Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said he feels no penitence as he concludes his nearly two decades of service in representational politics.
Dr Smith expressed those sentiments as he gave his final address to the territory Monday evening.
Premier Smith said, as he demits office, he takes satisfaction in how much he has helped the local financial services and tourism industries to grow. He said he is particularly pleased that ‘after many years of little or no new developments’, the BVI is witnessing what he described as “a wave of investment from Oil Nut Bay, to Scrub Island, to the recently signed deals to develop Norman Island and Prospect Reef”.
“Above all, I take satisfaction in the services that are being provided to our people … Even as I wish we could have accomplished even more, I have no regrets – for I know in my heart that I gave all that I had to offer to this territory I love. And for that opportunity, I am eternally grateful,” said Dr Smith, whose greatest perceived blunder as government leader might be said to be the still unresolved BVI Airways saga.
I wish we had greater air access, further along with recovery
Dr Smith said things he would have wanted to accomplish include having the territory’s main airport ‘service more flights’ and having the BVI’s main hospital provide ‘an even broader array of advanced services’.
He said he also wished the BVI’s recovery from the 2017 hurricanes were further along and that “no business or family in the territory was still struggling to get back to where they were before the storms arrived”.
While further stating that he wished for a “more unified” community, the premier implored the soon-to-be members of the next government to make their party secondary to the needs of the territory.
Dr Smith also encouraged cooperation among the territory’s leaders and residents, regardless of political affiliation or beliefs.
“We will have to learn to sacrifice for the greater good and to cooperate in ways we have only imagined in the past,” the premier said. “That does not mean that we will always agree. There will be spirited debates in any healthy democracy. The election campaign that is ongoing is part of that process. But … All of us must rally together if we are to achieve what is needed to secure our future. We must be prepared to make the necessary strategic investments today to build a better tomorrow,” he said.
BVI must deepen our connection to the world
And in outlining things he believes must be done to ensure national development, Dr Smith said: “We must deepen our connection to the world through improved technology and communication services. We must diversify our economy so that we don’t stand and fall on the twin pillars of tourism and financial services alone.”
“We must constantly improve our schools so that our children continue to march ahead. We must support our police on the streets, as well as our teachers in the schools, our ministers in the churches and parents in their homes as they all work to keep our young people on the straight path. We must provide care for every one of our citizens so that health is understood as an essential right and not a privilege,” the retiring politician added.
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