BVI News

Should top gov’t positions be localised through legislation?

The central administration complex that houses several government offices. (GIS photo)

Former legislator Dr Kedrick Pickering said he believes that localizing top posts through legislation should be a matter for debate.

Dr Pickering was responding to questions posed by the radio talk show host Claude Skelton Cline this week.

“It merits some serious debate and discussions. But, the problem that you run yourself in is … ‘what happens if there are no qualified locals?'” Dr Pickering said.

He was referring to specific posts such as Attorney General.

“Do you really want to box yourself into these highly professional positions if there are no local persons, just to say you must have a local person? It is different for the Deputy Governor because it is an administrative post. You do not have to have a specific qualification to be the Deputy Governor,” he further argued.

Dr Pickering said the post of Deputy Governor was localized more than 10 years ago in a constitutional review.

Groom locals

Meanwhile, Skelton Cline, who gave his opinion on the matter, said locals should be groomed for these top jobs.

“I strongly believe that any jurisdiction, any territory, any nation should first see about the empowerment of their own people in key critical positions,” the radio personality said.

“There can be no equivocation; no matter how sophisticated these positions are. Train your people. Put them on a path to ensure that they become the occupiers of those posts.”

In the meantime, Skelton Cline called on the Premier to “formalize this commission as soon as possible”.

He said: “The decisions we make today determine our children and grandchildren’s tomorrows. We must be sure that in the land of their birth, they are on a path that they are the owners, operators and determiners of that destiny.”

In response, Dr Pickering said while he agrees with Skelton Cline’s point, “one has to balance realism with idealism. And while the idealistic situation is what you aspire to, aspiring to it also means that there are some reality checks along the way.”

Dr Pickering said: “I think in the context of which you speak, in principle I have no problem with that. So what is important is the debate has to continue for us to look at all sides and see where the balance is.”


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  1. Virgin Islander says:

    I have always said to people that say what you want about Skelton Cline but he is the smartest of them all. Maybe witty but smart. He is on to something. There are a lot of young, brilliant, qualified Virgin Islanders living in the Virgin Islands presently but unless you carry a certain surname or if your surname is sounds strange to the Virgin Islands they are not recognized. Its not who you know its who know you. When you apply for a Government position, their first question is who your parents are or who are you related to.
    The Virgin islands will continue to be in a mess if some people don’t change their mentality and prospective on certain things.

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  2. hmmmm says:


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  3. @Virgin Islander says:

    Absolutely. That has been and still is our generational curse.

    It must be broken by hook or crook dem say, but its a tough and devastating one. Seen it in action since a boy. Was personally affected by it also. Then few wasn’t really.

    When will it be broken? No one will know, but it has rendered many a brilliant minds useless.

    On matter at hand, i lean towards Mr. Cline’s view. The right mind(s) can be trained [and in repeated succession] to achieve that which is needed to be achieved.

  4. E. Leonard says:

    Every locale consider their qualified citizens first for employment opportunities. Qualified locals/belongers should compete for and have preference for jobs. If there are no qualified locals/belongers, then the best qualified/suited among external applicants should be considered. Further, if no qualified local/belonger wants the job, then the most highly qualified and best suited among external applicants should be considered. However, no poison pill should be inserted in the process that will cause locals/belongers to decline the job, ie, low balling compensation…….etc.

    Moreover, government must effectively invest in local human capital to prepare them to take advantage of opportunities for positions of increasing responsibility. Government should fund training that meets the territory’s needs. Additionally, locals/belongers must prepare themselves for assuming positions of increasing responsibility, ie, training, education, experience……..etc. Putting legislation in place can be murky, problematic…….etc. For example, what happens if there are no qualified locals/belongers interested in the job? Government must be vigilant to ensure that locals/belongers get a fair shake.

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  5. Albion says:

    I question how effective legislation mandating locals for key positions is likely to be in practice.

    We already have a law (in our constitution, no less) which states that the Attorney General must be a BVIslander unless no other qualified candidate can be found.

    And yet since that measure came into force (in 2007) we have had a total of ZERO persons appointed as Attorney General who were BVIslanders.

    I see no reason to believe that imposing similar rules in relation to other positions would have any different outcome.

  6. Not2Sure says:

    Not too sure about this. If you look at the US Cabinet, a number of them are non-US citizens. In the UK the Governor of the Bank of England (the second most powerful position in the UK economy) has been held by a Canadian for the past 8 years.

    The key is finding the right person who can do the best job – not giving a job to a person with a sense of entitlement because of where they were born.

    Suggesting that by law some posts must be mandatorily filled by a local suggests to me we would inevitably find ourselves forced to put underqualified people in positions from time tom time. So they get rich (and can’t be fired), and everyone else gets poorer because the job isn’t getting done right.

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    • @Not too sure says:

      @ Not too sure, which US Cabinet Sec is not a US citizen. Don’t confused where they were born with US citizenship.

  7. Lilly Fisher says:

    In every country, except BVI, jobs in government are reserved for citizens and this is no secret in the other Caribbean countries. I believe there is always someone in the BVI to fill a position, but succession planning is not done here, and I cannot understand what we are afraid of. We cannot allow people to dictate for us and dominate our market to their advantage. If a BVI belonger comes second or third in an interview to a non-belonger, the mere fact that he/she is in the running he/she should be given the opportunity, because there must be potential, but that does not happen in the BVI. There is someone from the BVI now working with the financial services commission in Anguilla and I could bet you there is some succession planning taking place. BVI have very capable people but only our own cannot see our worth.

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    • Shorty says:

      BVI famous line you lack experience. Even if you have been on the job say 10 years and now applying for top mamagemt post ypi still lack experience. I will like one day to see our brillant young people take up leadership posts before 30 or 40 years old. For that to be done its time for mandatory retirement at 25 years. Too many government heads in their position 25, 30, almost 40 years not willing to let go for someone else to take up the mantle. This is the primary reason some shun working for government there is no upward mobility you’re just stuck in the position when hired.

    • Rubber Duck says:

      Utter rubbish. There are many countries where the top jobs are held by non nationals.
      Look at Monaco , similar to BVI, same population, same percentage of non belongers.

      But they have the best people in key positions regardless of nationality

      Monaco is the richest country per capita on earth, the safest with virtually zero crime ( most of the police are foreigners), it has the longest living people on the planet, zero unemployment, no direct tax, the best health care etc etc etc.

      It should be a model for BVI.

  8. Jos says:

    Many OECS countries have people in very high positions who are not from the respective countries

    Just look at St. Lucia and Antigua where top positions are held by persons not from those countries


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