Premier Andrew Fahie is planning to move a motion to exempt Deputy Speaker Neville ‘Sheep’ Smith from having to vacate his seat since the first-term legislator’s company has been contracted by the government.
Smith was named as one of the directors of Frontline Systems, a company that provided sound and staging services for the recently-held Buju Banton show and is again providing those services for the upcoming Emancipation festivities.
The motion is listed on the order paper of the ongoing Fifth Sitting of First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly that is scheduled to resume next week.
Constitution allows exemption
According to section 67 of the Virgin Islands Constitution, an elected member of the House shall vacate his or her seat if the member becomes a party to a contract with the government of the Virgin Islands for or on account of the public service, or if any firm in which the member is or becomes a partner, or a company of which the member is or becomes a director or manager becomes a party to a contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Nonetheless, in section 67(7) of the same constitution indicates that “if, in the circumstances, it appears ‘just’ to do so, the House of Assembly may exempt an elected member from vacating his or her seat.”
The constitution further says that the exemption must be done before the member — in this case, Smith — becomes “party to a contract with the government, or before or as soon as practicable after becoming otherwise interested in a contract”.
The constitution also mandates that the House be provided with the nature of the contract as well as his interest in the contract or in any company involved in the contract.
This said the contract between the government and Smith’s company is for the period of July 25 to August 7.
In the meantime, when BVI News tried to contact Chairman of the BVI Festival and Fairs Committee Carnel Clyne, he opted to remain tight-lipped on the matter except to reveal the name of the company who owns the stage.
When BVI News questioned him further in relation to the cost of the contract, he only had one thing to say, “no comment.”
And when our news centre contacted Culture Minister Natalio Wheatley, he said that he was out of the territory and was unable to provide information in relations to cost.
Notably, he informed us that the company’s services to the government “is not free.”
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