Despite the economic impact of COVID-19, the upcoming Commission of Inquiry (COI) is another expense the BVI public may have to cover this year.
Following this week’s announcement that Governor Augustus Jaspert has ordered a COI into alleged political corruption in the BVI, the public has been asking about the source of funds to cover the upcoming process.
According to the BVI’s Commission of Inquiry Act (1880), the Commissioner and his secretary may be paid with funds from the BVI treasury.
“The Governor may direct what remuneration, if any, shall be paid to any commissioners acting under this Act, and to their secretary, and to any other person employed in or about any such commission and may direct payment of any other expenses attendant upon the carrying out of any such commission, or under any proceedings for any penalty carried out under this Act. Such sums, so directed to be paid, shall be paid by the Financial Secretary out of the ordinary cash balance in the Treasury of the territory,” the Act says.
Despite what the law says, the public is still waiting on a promised press conference Governor Jaspert will host this week, to hear whether the Commissioner will be paid by the BVI and the estimated cost for his services.
In a public statement issued January 19, Premier Andrew Fahie urged the public to get familiar with the Commission of Inquiry Act (1880) in order to understand how the process works and the actions that are lawful while the Inquiry is in progress.
“For instance, many persons may not be aware that anyone who is the subject of the inquiry or who may be in any way implicated or concerned in the matter is entitled to have a legal representative present to look after their legal rights. And, a subpoena to attend or to give evidence before the Commission must be treated in the same way as a summons form the High Court,” Premier Fahie explained.
He added: “Being informed will help you to properly participate in the Inquiry.”
The upcoming COI into alleged political corruption is the first of its kind to be ordered in the BVI.
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