Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith said that he agrees that the people of the territory should be allowed to decide on various pressing issues via a referendum. However, the BVI Leader did not commit to putting forward such a referendum.
While speaking in the House of Assembly on 10 July in response to the calls for referendum on the subject of independence that were made by members of the House of Assembly, Hon. Smith said: “Of course it is something we think about…We have to put forward as members of a government, as a country where we go from here. Certainly we have to think about the actions and we are doing that…”
In addressing the referendum mention, the Premier hinted that he does not support the notion that the BVI should become independent: “What we need right now is economic independence. What that means is that we have to do all that we can do to be able to recover the economy of this country so that we can continue to provide for the people who live in this country in a manner in which they were being provided before and even better.”
In calling for a referendum specifically on the subject of independence, Opposition Member and Third District, Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser announced that some persons are asking for independence for selfish reasons. “One of the good things that they have done (government) is that they have put in place referendum legislation and it is something that I think the time has come to be used. We are too educated a people to be surviving on gossip, when you do that you are manipulating your people and we need to stop it. We need to stop manipulating people for our own personal gains.”
The Opposition Member said that the subject of independence has also been used as political conversation: “It used to be political, now it has become economical; which we need to stop. Our people are none the wiser, we have people running around talking loose about independence and self-determination. I think we need to stop it.”
Therefore, he urged Premier Smith to put the matter to rest with a referendum that will reflect the view and wish of the majority of the population. He said, “We have legislation let us put an end to all this vain talk one way or the other. We have legislation: take a referendum to the people…as to what their preferences are. In so doing you kill two birds with one stone. The first bird you are going to kill is that you will be able to educate the people as to what the pros and cons are for self-determination or so called independence. After you have already educated them, in fact you will be getting educated too because you will hear what they have to say.”