Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has dismissed what he dubbed as an opposition narrative created about his government’s need to travel frequently to attend overseas functions.
The government has come under heavy criticism from the political opposition and some sections of the community for constantly being away from the territory, with some suggesting that parliamentary proceedings are neglected as a result of this.
But Dr Wheatley said it was politically convenient for the opposition to spout such criticisms and argued that the need for governments to travel is a global phenomenon.
“It may be politically convenient to have a narrative that there’s something wrong with officials representing the interests of the Virgin Islands internationally. But if we ever take that posture, it will hurt every single citizen and resident in the BVI,” Premier Wheatley said at a press conference recently.
Dr Wheatley commented that some Overseas Territories’ governments are even forced to travel for days before arriving at their destination in the United Kingdom (UK) where the Premier and a delegation are currently engaging with UK officials and others on behalf of the territory.
According to the Premier, the BVI is part of a global village which requires its leaders to represent its interests on the world stage.
“You go to international meetings where you’re fighting for your interest and your place in the world and inevitably, you have to pay for aeroplanes and you have to pay for hotels,” the Premier argued.
He added: “The further you travel, the more expensive it gets. So, sometimes I don’t think it serves our interests well to create a narrative, you know, that there are other better things to do than travel.”
Meanwhile, the Premier noted that, even as his government continues to be transparent on the issue of the spending done on behalf of the people of the territory, he was unable at the time to provide an estimate for the cost of the government’s current trip to the UK.
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