Former NDP legislator Dr Kedrick Pickering believes the time is ripe for discussions to be had about reducing the size of the Governor’s portfolio.
Speaking on the Honestly Speaking radio programme on Tuesday, Dr Pickering said this was one of the top issues locals wanted to be addressed during the territory’s constitutional review more than a decade ago. However, that did not happen.
“There were a couple of issues which were debated that could have gone either way that had to do with ministerial powers and how best to divulge those powers from the UK side of the administration to the local population. But maybe the timing wasn’t right,” the former Deputy Premier said.
Some of the issues had to do with the Governor still chairing Cabinet, as well as being responsible for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and civil service.
“I think we didn’t necessarily get it right, but it hasn’t harmed us in any significant way. But we could have been a little further along. During the constitutional review, it was one of the big issues we had looked at, and I believe in any constitutional talks moving forward, it will be one of the bigger issues to be discussed,” he said.
“I think we have arrived at that place in our development that has to be one of the top issues that have to be discussed,” Pickering added.
Potential for conflict
As it relates to the civil service remaining the Governor’s responsibility, the former legislator said there is room for disagreement.
“There was an issue with the public service being under a minister and not under the Governor that was debated heavily that we could have made some progress on that and that could have probably made a difference at this time. But I think the jury is still out on it as to exactly where we are going,” he stated.
He continued: “We had thought diligently to have that put under Premier if not any other minister. [This is because], in the administration of government, the minister has responsibilities for the overall running of the ministry but ultimately the civil service reports to the Governor via the Deputy Governor, so it still leaves the possibility for conflict.”
Pickering was an elected representative for some 20 years before failing to get re-elected during the February 2019 General Elections.