Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said there was ‘no point’ in implementing a state of emergency before Hurricane Irma smashed into the British Virgin Islands.
A state of emergency is usually implemented when a country is faced with national danger. The state of emergency effectively suspends regular constitutional procedures in any country so its government can maintain or regain control.
Premier Smith said in the House of Assembly today that calling for a state of emergency ahead of the strongest hurricane in the region would have been of no use to the now battered and looted BVI.
“There was no benefit to declaring a state of emergency before the hurricane because in and of itself, it does nothing,” the Premier reasoned.
He made the statement while answering questions from representative of the Third Electoral District, Julian Fraser, who disagreed.
Fraser used the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands (USVI), which was placed under a state of emergency prior to the said hurricane, to drive home his point.
“It served a purpose to be in place before. Looters were siting right after the hurricane ready and prepared to loot people’s property but the police could not send them home because there was no state of emergency or any curfew in place,” the Third District Representative said.
However, Dr Smith was not convinced. He argued that unlike the BVI, the USVI could afford to implement a state of emergency before the disaster because they qualified for aid from disaster response agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Premier said: “The United States is a territory [which receive] massive input of assistance in terms of aid, FEMA and all that it brings. We don’t get any such assistance when there is a state of emergency so there is no point in doing that (implement state of emergency) [for the BVI].”