Consolidation and reinforcement are the terms that were used by His Excellency the Governor Mr. John S. Duncan, OBE to describe his tenure thus far as the Territory’s Governor.
Governor Duncan marked two years of his term with a press briefing today, August 19 and fielded several questions from the media.
Governor Duncan said, “My period as Governor has largely been one of consolidation, reinforcing the foundations and the lower levels of the building as we build ever higher.”
The Governor applauded the Territory on its ability to navigate enormous social, cultural, economic and political changes over the past 40 years, and described the role of Governor in a modern democratic society.
He said, “It should be clear that I do not see the role as Governor to be the “eternal policeman” ready to intervene at every turn when people are dissatisfied with the answer they have received from the Public Service, or their elected representatives.”
“I believe firmly that the institutions of the Territory and those elected to make decisions, should shoulder their responsibilities. I have to say that that commitment has often been tested over the past two years”, the Governor added.
Governor Duncan restated his commitment to serve as outlined in his inaugural speech from August 2014. He said at the time that while carrying out this responsibility, he will seek to bring even-handedness, professional integrity, a willingness to listen to the views of others, coupled with the readiness to make the right decision, even if that is not always easy, or a popular one.
The Governor further shared that instruments and structures must be in place to provide democratic accountability as the Virgin Islands is a modern democratic society.
He said that it is understandable given the huge economic and social changes and the speed of that development over the past 40 years, that this aspect has not been at the front of the political agenda, resulting in the absence of many of these key instruments and structures.
“Without them,” the Governor added, “there is a real risk that the society relies too much on the integrity, wisdom and determination of the two individuals in overall charge, namely the Premier and the Governor. Such a structure might have been suitable 40 years ago. The size of the population, the stage of economic and cultural development of the BVI today means this is no longer the case.”
His Excellency outlined major decisions made during the last two years including the decision to not hold a Commission of Inquiry into the extension of the Cruise Pier as both the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee’s reports were deficient, requiring further investigation by the Caribbean Development Bank and an independent investigation funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The role of the Governor is to strike a balance between the view of Her Majesty’s government in the United Kingdom, the elected representatives and the aspirations of the people of the Virgin Islands.