His Excellency Governor John Duncan informed the media at a press conference on 24 March that he is moving forward with his request for additional funds, and in the process he allayed many of the rumours that began circulating after his announcement that he was invoking section 103 of the Constitution.
Governor Duncan indicated that he issued the warrant to the Ministry of Finance which seeks $1.8Million. These funds he said will go towards the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Attorney General Chambers, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Courts (Magistrate’s and Supreme Court.)
In specifying what the funds to be allocated to the legal bodies will be used for the Governor said: “There are two major cases going on. One is currently in the press – the extradition case, and there is another case coming up which is as a result of accusations made against three RVIPF officers. I can’t go into the details as they are all currently sub judice,” he noted.
Decision Not Influenced
Following the earlier announcement that the Governor had decided to invoke section 103, there has been whispers that the decision was influenced by the United Kingdom. This suggestion was refuted by Mr. Duncan who told reporters: “It’s a Governor’s decision, not one that comes from London, but of course I have informed London of my decision and my intentions to take that decision.”
In relations to mention that the said decision is viewed as heavy handed in consideration that there was no emergency to prompt the move, Mr Duncan pointed out: “There is no reference to emergency in section 103…It is very clear as to what section 103 is for. It was clearly intended that if the Governor was not satisfied that internal security was not properly funded, then the Governor had the obligation to take appropriate action.”
No Fear or Favour
His Excellency explained that from early in his tenure he announced that he will not be afraid to act or make certain decisions, and this invocation of power, he said is one such move: “I will point you to my inauguration statement three years ago, where I said I will make decisions based on properly evaluated evidence, and that I would not hesitate, even if those decisions are unpopular…And that is exactly what I am doing,”
The Governor declared: “I am here to make judgments and decisions, which in my view are on the basis from a wide variety of people. They are not intended to be popular. They may be popular, but that’s not what I am here for. I am not here to make popular decisions; I am here to make the right decision as far as I can judge it to be.”
In the meantime Mr. Duncan repeated that he does not take pleasure in invoking his power: “As I said in my last press conference, I regret having to take this decision; it is not the way I wanted matters to go. I wish the government would take more responsibility. We are a modern society and elected representatives need to take their responsibilities seriously, even if sometimes these are hard decisions.”
Further the Governor slapped comments that his decision takes the Territory back democratically: “I don’t think it has put the Territory back. Section 103 is in there for a particular reason. If the situation arises, and the situation has arisen, the Governor has to take the decision. That is what the constitution is there for, checks and balances, and the Governor is part of those checks and balances.”
“It is implicitly part of the checks and balances. If the government does not do what the Governor feels is required in financing internal security, the Governor has to act; it’s inevitable,” he added.