His Excellency the Governor Mr. Augustus J.U. Jaspert delivered the Speech from the Throne on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on November 14.
The Speech outlined the Legislative Agenda of the elected Government of the Virgin Islands during the First Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly, which will focus on introducing and amending different pieces of legislation under the theme: “Going Green, Going SMART.”
Governor Jaspert said the pieces of legislation that will be brought forward during this upcoming session are designed to benefit the people of the British Virgin Islands, their wellbeing, socially and economically.
He continued by saying that the Government will deliberate each piece of legislation within the context of the SMART strategies, green development, economic stability, and empowerment of the people to ensure transformation and long-term resilience of the Virgin Islands.
The Governor expressed the Government’s desire to improve the effectiveness of the Public Service and its green agenda by bringing forward longstanding legislation to support the comprehensive digital transformation and greening of the Service.
The legislation includes: Data Protection, Electronic Filing, Electronic Funds Transfer, Electronic Transactions, Public Service Management Bill, and the Integrity in Public Life Legislation. To enhance the green agenda, he noted that the Archives and Records Management Act, 2010 will be amended to establish the Archives and Records Management Department to provide for the preservation of public archives and records from an electronic perspective.
To support a modern Public Service, the Public Service Management Bill will be introduced to replace the General Orders, 1982, to provide a legal framework for the overall management, organisational structure, administration and proper establishment of the Public Service of the Virgin Islands.
In the area of innovation and investment, the Governor disclosed that the Government will mobilise and attract foreign and domestic investment to enhance economic development, reduce unemployment, grow entrepreneurship, accelerate growth and diversify the economy through the proposed BVI Investment Bill and ensure the empowerment of local investors and local businesses in the tourism, health, entrepreneurship, agriculture and fisheries through the Incentive Legislation Bill.
Governor Jaspert said an integral part of Going Green, Going SMART will be realised through proposed amendments to the Customs Management and Duties Act to encourage investments in Green SMART products.
In an effort to increase and reposition the Territory as the sailing capital of the world, several pieces of legislation will be brought to the House of Assembly.
The Territory will be audited by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) under the global standards set by IMO Instruments Implementation Code and the Government is placing great emphasis on ensuring that the Territory maintains its Category One shipping status to continue registering large ships under the International Maritime Conventions.
A significant part of the mandatory audit is the introduction of longstanding maritime legislation which will see the amending of the Merchant Shipping Act 2001 to increase the registration of ships.
The Governor expressed the Government’s commitment to the blue and green economies and maintained the tackling of Climate Change as one of its high priority areas. He said that an amendment to the Climate Change Trust Fund Act will allow for greater access to funding that may become available to the Territory and the Beach Use Policy will be introduced and ratified in this Session to ensure environmental management and maintenance of beaches.
The AirBnB Tax legislation and Yachting Aid legislation will be introduced to enhance the tourism sector. Efforts will be buttressed with the National Tourism Strategic Plan to bring more legislative and regulatory structure to the Territory and its “One BVI” tourism mandate. This will see the regulation of the Tourism Act to include pieces of legislation including the Anti Visitor Harassment and Solicitation legislation.
In the area of infrastructure, the quality and standard of the Territory’s physical infrastructure will be enhanced through green building strategies and practices with the introduction of the Architects and Engineers, Registration Bill, Business and Constructions Regulations, Physical Planning Act, 2004 and Wickham’s Cay Development Authority Ordinance.
The Road Traffic Act (Cap.218) will see amendments to incorporate green SMART development and the territory’s water supply will be improved and expanded to ensure tertiary treatment of sewage through the amending of the Water Supply Ordinance (Cap.153).
The health sector will see the introduction of the Medical, Dental and Allied Health Professionals Act, which will distinguish between licensing and registration, broaden the categories of registration and expand the range of practitioners registered.
Governor Jaspert said that the Government is mindful that in the technological age, the education system and the Territory’s schools must keep pace with the rest of the world. The Education Act (2004) will be amended to bring this legislation in line with the current and future education trends and the revision of the Education (Student Code of Conduct) Rules, 2006 to ensure that students receive the best possible instructions and are trained to become functional citizens within the Territory.
The Virgin Islands National Youth Policy and Strategic Plan 2014-2019 will also be updated so that it addresses the challenges and opportunities to achieve positive youth development and the 2013 Culture Policy of the Virgin Islands will be ratified by the House of Assembly.
The Speech from the Throne is delivered at the beginning of each new session of the House of Assembly by the Governor. It is prepared by the government on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen in whom the executive authority is vested and who is also part of the legislature. It is the vehicle used by the elected Government to set out its legislative programme for the ensuing year.