Hon. Andrew Fahie, Chairman of the opposition Virgin Islands Party (VIP
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Opposition Leader, Hon. Andrew Fahie said that the move by Governor John Duncan to exercise his constitutional powers for the police force to receive additional monies is a great start, but there are other things that he also needs to address before his tenure is up in August.
Hon. Fahie in a statement today, Friday, March 17, said that the press conference held by the Governor and subsequent live broadcast by Premier Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith, are war of words which he will not get distracted by at a time when persons are mourning the loss of their loved ones by violent crime.
The Opposition Leader said that the Governor has a lot of work to do under the Constitution, including addressing the issue of financial audits, which have been outstanding for several years by the government.
Governor John Duncan, at an impromptu Press Conference held on the steps of the Government Administration Building on Thursday 16th March 2017, announced that within 24 hours he would be invoking Section 103 of the Constitution. This section allows the Governor to authorize an additional $800,000 expenditure to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF).
The Governor assured that he shall also be monitoring the expenditure closely. The Governor in his press conference cited that, "One of the big problems we have had is the failure to disburse funds. The Premier has been repeatedly given instructions to disburse and they have not been disbursed."Within four hours of the pronouncement, the Premier of the Virgin Islands Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith issued a midnight broadcast and practically refuted the primary reasons cited by His Excellency for his actions.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this war of words between the Governor and the Premier comes at a time when families are mourning the loss of their love ones to senseless murders.
These words come at a time when gun crimes have escalated to untenable heights. They come at a time when my colleague from District two, our citizens and the wider population are demanding increased monitoring, together with swift and decisive actions by the RVIPF.
You will excuse me if I am not distracted by these war of words. I have stood on the floor of the House of Assembly on numerous occasions and have advocated for increased funding for the defense of our people.
It has been publicly stated that the failure to prioritize our National expenditure is alarming and unsustainable. The economy is NOT robust. There is NO transparency. Accountability does NOT exist. Conflict of Interest is at an all-time high.
The Governor has announced that it is not proper to vacate his office in August of 2017 without resolving some of the ills developed during his tenancy. Funding of the RVIPF is a GREAT start. Here are a few others:
1) The House of Assembly has not received audited financial statements in ten years. This is a Constitutional issue that must be corrected before August 2017 and must not be left to succeeding Governors.
2) The Attorney General and the House of Assembly have refused to seek a proper interpretation of what constitutes Conflict of Interest and what contracts would require the permission of the HOA prior to being entered into by members of the HOA. This is a Constitutional issue that must be corrected before August 2017 and must not be left to succeeding Governors.
3) At the Cruise Port Development Project, over thirty million dollars have been expended in excess of the amounts approved in the House of Assembly. This is a Constitutional issue that must be investigated before August 2017 and must not
be left to succeeding Governors. No more parsing of words.
4) Eight million dollars was diverted from loan proceeds approved by the House of Assembly for the East End/Long Look Sewerage project to the BVI Ports Authority without being deposited to the BVI Treasury or without proper approval. This is a Constitutional issue that must be corrected before August 2017 and must not be left to succeeding Governors.
The people of the Virgin Islands will address the other political reckless decisions made by this Government at an appropriate time: The seven million dollars disbursed to the airline; the one million dollars spent on a three hundred thousand dollars wall around the high school; the implementation of a sixth form when absolutely nothing was in place for it to function; the sixteen million dollars from Social Security for road works that is still not properly accounted for; schools without sanitary supplies; the public library has now been closed for one year and to date the House of Assembly has not been given the budget for its relocation or the operational expenses required for its operations. There exist some unwritten words at the windows of the treasury of the Virgin Islands – NOTHING THERE!
It is interesting but consistent to observe, without exception, not even to the Governor, that everyone that seek to highlight any of the ill-fated decisions of this Government falls under their unrelenting and bullying wrath even at the midnight hour.
I shall not be deterred nor bullied because my interest is of that of the safety and security of the people and visitors of the Virgin Islands.