Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Third District Representative and Opposition Member, Hon. Julian Fraser, has warned new Premier, Hon. Andrew Fahie of the mammoth challenges that is now before him, especially as it relates to the BVI’s Finances and relations with the United Kingdom (UK), telling him, “We got problems.”
Hon. Fraser, in his address to the House of Assembly (HoA) yesterday, March 12, while directing remarks to Premier, Hon. Fahie, said, “We got problems. When you were campaigning, you may have thought it was a walk in the park but we got problems.”
“Premier, you asked a million questions when you were Leader of the Opposition. I hope that you present those answers to us when we ask them to you because as far as I’m concerned, you’re the Premier and whatever the last premier did, you’re responsible for. Oh, yeah,” he quipped, telling him that he is now responsible for helping to account for the millions of dollars spent on BVI Airways.
Turning to the BVI’ international relations, he spoke of the $300 million loan guarantee that the UK has offered to the territory, saying like most favours extended by the UK, “The British Government is going to call that in,” later adding, “They’re going to hold it over our heads.”
He then ventured onto the report recently published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), saying, “The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee came up with this report that listed these many things that they want in the BVI.”
Highlighting his areas of concerns, he said, “They have classified belongership and its equivalent to be wrong…They’re saying to you that all overseas citizens and UK citizens living in this territory should be given the right to vote and hold office. You go figure, those are big, big issues that you have to face and there’s no running away from them.”
He urged that Premier Fahie take these matters seriously, suggesting that he should travel to the UK to have them addressed.
“They’re also talking about same-sex marriages. In the past, our government has avoided that like a plague. Our country has avoided that like a plague and wished for the British Government to impose imperial legislation upon us...it’s an issue that you have to face…it’s not an issue that you can avoid and walk away from,” he warned the new Premier.
Continuing, he said, “You have to show that you have leadership skills, show the tenacity that I always know you to have and deal with these issues.”
“The British Government is aware that we have squandered every opportunity that was given to us to build our institutions and we haven’t. People talk about independence and self-determination, the question they must ask themselves is are we prepared?”
He pointed to the lack of institutional development in the territory, rhetorically questioning, “Have we built our institutions to the stage where we can stand on our own? We don’t have a currency, we still rely on the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.”
The HoA is among those institutions, he added, saying, “This is the institution that we must start building first. I don’t know where it was within the last 15 years but it has been allowed to slide. It needs to be picked up. This institution called the House of Assembly needs to have a foundation that is unshakable and it needs to start now.”