BVI News

Opposition tries to whip governor into action

Governor John Duncan (left) and Premier Dr D Orlando Smith

Governor John Duncan (left) and Premier Dr D Orlando Smith

Chairman of the Opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Andrew Fahie has asked Governor John Duncan to intervene into matters regarding the current and past government’s questionable accountability record as it relates to the territory’s finances.

The move comes weeks after Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando admitted that his administration has not furnished the House of Assembly with any audited financial report since 2006.

Fahie, in a statement last evening, said he also has asked the governor to request similar financial reports that were not produced when the VIP was in power.

“On the 10th January of this year, I have written to His Excellency the Governor requesting of him to use his constitutional powers granted to him under Section 56 (7) of the Virgin Islands Constitutional Order 2007, and request from the Minister of Finance the annual audited financial statement reports of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the years: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, and for them to be presented to the House of Assembly forthwith.”

Under Section Section 56(7) of the territory’s constitution: “The governor, acting in his or her discretion, may at any time request from a minister any official papers, or seek any official information or advice available to that minister with respect to a matter for which that minister is responsible under this section, and shall inform the premier of any such request.”

Fahie, in the meantime, noted that the outstanding reports for the years 2007 to 2010 relate to the previous VIP administration in which he served.

He said: “Reportedly, these reports were prepared but were not laid [before the House of Assembly] before they (VIP administrations) demitted office. The audited reports for the period 2011 to 2015 represents audited accounts for the current [National Democratic Party] administration.”

“Accountability and transparency dictates that all the reports, including those of the previous administration, are placed before the House so that an accurate picture can be gleaned,” added Fahie, who reprsents the First Electoral District in the House.

He also reminded residents that he has made several calls for accountability from Government in relation to the territory’s annual expenditures.

“I have exhausted all measures in the House of Assembly to bring clarity to each of the issues,” Fahie declared. “In this respect, I must exhaust all avenues and efforts to ensure that as leaders we act in accordance with the laws of the Virgin Islands and not above. Nor can we sit idly by and see the laws be interpreted and administered in a seemingly ad hoc manner solely based on who falls foul of the law.”

$2 billion unaccounted for

Meanwhile, in the last sitting of the House of Assembly for 2016, Fahie claimed that the current government is yet to account for more then $2 billion spent since 2011.

Premier Smith later described Fahie’s claims as ‘a deliberate and gross distortion of the truth’.

He further said: “The Government collects approximately $300 million per year, and spends it to provide services to the territory, as agreed. This means that, over the past five years, approximately $1.5 billion has been approved for spending in areas expressly approved by the House of Assembly.”

“On the matter of audited statements, as stated several times before, in fact since September 2016, while no audited statements of the government’s accounts have been submitted to the House of Assembly since 2006, these statements have been worked on, and those that are ready will be submitted at an upcoming sitting of the House of Assembly,” Premier Smith said, adding that the government is ‘doing its part’ to have the financial reports ready for public viewing.

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