BVI News

Premier complains to UK after governor withholds BVI Airways report for over 10 weeks

Premier Andrew Fahie said he has written to the United Kingdom about Governor Augustus Jaspert, who he accused of withholding the Auditor General’s report on the controversial BVI Airways deal for more than 10 weeks.

Fahie said he wrote to the UK minister responsible for Overseas Territories, Baroness Elizabeth Sugg, last Thursday, April 23.

While making it clear that he does not intend to ‘engage in an unnecessary public argument with the Governor or any other United Kingdom official’, Premier said he wanted to address the issue that resurfaced in the public domain in the last few days.

He said in a statement on Thursday, April 30, that there were ‘legitimate concerns’ regarding the timeline to table the critical report in the House of Assembly. Fahie argued that the timeline ‘was not being kept’.

He said that the Auditor General, under Section 20 of the Audit Act No 13 of 2003, conducted the audit inquiry into the government’s financing of BVI Airway’s direct flights to Miami, and produced a special report dated January 27, 2020.

Insufficient time

He said that the Auditor General, produced the special report dated January 27, 2020. The Governor’s Office, according to the Premier’s statements, received the report on February 7.

“Even at this stage, the difference between January 27 and February 7, is immaterial to the issue because, either way, the time left for properly dealing with the report was insufficient,” the Premier reasoned.

He said members of Cabinet would have been required to read and digest the 47-page report, hold deliberations on the report, and approve it before it reaches the House of Assembly.

The Premier argued that Cabinet members “would have been required to do this in less than three days while managing the reopening and rebooting of the economy. And this is while the report had been sitting at the Governor’s Office for more than two and a half months”.

Great public interest 

Premier Fahie pointed out that the matter is of great interest to the public because of the costs associated with the botched airline deal.

“There have been numerous allegations made that diverse sections of the population want to have resolved. The Governor himself noted the heightened public interest in the matter when he addressed the media on November 1, 2019,” Fahie said.

The leader of government business then questioned the reason Cabinet would be effectively ‘forced to do a rush-job’ to meet the statutory deadline, while the Governor had the document in his possession for that length of time.

“That is not fair to Cabinet and to the people of the Virgin Islands, and it is not consistent with good governance. The spirit of the law is such that the framers of the Act, and the previous legislators who drafted the Standing Orders, intended that serious matters such as these would have adequate time for deliberation and ventilation at the various stations the report would pass on its way through the system,” he reasoned.

Importantly, the Premier said if the report had been brought to Cabinet earlier, then Cabinet would have had a reasonable opportunity to perform its duties and to work with parliament’s planned schedule based on the Standing Orders. 

“As it stands, there is no guarantee that based on when the Governor brought the report to Cabinet, that the deadline under the Audit Act can be kept, and in order to do that the work of Cabinet will have to be compromised,” he noted.

He said the Governor has since claimed said he intended to introduce the report to the Cabinet on the same day he wrote to Baroness Sugg.

The BVI Airways deal 

The previous National Democratic Party (NDP) government gave the controversial airline $7.2 million to commence non-stop flights from the British Virgin Islands and Miami in the United States.

Since receiving the funds, BVI Airways has missed all its promised dates to commence the flights. It then laid off its staff claiming it needed more money to fly.

Since taking office last year, Premier Andrew Fahie announced that the territory is seeking to sue it’s former attorney Lester Hyman, who is or was a director of the defunct airline, BVI Airways.

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  1. oh boy says:

    not the time to fuss and fight

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  2. Want2Kno says:

    There are regulations to be followed regardless of the situation. The Governor need to meet the timeline just as we have to meet the timelines with our respective commitments…there’s no exception.

    The Governor who seems to favor NDP since he could control things, need to look @ the $40 Million Pier Park overrun a well….

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    • @Want2Kno says:

      What do you suppose would come out of this? The UK would by no means undermine the Governor’s authority. The Premier would have been better off trying to work along with the Governor.

      Now, in your statement you noted that the governor seems to favor NDP, I have no evidence to prove the he does or doesn’t. But if he does indeed favours the NDP I can see why. Dr. Smith is way more humble and accommodating than our current leader. His approach was never one that insinuated that the UK is “coming to take over the BVI”….he tried to work peacefully with all stakeholders.

      His approach commanded respect…when you have people like the “Est**m One” undermining the Governor’s decision and wasting tax payers limited resources….. Now you tell me who would you favour?

      In Summary Obama V Trump.

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      • Comparison says:

        Ha. Ha. Ha.

        Comparing Dr. ZZZ to Obama is a huge insult to Obama.

        Comparing Fahie to Trump is a huge insult to….. Probably both of them. lmao.

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        • @Comparison says:

          If that is all you got out of the analysis above then you are in pure trouble. I could now see why our country is struggling to innovate and develop as many of us fail to see beyond what is infront of us.

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      • idk says:

        Trump fixed Obama’s corrupt failed administration.
        BVI could use a non politician like Trump to restart the economy.

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    • @Want says:

      Before commenting you need to understand what an overrun is. The Park including landside and dock was always estimated to cost around 75-80 million. The Government spent $84 million so what 40 mil overrun are you speaking of? The only person that felt the entire project could have been done for $40 mil less is the developer darley who got kicked to the curb. The park, outside of looters, withstood the wrath of Irma which shows it was properly built. There are other islands that have either just completed or in the process of developing or extending their pier (dock) only, check the prices and come back. Regarding the Premier vs Governor, sometimes it pays to pick battles carefully.

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      • Quiet Rebel says:

        How much was the contract for the Tortola Pier Project (TPP) awarded for? How much of the $84M complete and usable cist was change orders? Typically change orders are reasonably allowed up to 25% in construction contracts. Change orders are normally owner changes, unforeseen, different site conditions …… etc. Significant change orders is unfair to other bidders who may not have had the lowest, responsive and responsible but whose bid was well within the successful contractor base bid + change order. What if another bidder had bidded $70M?

  3. Quiet Rebel says:

    I’m going to do something stupid, ie, assume that the Premier had written to Gov Jasper before writing to Baroness Elizabeth Suggs, minister of OTs. Was Novel Coronavirus (Cobid-19) the cause for the delay in releasing the Auditor General report on BVI Airway, a bruk a..s airline that had problems in the past staying air borne and left owing BVIAA over a $100K yet was able to rangle $7.2M of taxpayers money that is solely needed now from the inept NDP government. It seems the NDP like too many other governments was more interesting in building a legacy than properly dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.

    Should not the crown’s rep be impartial towards the government in power? Is being assigned as Guv of VI a ticket punching exercise? Is it a mere coincidence that VI has not yet have had either an administrator or governor of African descent ?

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  4. STX says:

    Man plan and simple!!! Yo dum a** got taken for an expensive ride!!!

  5. Unnecessary says:

    You were all preoccupied with Covid for the past month and a half. I think this is a little unnecessary to write to the UK at this stage. Was a request made of the Governor before making the request of the UK?

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  6. Thinking aloud says:

    That governor been here for a long time. Isn’t his time up?

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    • Maybe tired says:

      A governor serves for 2 years. He’s been around for more. I think he may just be tired now and is ready to rest from his duties.

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  7. Wow says:

    Do you think this is a deliberate diversion from stimulus package ?

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  8. Bye bye says:

    The governor cares not about the people of the bvi he needs to go point blank

  9. Think says:

    It’s amazing how much we hate to think.
    The Governor is the Chairman of Cabinet. So if the NDP approve this airline deal, was it not in Cabinet? The same Cabinet chaired by Jaspert?
    So, is it in Jaspert’s interest for the truth to come out? The whole truth? The whole truth which includes that he presided over all the Cabinet meetings where this mess went down? Does it not beg the question, where was the good governance and hawk eye supervision when this deal went down?
    Jaspert never agreed to a commission of inquiry? Why? Why when so many questions to answer?
    The Solicitor General acted in her own initiative to investigate, and Jaspert sits on the report for 10 weeks, gives Cabinet no time to review it, and jeopardizes the report reaching the House of Assembly as stipulated under the law. It seems like this Governor does not want this matter ventilated.
    Should we accept that because he is Almighty British?! Are we still so much in mental slavery? That we need to fear to stand up for what is right and therefore we must allow the British to do wrong to us and we take it with a smile?
    Come on man. Enough is enough.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I dont think the governor intentionally held up the report but he should have at least acknowledged that he was the reason for the delay instead of making it sound like the Premier got the report so he is the hold up.

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    • @Think says:

      We might hate to think but you need to get your fact correct. It was the previous Governor that chaired Cabinet when this all went down.

  10. Somebody had to say it says:

    What I find amazing is in the BVI we have a lot of persons who are very fooled, there is more to this story I want remind the honorable premier, that somewhere in the holy bible , it says that whenever you are digging a ditch for some dig two…….

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