Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has described the costs of ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) reforms as ‘evolving’, noting that he, at any time, would be unable to say what actual figures were going to be needed for the massive undertaking being made by the government.
The Premier told reporters recently that he is still awaiting full information from Acting Financial Secretary, Jeremiah Frett but said some information has already been disclosed in the House of Assembly about spending that has gone into the COI-proposed recommendations.
“I had figures from the Auditor General and the Police Commissioner but some of these figures are evolving and the information is still being gathered,” the Premier said. “So, I believe going into our revised budget, when we’re going into the House [of Assembly] to do essentially a SAP — a Supplementary Appropriation — I should have the information by then from the Ministry of Finance.”
Premier Wheatley told the House previously that the ministries and departments were still in the process of assessing their staffing needs required to complete the fulfilment of the already-agreed-upon COI recommendations.
In some instances, the Premier explained, some departments have requested funding for positions to be filled while others have assigned existing staff to fulfill some of the duties.
And while touching on the issue of funding for the Office of the Auditor General to execute its reviews, the Premier said the government has already given some $135,000.
He also related that a further $484,000 had been approved for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force [RVIPF] to fund vacant positions and recruit officers to assist the departments with fulfilling their obligation to implement the COI recommendations.
Ministries and departments are expected to complete the COI recommended reforms over the course of the next two years, with some deadlines already missed. One such missed deadline was the recommended revisions to the Register of Interests (ROI) Act.
However, Governor John Rankin, who is responsible for the oversight of the reforms on behalf of the United Kingdom, has said the issue of missed deadlines is not a major concern, particularly when considering the fact that there may be justifiable explanations for the delay in some instances.
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