BVI News

Premier strives to ‘clear BVI’s good name’ at COI hearing

Premier Fahie

Premier Andrew Fahie has said his focus is now set squarely on clearing the BVI’s name after it was tarnished by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and United Kingdom (UK) officials with allegations of corruption and poor governance.

Appearing before the COI yesterday, October 12, Premier Fahie made it clear that he would not simply be giving evidence to the Commission, but would instead be embarking on a mission to set the record straight.

In a protracted and prepared speech before the COI, the Premier asked for parity of treatment in how the UK and BVI governments — both past and present — are judged for how they have both handled certain issues.

“Even though when you look at the track record of the UK government who called this Commission of Inquiry, in how it has handled its economic stimulus and social support programmes, how it has failed to handle transparency, accountability and value-for-money and other governance issues surrounding COVID-19, I think you will find that the BVI, with our imperfections, does not fail or fall into that same barrel as the UK,” Premier Fahie stated.

He told the COI that both his government and the UK government took similar approaches in skipping procedural and administrative steps, largely in the interest of expediency, considering the urgency of the global pandemic.

He accused the UK of blatant and rampant government corruption and said the BVI has exceeded the UK’s standard if it were to be judged against that benchmark.

Irreparable damage done

The Premier, while declining to single out anyone in particular, said irreparable damage was caused to persons’ reputation internationally in accusing them of stealing funds.

According to the territory’s leader, no local politicians got kickbacks from the government’s COVID-19 stimulus grants which were taken from the Social Security Board fund.

He noted that this was in contrast to the corruption that existed with the UK’s rollout of its social programmes aimed at combatting the pandemic.

Premier Fahie further insisted that no proof exists that shows any monies from the grants were missing and assured that all persons and entities that received grants would be held accountable for the funds they received. 

COI destabilising government

The leader of government’s business also argued that the COI was called in a way that destabilises the territory with allegations that the Premier and his government stole money.

Adding that although his appearance before the Commission may be helpful for the COI, it has been a hurtful experience for him as Premier to appear before the COI and try to recover the good name of the BVI.

“I am like a duck on the pond, Commissioner — looking good on the top but paddling hard underneath to get back our reputation,” the Premier said. 

The Premier also disagreed that even in hindsight, there should have been more transparency and good governance in deliberations on how funds were spent by his government in the distribution of COVID-19 assistance grants.

He said there should have been more professionalism exercised by all involved — particularly the Auditor General, Sonia Webster, whom he singled out by accusing her of rushing an audit report on the government’s distribution of the funds. 

“We’re [the government is] in charge of policy and you can’t audit policies like that – that’s outside of the domain of even the Auditor General,” the Premier charged.

Following the Premier’s statements that ran for nearly 20 minutes, Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom expressed disapproval for what he described as ‘misplaced and inappropriate political rhetoric’.

“I will not be deflected by political rhetoric, and I will not be deflected by inappropriate comparisons with other places. I will stick to my brief, and I will only focus on meeting my terms of reference,” Sir Gary said.

The COI was issued on January 19 to look into whether corruption, abuse of office or other serious dishonesty may have taken place amongst public, elected and statutory officials in recent years. Following hearings, it will make appropriate recommendations as to governance and the operation of the law enforcement and justice systems in the BVI.

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18 Comments

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  1. Chief says:

    You said the NDP was the most corrupt administration in history, called for a COI, and now is trying to portray your self as the savior? Man you lack any integrity. What a huge disappointment!!!

    Like 55
    Dislike 4
    • Judge Nudie says:

      He’s lying when he claims to want to clear the reputation of the BVI. Nobody has a problem with the BVi. We are decent hardworking honorable people. In our friendships and every day lives we enjoy life and respect each other, no matter what differences we have. The people who are in need of redemption are the government and their cronies, not this country.

      Like 46
      Dislike 1
    • Doh says:

      Dear Leader is in damage control mode now. The ship is sinking, the rats have abandoned him, and he’s left with nothing but a bucket. Sometimes a scared man with a bucket is your best bilge pump.

      But the ship has too many leaks and she’s going down.

      Fahie is going too, but he’ll try to blame everyone else but himself.

      The UK is now throwing us a life preserver with the COI. Grab on to it or you too will go under.

  2. Concerned says:

    Enough is enough. Time for the COI to report its findings and for the appropriate actions to be take. We, the people of the BVI need to trust our politicians and to know, without question, where our tax dollars go.

    Like 34
    Dislike 1
  3. He who cries wolf says:

    …will not be believed now, even if he starts to tell the truth. All trust is gone.

    Like 24
  4. Bumpy says:

    Mr. Fahie it will do you better if you were to own up to mistakes and missteps made by you and your government, instead of finding every body to blame including the dead. The people of these Virgin Islands are not blind or stupid, eventhough it appears that you will like to think we are. I was born in the Virgin islands, live all my life in the Virgin Islands so I have lived through most governments that have governed this territory. In my humble opinion no one governed this territory like H.l. Stout. Honorable Willard Wheatley did not get much done because he preferred to sit on the money and not take risks. NDP and VIP is very similar in the way they governed. So both are guilty of abusing,misappropriation of the people’s funds. Both are guilty of lack of transparency, and favouring their chosen cronies. However, Andrew Fahie and his VIP government have taken all these abuses and corruption to a whole new level. So Mr. Fahie stop comparing, and pointing fingures because this can’t undue the damage or repair your government’s image. Instead for the rest of your government time, clean up your act and be a more fair and inclusive government.

    Like 47
    Dislike 1
    • LOVING BVI says:

      I WONDER ABOUT OUR LITERACY LEVELS AT TIME …. You attack in a very political manner and then try to wash it by saying ..I lived through most governments ..I wonder would you voted for ….NOT VIP

  5. Sniffn says:

    You did it all by yourself, your l**s and corruption destroyed any integrity and respect the BVI had.

    Like 29
  6. heckler says:

    The VIP administration was a big big mistake so therefore we shouldn’t hesitate to remove them from office during the next election cycle

    Like 26
    Dislike 1
    • @Heckler says:

      I agree with you and I go you one better. Let’s not wait until next election for by then we will be dead broke. Why? He who does not own up to his mistakes when caught red handed will only continue his bad behaviour. This is our country. It does not belong to any one person or Government, no matter who they are. We have to stop accepting this kind of behaviour from our politicians whether we voted for them or not. We too have failed to own up to our mistakes, the majority of this country. Time to fix this mess. Every day you listen to the COI or read the news it is blatant for all to see that wrong and strong is the name of the game. If you are doing these things and can only try and justify your behaviour by blaming someone else, how can we save you? Only God can save us all. Here on earth, we need true God fearing men and women who care about country and not themselves and whose focus are not on next election and showing favour, through the public’s purse no less, for their friends and supporters. People, we deserve better than this. When we don’t have a country, that little cash that you are being passed under the table will be long gone.

      Like 13
  7. Anonymous says:

    Andrew Fahie, Don’t you understand that the UK doesn’t have to answer too us, but we have to Answer to them.
    The UK is independent, We are an OT of the UK. Stop complaining about the UK and get ready for their next move.

    Like 18
    • LOVING BVI says:

      i like this …just remember the next move is all about what happens now ..the political hit men of UK are doing the job …the Hon Fahie is gettin the BVI back on track….. We need to ask the Brit to leave ..it time for BVI Independence. ..St Kitts and Nevis did it

      Dislike 17
  8. Wow says:

    Let’s go, let’s go
    How many work permit on standby? It’s like no body know what to do. Should have been ready months ago

    Like 3
    Dislike 3
  9. lol says:

    stop waiving the tender process! stop the cronyism! stop the corruption deman! enough already!

    Like 12
  10. LOVING BVI says:

    ‘I will not be deflected by political rhetoric, and I will not be deflected by inappropriate comparisons with other places. I will stick to my brief, and I will only focus on meeting my terms of reference,” Sir Gary said.”

    A POLITICAL APPIONTEE is telling us about deflection … oh ny god stop the hprocrisy Brit … you are a political figure doing a political job for a political reason with determined politial outcomes ..just like the persons appointed by Uk. the Governor is a political appointee , the lawyers were hand picked , the last terms of the NDP were handpicked … STOP THE ROT SIR GARY YOU NEED TO LEAVE NOW

    Dislike 20

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