The Territory’s Constitutional review, which was due in 2017, but became off railed by hurricane Irma is expected to commence next year. This announcement was made by Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie both in a statement he delivered on the Anniversary of the 1949 March on Government House and in the budget address that was delivered on 19 November.
The matter of Constitutional reform became a trending topic in the Territory in May 2018 when thousands of Virgin Islanders and residents took to the streets in a sign of opposition to UK’s decision to impose public registers of company beneficial ownership. The residents marched to the Governor’s residence with placards stating “end colonial rule,” and “I want to rule my destiny.” At that time the Constitutional review was already due and the UK’s decision seemed to galvanize the Territory to consider what changes are to be made. The then government announced that efforts would be made to move forward with the process; and the now Premier is announcing that the process will soon commence.
In his address on Sunday 24 November in observance of the Anniversary of the 1949 historic demonstration the Premier used the opportunity to provide an update on the pending constitutional matter: “People of the BVI, I acknowledge the desire of our forefathers that we would be able, today to govern our internal affairs. Hence provisions are made in this 2020 Budget to request the commissioning of a Constitutional Review.”
This is not the first time since he has taken office that the Premier has mentioned that government will be pushing forward with the constitutional review. The most recent of the previous mentions was on 3 September while the Premier was a guest on the Honestly Speaking With Claude Skelton-Cline radio talk show.
In mentioning plans for the informal meeting and Constitutional review Hon. Fahie said, “We are going to be having an informal meeting very soon of the members of the House; and that is going to be one of the things on the agenda — in terms of the Constitutional Review because the time is now to push for that.”
Meanwhile, Hon. Fahie pointed out that the review of the Constitution is not expected to be done overnight. Oversight and transparency seem to be areas that will be looked at during the Constitutional review process.