While claiming that the British Virgin Islands (BVI) progresses whenever Britain gives more power to local politicians, Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton urged his colleagues to put the necessary institutions in place apparently to ensure more power is devolved.
Such institutions, he further said, would protect residents from elected representatives.
“We don’t want any more delegation of powers [from Britain]; we want them to devolve power to us. Let us build the institutions that protect the people of the Virgin Islands from us elected officials,” Skelton said this week during his contribution to the 2017 Budget Debate in the House of Assembly.
His comments came weeks after Governor John Duncan chided the government for pushing for more power to be devolved while it – among other things – is yet to pass key legislation to ensure it is held accountable and made to become transparent.
People of a ‘lighter complexion’
Skelton – during his contribution to the budget debate – also lamented the view that only people of a ‘lighter complexion’ can deliver justice to the BVI.
“We cannot believe, as a people who have gotten so far 67 years after, that only someone of a lighter complexion than we can give us justice. We have the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court who have been doing it for the last 50 years and they all – majority of them – have my complexion.”
“So I am here as a representative saying to the people of the Virgin Islands, we cannot now be scared of our shadows. I am not scared. I think we need to be a people who stand up for what is good and right; let us stand up for the protection of our people; let us help our people along the way,” the minister further said.
Taking back candies
Skelton, in the meantime, accused Britain of giving the BVI ‘candies’ and threatening to take them back.
But, according to him, the BVI progresses whenever its local representatives have more power.
“Every time the British government delegates responsibilities to the local authorities, this country made progress. The history is there; I don’t need to convince anybody of this. But we are now 67 years after, and it’s time we move away from the delegation to the devolution of powers. Delegation of powers; take it back. You always hear them say taking back this, and taking back that,” Skelton said.
He continued: “I think the time has come for us to look at our future in a different light. We cannot continue for them to give us candies and take it back when they feel like. That’s colonialism; that’s not the modern world. It needs to stop. When we talk – whether it’s this administration; whether it’s now or five/10 years from now – we need to ask that those powers that we can handle be devolved to us and stop the delegation.”
Skelton lamented that, up to recently, education minister Myron Walwyn had to unnecessarily seek permission to enter into an agreement that will improve the life of the territory’s students.
“Up to today we were talking about something the minister of education wanted to sign; some little agreement between one Caribbean island and ourselves that has nothing to do really with anything. That’s for the education of our children, and we have to seek permission to be able to sign? No, Madam Speaker… We are smarter than that,” Skelton further told members of the House of Assembly.
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