His Excellency Governor John Duncan, in what can be best described as an unexpected move, boldly criticized areas of governance and tongue lashed the Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith during an event that was held by the Ministry of Education and the Her Majesty’s Prison on 13 February.
During the event that was organized to launch an educational programme for prisoners the Queen’s Representative aired his disappointment about a number of governmental matters such as his dissatisfaction with certain areas of accountability.
In his public complaint Governor Duncan zoomed on the Government’s mention about independence interest and noted that such discussions should come after certain mechanisms have been implemented by the elected representatives.
“If the government wishes to move towards independence and I have heard some people say in the political circle, or just to the Bermuda model, there are several issues to be resolved. I am sure that the United Kingdom would be very willing to consider independence and certainly willing to consider constitutional review, but they, like I, will be asking for certain things to be done,” His Excellency declared.
At that juncture the Governor also repeated his early calls for the government to implement key legislations such as a Freedom Information Act, Data Protection Act, and Whistle Blower Act. Mr. Duncan also bemoaned the snail pace move to push the necessary Human Rights Commission.
As it relates to security, the His Excellency the Governor disclosed that he has observed that from 2012, in spite of the issue of internal security, the budget for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force has been reduced by 46 percent.
“It could be said that we spend more money on expatriate legal services than we do for our own legal people. I know that the Premier and Cabinet are keen to address that,” the Queen’s Representative said, while also noting that the Magistrate’s Court and prison are in need of repairs.
Following the Governor’s rebuke, Premier Smith stated that Government has been making strides in some areas and asked for public understanding and patience.
However, a more direct response was given by Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn who announced in his remarks: “You can look at a glass half empty or half full. I choose to look at it half full. We are a new democracy…I think we have made a number of significant strides as a people and successive governments of this Territory. There are things, yes, we have to get done. In time they will get done.”