Opposition Leader Marlon Penn has said he believes the government’s recent decision to resume the publication of Cabinet’s post-meeting statements but excluding those made in the last 10 months of 2020, raises many major concerns.
Just weeks after the publication of a BVI News article about the absence of decisions made by Cabinet, the government announced the resumption of post-meeting publications from February 11, 2021; only backdating to January 7, 2021.
Speaking to our news centre following Cabinet’s first publication in roughly a year, Penn urged the government to put measures in place to ensure the missing 10 months of Cabinet decisions from February 2020 are also made available to the public for full transparency.
“This decision concerns me because we will have almost 10 months of decisions made by Cabinet not known to the media and the general public. At a time when the Cabinet met more frequently,” Penn stated.
“This is a slap in the face of transparency and good governance, which this process — a process started under the last administration — provides for; and considering this administration campaigned so heavily about the issue of transparency and accountability,” he added.
Executive information to important to be omitted
While stating he believes the BVI News article caused the government to address the issue, Penn said the excuse given by the Fahie administration was not enough.
According to government, twice as many Cabinet meetings were held in 2020 when compared to 42 in 2019. However, the Fahie administration claims the COVID-19 crisis was the reason the publishing of the statements were halted.
“I agree it might have been a reason but the work of the executive is too important to the territory for the Premier not to provide the necessary resources to the Cabinet’s Office to execute this very important exercise of being transparent and accountable,” Penn stated.
He added: “So I hold the executive totally responsible for the 10-month delay in publishing decisions and those decisions need to be published so that the public can know what was done on their behalf by the executive.”
Penn also vouched for the persons working in Cabinet, labelling them as hard-working people behind the scene.
He said he believes these persons are not to be blamed for the halt in the publications and said the government should have provided the department with additional resources to assist with managing the increased workload.
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