Premier and Minister of Finance
Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley
11 May, 2022
Update on Government of National Unity and COI Recommendations
Fellow Virgin Islanders, a pleasant good day to each and every one of you.
As you would recall, last Thursday, 5 May, 2022, your National Unity Government took office with a pledge to work together to urgently deal with a number of critical matters and to build a better Virgin Islands.
These are times when we must all put party affiliations and personal ambitions and agendas aside, and work together for the greater, long-term good of our beloved islands and all our people.
As we work together, cutting across party lines, we will be holding each other accountable based on the commitments we made in order to forge the Government of National Unity.
By working together we can usher in a NEW era of prosperity, opportunity and Good Governance for our beloved Virgin Islands and all our people.
The Government of National Unity has been engaged in a series of meetings to map the way forward for the Virgin Islands. On Monday, 9 May, 2022, we held our first Caucus which was very productive. Today, 11 May, 2022, we had our first Cabinet meeting.
In terms of the Commission of Inquiry report recommendations, I am pleased to report on behalf of the Government of National Unity that I have submitted a proposal to UK Minister for the Overseas Territories the Rt. Hon. Amanda Milling that sets out our approach to reform and presents a framework for implementation under continued democratic governance. It represents our commitment to good governance and strengthening our institutions and systems of Government. We want to engender a new culture in the handling of the people's business.
I hope Minister Milling and the UK Government will give due consideration to the proposal and not go down the path of direct rule. We stand ready to work as partners with the UK and in close cooperation with Governor Rankin.
We will soon be coming to the public to explain our firm plans to improve governance in the Virgin Islands along with our plans to ensure the proper management of our society. An announcement on dates will be made shortly.
In the meantime, we are proceeding with some immediate reforms that we believe are in the public interest. In regard to the Ports Authority, I have been in communication with the Chairman of the Board, and he has indicated that he will tender his resignation. The term of the remaining members will expire within days, and a new board of suitably qualified persons will be appointed.
This decision was not taken lightly. However, given the remaining concerns about security at the ports after the arrest of Managing Director Ms. Oleanvine Maynard and the details of her activities described in the affidavit filed in the US courts, we must refresh the Board so its integrity is beyond reproach.
The legal and practical issues involved in terminating the appointment of the current Managing Director are being examined, and updates in this regard will be forthcoming.
I want to reassure you that the ports will continue to operate. The soon to be appointed board will be tasked with the appointment of an Interim Managing Director while the recruitment of a substantive Managing Director is underway.
In terms of the security of the ports, I have scheduled an urgent meeting with the Governor and Commissioner of Police to discuss some of the security concerns and what measures can be taken to address them.
I want to remind everyone what I said before. Change will be hard. It will be painful. People we know and care about will be affected. However, in the end, it will be for the better.
I will be coming back to you soon to share the Government of National Unity's approach to Statutory Boards, because in several cases, change is urgently needed in terms of their current composition and how we deal with appointments more generally. It is not good practice to have the same persons sitting on multiple Statutory Boards, and we will make the necessary changes in accordance with best practice.
I will make an announcement shortly on a date and time when we present our comprehensive approach and invite your views.
As I mentioned, the National Unity Government is fully committed to good governance and will be making reforms accordingly.
Finally, let us stay hopeful. We are at the beginning of our march to renew our democracy and build the Virgin Islands into the society that we all want.
Together we can achieve whatever we put our minds to.
I thank you and may God bless these beautiful Virgin Islands.