Senior legislator in the House of Assembly Julian Fraser has suggested that Governor Augustus Jaspert is executing a hidden agenda on behalf of the BVI’s sovereign nation, the United Kingdom.
Fraser, who has served in representational politics for the last two decades, gave that indication following the governor’s ‘unprecedented’ move to personally determine who should sit as Permanent Secretaries in the various government ministries.
“They know what they are doing. They are up to something. This never happens. You don’t just do that because every minister was given that privilege to decide who he wanted as his Permanent Secretary and the Premier or Chief Minister stood up with them,” Fraser said while speaking in the House of Assembly on Monday, September 2.
The politician of some 20 years added: “Never for the time I’ve been in government or in the opposition in this House of Assembly have I ever heard that a Governor imposes a Permanent Secretary on any ministry.”
Fraser then urged legislators and the wider public to be watchful of the governor.
“When you see a governor doing this, they got a mandate. Watch him. Stay focused. Any time those things start happening, you sliding down a slippery slope,” he said.
‘I am head of BVI government’, Governor reportedly says
Premier Andrew Fahie, in the meantime, has described the governor’s actions as an insult. Sharing recent interactions between himself and the governor, Fahie said Governor Jaspert made statements to suggest that he (Jaspert) is the ultimate leader of the Virgin Islands.
Fahie said Governor Jaspert described himself “both as head of government here and as the UK representative”.
Commenting on those sentiments in Monday’s House of Assembly, Fahie said: “He actually thinks that he is the head of the government! He has written it so this is telling me that the rest of us that got elected means nothing. People, stay awoke.”
What does the Constitution say?
According to Section 60 of the Virgin Islands Constitution, “the Governor shall be responsible for the conduct (subject to this Constitution and any other law) of any business of the Government of the Virgin Islands, including the administration of any department of government, with respect to external affairs, defence, internal security, the terms and conditions of service for persons holding public office, and the administration of local courts.”
The constitution further said: “The Governor shall keep the Premier fully informed concerning the general conduct of these matters, and the Premier may request information in respect of any particular matter”.
The Governor must also consult the Premier when dealing with matters mentioned above.
The ‘struggle’, how it escalated
This apparent struggle between the government and Governor Jaspert seems to have escalated after Kedrick Malone and Sharleen Dabreo-Lettsome were named the newest Permanent Secretaries to be appointed.
Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe, Dr Marcia Potter and Ronald Smith-Berkeley were also given new Permanent Secretary posts. But, according to Fahie, Governor Augustus Jaspert has used his constitutional powers to reject these new appointments. The governor, instead, has his own list of Permanent Secretaries which are merit-based and yet to be announced.