawn says:

    Can somebody tell this ***** okra to go back under a rock please. Dr. Pickering you were a terrible representative and minister of government. Your interest was always your rich, white friends and not the local people who elected you. It is time for people like you to take a hike.

    Like 13
    Dislike 7
    • Seriously! says:

      We may not like him, but his input is valid and should be given the merit it deserves as a former deputy premier and member of the NDP. Hate the man if you wis, but don’t hate the truth…

  4. Pig says:

    Picko on the record again to the world. Something leader of opposition Marlon Penn would not do for Neil Smith. He would rather sink everyone involve in BVI Airways and try come out looking good. The ndp messed up big time with even choosing a decent and upstanding leader.

    Like 10
    Dislike 2
    • Swine says:

      Stop talking crap! Who you expect to set the record straight isn’t the ones who made the decisions? Kedrick was right in the thick of it thats why he have to speak up. What crap you dragging Hon. Penn in? He should go and speak out on something that he know nothing about. He wasn’t in cabinet how would he know what was discussed or decided?.

      Call on the other 4 Ministers who made the decision and you have Mark sitting in the house why didn’t he speak? I agree with Hon. Penn don’t carry any of these people burden. Let them speak for their own actions.

      Like 10
      Dislike 2
      • @swine says:

        You prove the point swine man!!!! Smurf like he don’t know anything turn a moo cow conman in chains. The ndp was a broken vessel trying to sell stale fish to poison people. These the type should be expelled from politics period. Picko lord you still lame but you got guts to stand up beside Neil.

        Like 3
        Dislike 3
        • What's your point really! says:

          You seem to have an axe to Grind with the man personally, go look for him for that. I don’t know what Hon. Penn knows or doesn’t know. My point is simple, It is not his responsibility to explain the actions of the cabinet. You have a former minister in the house and the other 4 ministers including the former premier. Why haven’t any of them spoken up until now? Why should he carry their burden? If I was him I wouldn’t do it and I Hope He doesn’t. Let them answer for their own actions. Your personal axe you have to grind, deal with that with Hon. Penn directly.

          Like 7
          Dislike 1
        • Smh says:

          you obviously don’t know how the branches of government work. Smh. Hon. Penn was not a minister at that time. Therefore, he was a part of cabinet. So let me make it plain for you….HE WAS NOT IN THE ROOM WHEN THE CONVERSATIONS WERE HAD AND THE DECISIONS WERE MADE!!!! only former members of cabinet can speak on this matter. Thd man cant speak to what he doesn’t know. Stop coming on here to air your personal greviences. Learn the process!

  5. I from Here says:

    so now the NDP is dead forever gone! never to return to office what is the governor’s role

    Like 5
    Dislike 4
  6. E. Leonard says:

    Dr. Kedrick Pickering, former Deputy Premier, coming to the defense of former FS Neil Smith is noteworthy. It is also newsworthy that there are internal controls in place for expending public funds. However, there needs to be more controls in place. The HOA must be more involved in the appropriating of funds beyond the authorizing of the budget.

    IMO the full HOA should have been engaged in a $7.2M appropriation. At or beyond a certain maximum dollar threshold, the full HOA should be engaged in the debate and decision to appropriate or not. It brings sunlight to the process. There must be a mark degree of separation between Legislative and Executive branches. Now, they are 6 of one half a dozen of the same. The process is flawed. Fix should be an item on constitutional review.

    Like 5
    Dislike 4
    • What? says:

      What does a constitutional review has to do with a contract that could only be deemed a gentleman’s handshake and weak internal controls?

      Like 3
      Dislike 3
  7. Just Wrong says:

    Doc. 7.2 Million. Read that again. Talk about “hoodwinked”.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  8. Hmmm says:

    Thank you Mr. Pickering. I was wondering who will come to Neil’s rescue, since the NDP is keeping silent, they using the man as a scapegoat and those that are still in the house are not saying anything.I do agree with you that he is not to be blamed that the entire NDP Party are to be. They have made foolish decisions on behalf of the people without going to the people before making a decision. I do only hope that the VIP government learns from this fiasco, and consult the people before making and implementing any decision.

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
    • @Hmmm says:

      How many Acts already passed in HoA in the sitting administration that have not been discussed with the people…

      Plenty.

    • Smh says:

      Marijuana project, Lifelabs, and the list goes on…. plenty deals they are currently making without bringing it to the ppl. Do we really know what they are signing us up for? Lets see the contracts because these deals are feeling a lot like Biwater all over again and the same players are now at the table again. Hmmm food for thought.

  9. Understood says:

    However, the blame will be put on him, he is the fall guy. Perfect example of the Government making decisions and shutting the people out.

    Like 8
    Dislike 1
    • @Understood says:

      I agree with your comment. Neil is going to be the fall guy in this mess. Not right but, that is the way it is looking. Sorry Neil, I hope everything turns out well for you.

      Like 4
      Dislike 2
  10. Bystander says:

    Kedrick move your **** self, you need to be j***** more than neil or held accountable

    Like 9
    Dislike 4
  11. Eagle eye says:

    For that kind of money even them tola pastors will turn a blind eye.so give us Facts over Feelings please.

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  12. Hmmm says:

    The former premier under the NDP administration should have been the first to come to his defence. Ah well, we will watch this pan out.

  13. Local says:

    Doc is a *** Man.

  14. Ex-NDP says:

    I will not waste a good minute on ndp upnder the current leader opposition. Ndp is dead. Imagine picko not even elected but at least giving insight.

    Like 4
    Dislike 2
  15. GTFOH says:

    We just need a nice long jail sentence to deter all potential wrong doing from members of government. Dr Smith home living la vida loca while another government have to deal with this mess and $7.2 million down the drain just like that. That’s what happen when you have too many yes men on the team not one of them ****** could have said Doc this looks too good to be true or why we paying them and the job ain’t done.

    Like 9
    Dislike 1
    • Deh Watcha says:

      This is why Neil Smith, is in the firing range.

      He was a yes man, instead of a do what is supposed to be done man.

      Like 7
      Dislike 1
  16. Simple says:

    Neil is the fall guy for the 2 Doctors.

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  17. popcorn please says:

    Dr. Pickering said he did not read the report. The report said that cabinet did not approve the payment of the money in the way it was paid. How is the cabinet at fault again except if the auditor general is lying? Its good that he came to the defence of his friend though.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
    • Smh says:

      He made clears thqt other reports were done and were at the disposal of the auditor general that were not taken into consideration. Hmmm I question her motives on this one. If there is additional information that gives a clear picture why leave it out?

  18. knows says:

    dr pickering you needto shuy up the MDP day comming you better who have to ka who have to take the blamer cover up yes nei should not take all the bsame but it have a lot of you who is going to take te nait watch your language

  19. East man says:

    I agree with you “Picko” anyone that knows him would know hands down he is a legitimate guy. The question is, did he have the stones to have challange the then party leader and his squadron? Obviously not. There is more to politics than meets the eye so Neil, you will have to take a beating for now. Dont worry it builds characters. Over and out.

Leave a Comment

Shares