Chairman-elect of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Myron Walwyn has criticised Britain’s approach to launching an inquiry into the future of its relationship with the British Virgin Islands.
The UK announced the inquiry on its official parliamentary website on July 20 but never contacted the BVI government directly, Walwyn said.
“I am of the view that something of this magnitude and importance should have been sent by official correspondence to the leader of our country for onward transmission to its residents. This was, however, not the case and I am sure that there may be a very good reason for the approach taken on informing the Overseas Territories’ residents and citizens of this inquiry,” the government minister said in episode-two of the NDP Drive Time radio show.
The UK has given the BVI and other Overseas Territories six weeks – which ends on September 3 – to give their input into the inquiry.
More time required
But Walwyn said the issues being assessed as part of the inquiry “would require much longer discussions and understanding among our people before our views on them are advanced to the United Kingdom.”
“It is for this reason that I believe the timeframe given for us to submit our views on the areas named above requires considerably more time,” the minister reasoned.
He said the inquiry raises questions on whether the UK will want to increase their control in BVI affairs, whether BVI’s natural resources might become the property of the UK as part of their assessment, and whether the BVI will be forced to accept certain UK beliefs regardless of the territory’s own cultural, religious, and other views.
Walwyn commends Fahie
Walwyn, in the meantime, has recognised Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie’s initiative to host a series of public consultations to document comments from residents in relation to the inquiry.
“I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Leader of the Opposition for his contribution in assisting to bring wider consultation on this matter to the citizens of the territory. I must also thank the Youth Movement of the NDP for hosting such a lively two-hour public discussion and consultation with the public on Sunday, August 26 on ZBVI Radio on this topic.”
The minister then suggested that the ‘feedback received through all public consultations’ be sent to the UK through the Premier’s Office.
This, he said, “will be a show of unity among the people of the Virgin Islands and will further demonstrate [the BVI’s] belief in our ‘One BVI’ mantra”.
The minister said the NDP government is continues to seek ‘constitutional advancement’ for the BVI.