BVI News

‘Rookie move, Mr Speaker!’ Opposition questions 10-minute rush to close budget debate during their absence

“The very Speaker who wasn’t present until three-and-a-half hours later [the day before] couldn’t wait 10 minutes for members of the Opposition?” — Opposition Leader Marlon Penn

By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff

Some members of the Opposition have said they believe the recent decision by the Speaker of the House of Assembly to close last Friday’s budget debate session without having an actual debate was ‘amateur’.

Others suggested that the Andrew Fahie-led government, of which the Speaker Julian Willock is a supporter, may have had malicious intentions against the Opposition at the time.

The five-member Opposition made their sentiments known during a media conference on Monday, December 16. The conference was reportedly aimed at ‘bringing clarity’ to what transpired in the morning session of the budget debate where four Opposition members were absent. 

Realising that the majority of the opposition was absent, the Speaker closed the debate within an approximate 15 minutes of opening it. Third District Representative Julian Fraser labelled the Speaker’s actions as “rookie”. 

“Procedurally, the Speaker did everything right. However, I consider it to be a rookie indiscretion by closing down the debate for something as important as the budget, and knowing the challenges that we went through with the budget process, it was wrong to have done what they were trying to do,” Fraser stated.

“The reason I used the term rookie is because I’ve been there, and I’ve seen similar instances. I’ve been there where I’ve seen a former speaker in a budget situation recess to the following day because the Leader of the Opposition wasn’t there … The government knew exactly what we were doing. The government could have done exactly the same thing that this [previous] government did by deciding to recess the House to the following day so that everyone can participate.”

Many other options were available

Agreeing with Fraser, Opposition Leader Marlon Penn said he believes there were many other courses of action which could have been taken by Speaker Willock.

According to Penn, the budget debate session for the 2020 fiscal year began around 10:50 am. He said by the time he arrived in the House 10 minutes later, the debate was over and had advanced to the private ‘committee stage’ of the proceedings.

“I thought the Speaker acted in bad taste in rapping up the process. Several things could have happened. He could have called a recess, especially after I personally called the Speaker in the morning telling him of my intent to be there because I had a hospital emergency, and I said I would not be there no later than 11 o’clock and I was there 11 o’clock on the dot.”

Speaker failed to inform members of late arrival

Penn further said that it was later brought to his attention that Speaker Willock did not inform the other members of the House of his intended late arrival. He said he believed the debate session may not have closed without the parliamentary Opposition’s input if Premier Andrew Fahie was made aware.

“I believe if the Premier knew that, he would have not allowed that to happen … because I don’t see him being so irrational or irresponsible in the process and the fact that the Speaker knew that and never communicated that to the Premier was very unfortunate from my point of view. So it suggests to me that something sinister was afoot in the entire process,” Penn stated.

“… Especially after we waited for three-and-a-half hours on Thursday for the members of the government to show up [and] for the very Speaker who wasn’t present until three-and-a-half hours later and he couldn’t wait 10 minutes for members of the Opposition,” Penn added.

Hidden agenda by government/no ministers spoke

Meanwhile, Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool said he believes the government had a hidden agenda in its ‘rush’ to get the debate process concluded without any government minister actually speaking on their respective ministries.

“It is not only the Opposition who should debate the budget. The ministers, especially in government, should explain what the budget is about as it relates to their ministries, and the backbenchers need to be involved also. So, to open a budget debate on Friday and close it immediately without the ministers elucidating what the budget speaks to the ministries really suggests that there was something sinister,” Vanterpool stated.

He further said that had the Opposition not taken the stance to get the debate session reinstated, the public would not have heard from the various ministers during the budget debate.

“Once the Opposition members spoke, all of a sudden, all ministers could speak. Why is it they couldn’t speak before the budget was closed down. So it tells you that they may have been something sinister, in my opinion,” Vanterpool reiterated.

Following the end of the morning session, the House reopened and Premier Fahie moved a motion to reinstate the budget debate session to allow the Opposition to make their contributions.

Penn said he later discovered that Speaker Willock had been adamant for the debate not to be reinstated to accommodate the Opposition members.

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23 Comments

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  1. hmmm says:

    VIP KEEP IT UP, AND NEXT ELECTION WE GOIN SEE HOW THOSE VOTES GO!!!!!!!!!

    Like 17
    Dislike 4
    • Nobody says:

      Penn has an excuse. Nobody is going to hold the rest of Opposition members to account for their whereabouts when they were supposed to be in the House?
      Isn’t being in the House what Mark fight for?
      Why was Fraser not there? Where was he? And Mitch?

  2. LMAO says:

    The House of Cards is one big mess and is slowly falling.

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  3. Strpzz says:

    Show up on time and stop with this hogwash nonsense. The last time I checked the opposition is not the majority of the government and you therefore need to show up on time or send apologies you are going to be late and or absent. Hoa is not a daycare centre, the opposition needs to grow up and be responsible.

    Like 13
    Dislike 20
    • Foolish says:

      You are talking foolishness. This is the budget we are talking about, not some ‘other business’ in the HOA. All courtesies should be extended to elected officials to ensure that their contribution is made with respect to such an important matter. Let them keep it up, time alone.

      Like 17
      Dislike 8
  4. Ha Ha says:

    The speaker was busy showing of his new SUV.

    Like 12
    Dislike 3
  5. hmmm says:

    I am just soo sick of the VIP Government.

    Like 16
    Dislike 3
  6. No name says:

    Strupeeees. You just looking high position.

  7. Wacher says:

    Smurf cannot match up to the esteemed must less Andrew these guys trying hard to be relevant but we can see Myron in this

    Like 4
    Dislike 18
    • Please says:

      If Myron was helping this lads out, they won’t be looking so dis-tasteful and incompetent in the house. One thing about Myron is he’s always prepared in the House. Always. They should be seeking his guidance. Especially Marlon. From thinking that he got things under control.

      Like 15
      Dislike 4
      • Please Myrun & Co. says:

        It is a Good thing Hon. Penn is not seeking your/ahyou guidance, if he did he would be out of the house just like him. Up and down Tortola on Hon. Penn’s name trying to destroy him, we the streets have smurfs back, so hold your corner and sell your sushi and steak. “When destruction is your motive, it becomes your reality”.

        It is that holier than thou, I know it all, im smarter than everyone attitude why he is where he is out of the house. This Youth need to humble himself from here blogging on Hon. Penn, we’re not joining you to destroy our own. So Go Siddung!

        Smurf you leave that brother where he is and do your thing, time longer than twine. Jah guide.

        Dislike 10
        • Lol says:

          You sound so funny. The man barely scraped through in his district. Lol. But carry on. Don’t mistake a district vote for a territorial. On a national scale Myron would run corners around Marlon. Ijs

          Like 4
          Dislike 3
          • Ohhh ok says:

            You mean scrap through by 200 votes like the at large member barely came in 5th to Hon. Malone by 600 votes after being the top vote getter. Lol. Ok carry on then.

            Like 1
            Dislike 1
        • my guess says:

          This sounds like jealousy to me. Why the anger and visceral.

  8. Comment says:

    I hear you, but if my memory serves me correctly, a former chaplain complained openly about the tardiness of the members of the HOA. Attending a meeting, or for that matter any function, late – what we once used to call Virgin Islands’ style, is no longer cute. To me it is a form of disrespect, especially when you are doing the peoples’ business.

    That said, these representatives of the people need to remember that in spiting the opposition, they are shortchanging the very people who elected them to serve (with emphasis on the word ‘serve’). We put them in there for a purpose – to lead, not rule with iron fists.

  9. Excuses says:

    The opposition is full of excuses. You know how Andrew and Julian are. You had Alvera in the House. Don’t the opposition team communicate ahead of sittings? You mean to tell me Alvera couldn’t interject or start the debate while the rest of the opposition got there? Nonsense. This opposition is a joke. A big joke.

    Like 11
    Dislike 3
  10. No says:

    This is a budget debate, we should all be concerned that even the Government side itself abstained from contributing to the debate. What the f*** are we running, a banana republic? So we will rubber stamp a $414 million dollar budget, the biggest in history and we have no issues with that?

    Like 11
    Dislike 1
  11. Voter says:

    I lost respect for the opposition months ago

    Like 4
    Dislike 7
  12. somebody missing says:

    All I will say is that I wish Myron Walwyn was still in the House. That’s it

    Like 8
    Dislike 3
  13. Doubleup says:

    So nobody read that Hon Penn comminicated with the speaker before hand about a hospital emergency. So he can’t have emergencies. Omg. Ppl are some inhumane I swear.

  14. Haha says:

    The opposition is a joke. This isn’t the first time that they showing this dont care attitude. It wasn’t just one or two members it was all except Alvera. So everybody just so happen to be late that day coincidentally? What’s the excuse for not forming the PAC for over 6 months? Whats the excuse for missing the other days because Alvera was the only one present at all the meetings. They dont care. Mark should be ashamed he beg to get sign in and wont even be on time.

    Like 3
    Dislike 3
  15. Clerk says:

    All of the members had weeks of scrutinising the Budget in private. What’s the big deal. They should have been on time if they wanted their Air time.

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