The man largely in charge of managing the territory’s purse, Glenroy Forbes, has said the time is ripe for the British Virgin Islands to explore the idea of having greater self-determination.
The Financial Secretary said the territory needs to have a ‘collective discussion’ on what should be the extent of the United Kingdom’s power over the BVI in the coming years.
He said the questions the territory should begin to ask itself are: “What kind of future do we want to decree to BVIslanders yet unborn? What kind of social fabric do we wish to weave? What kind of political future do we want for ourselves … in terms of our rights and aspirations of self-determination.”
“My fellow BVIslanders, Belongers, residents I say to you: the time is now. Even in the midst of all the challenges that Hurricane Irma has thrown out, I repeat: Let us begin the dialogue,” Forbes said.
He was speaking at a ceremony to mark 40 years since the end of the BVI’s dependence on the UK to fund its annual budget deficit. The financing of the BVI’s annual budget was known as grant-in-aid.
In 1978, about a year after the UK handed over control of the territory’s finance portfolio to a Willard Wheatly-led government, the BVI ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus. This caused the UK to put an end to offering grant-in-aid.
The end to grant-in-aid has been described as a strong move towards self-determination. Forty years later, Financial Secretary Forbes said it is time to truly deliberate whether to move even closer to that goal.
Several months before the September 2017 hurricanes, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith had declared his government’s intention to formally ask the United Kingdom to give local politicians more power, thereby reducing the power now enjoyed by the governor.
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