Citizens will now have the opportunity to have their say on the government’s regularization initiative in the coming weeks, Premier Andrew Fahie has promised.
The Premier’s remarks were made in the House of Assembly (HoA) on Friday when the Immigration law amendment to facilitate the regularisation was introduced to the House.
He said his administration decided to suspend the second and third readings for the amended bill which is titled: Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act 2019.
Notably, any legislation brought before the House requires three readings before it can pass.
The second and third readings for the aforesaid amendment will return to the House on June 3, BVI News understands.
“I do not intend to run the country in a dictatorial manner. But I do not intend to run this country with people pulling me together in their storm. I am going to pull them in my calm, and we are going to sit down and have intelligent discussions,” Fahie said following an anti-regularisation protest outside the House on Friday.
He continued: “More views of the people need to be heard on all sides, and we are going to go out there and get it. I am not going to do anything as your leader to do anything that would seem insensitive.”
Moving forward, the Premier said he cannot always guarantee that all government’s decisions will favour all.
He, however, said: “I will try my best with my government to ensure that we have the dialogue with the people. But in order to solve some of these issues, not Immigration alone, there has to be tough, well-discussed and well-calculated as possible to get some of these things done.”
Meanwhile, Claudia Hodge, who was among the locals who spearheaded an online petition said she and the other anti-regularisation campaigners are “pleased”.
“This is truly democracy at its best. We view this as a great start, and we are committed to working with the government to find a balance that is in the best interest of the territory with Virgin Islanders at the heart of the discussion and decision,” she told BVI News via WhatsApp on Saturday.
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Gov’t suspends amendment to Immigration Act on regularisation initiative
Government has opted to suspend the amendment they are making to the Immigration and Passport Act that aimed to regularise select expatriate residents.
He made the announcement in the House of Assembly on Friday after locals staged a protest against the amendment outside the Assembly building in Road Town.
Before any legislation is passed, it must have three readings in the House. But government opted not to go beyond the first reading. The Premier explained that he acknowledges ‘the people’s voices’.
“I promised them that amendments would be made and one of the amendments that I am asking to be made right now is that there isn’t a second and third reading,” Premier Fahie said.
“I have heard their voices in terms of us having some more discussions in the coming week so that we can move forward as together as can be, given the nature of the issue,” he added.
The Premier continued: “I’ll never disenfranchise my people or do anything to destroy the BVI. I would not do anything outside the law. I realized that we want more public dialogue on this matter and we are willing based on the voice of the people, and sitting with the people for and against, to make sure that we hear the people a little more; especially this week with more public meetings, more collaborations on the issue on the way forward that can be agreeable by all.”
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