Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has sprinkled a dash of scepticism over the unflattering quarterly progress reports issued by Governor John Rankin in recent months.
The reports, which have been assessing the government’s implementation of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) recommended reforms, accuse the government of showing little signs of progress in completing some of the reforms.
But Premier Wheatley, while appearing on the Talking Points show yesterday, March 13, pushed back on that assertion, arguing that when looked at in totality, his government has achieved much progress regarding the reforms.
On the issue of missed reform deadlines, Premier Wheatley said this has been a challenge for both the Governor’s Office as well as his Unity Government, commenting that these deadlines have been missed for good reasons.
“It’s important also to note that the governor has missed deadlines under his areas of responsibility,” he said. “It’s not highlighted as much in his report as the areas where we are behind as an elected government.”
He continued: “So, we should read the reports with a grain of salt because there are areas under the governor where there have been clearly missed deadlines.”
“Of course, the governor has a responsibility to try to keep us on our toes, so he’s always gonna point out areas that he believes that we can improve,” the premier added.
Weaknesses in the law
Meanwhile, in responding to the issue of processing delays, specifically with residency and Belongership applications, Premier Wheatley said this has to do with some of the same areas mentioned in the COI report.
The Premier pointed to what he described as the COI report’s focus on ‘weaknesses in the law’, including instances which have shown a gulf between the law and the government’s policy on Belongership applications.
The territory’s leader also argued that the administrative processes are so slow that the government ends up having to do ‘fast track’ approvals. He contended that part of this challenge lay squarely at the feet of the governor, who has overall responsibility for the public service workforce.
According to the Premier, the Attorney General’s Chambers had many comments that the Immigration Department and Immigration Board had to process for the review to move forward. He suggested these included some of the same weaknesses identified in the COI.
“We have to make sure we get the process right, we have to make sure we get the process correct; make sure that we adhere to the existing law,” Premier Wheatley said. “It’s important for us to have a clear, transparent process and have a certain level of accountability in the process and that’s what we are working to do.”
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