Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith is ready to bring the hammer down on any member of his government that is found to be corrupt. This announcement came as a response to comments that were made by Leader of the Opposition Hon. Andrew Fahie in the House of Assembly on 27 March during the debate of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency Act, 2018.
Hon. Smith defense of his government came in response to Hon. Fahie statement that the public sees politicians as corrupt: “We have to change our perception internationally. I know some people are going to get angry here but when you ask people what they think about the leadership in the BVI, they say we [are]corrupt. And that has to change, if it has to start with all of us, then start with all of us. We have to change.”
Hon. Fahie declared that this perception of corruption affected recovery donations for the Territory: “Many people wanted to donate to this country and whenever you tell them go donate, first thing they tell you is that they don’t want to put it in the hands of the government. Can’t be me alone hear it. That says a lot and it says that there is a perception out there that needs changing and it deals with restoring confidence.”
Premier Smith did not take this comment lightly and quickly rose to his feet on a point of information: “I am disturbed by this matter of corruption in government. Unless something is shown that this is the case, then I would ask that the Member refrains from indicating that he is concerned about that,” the BVI Leader said.
However the Opposition Leader did not retract his comment, but rather insisted on his allegations that there are corruption concerns. In fact Hon. Fahie responded to the Premier saying: “Don’t tell me here that you (Premier) are so squeaky clean that you could get kill Good Friday too and go Heaven one time. Who you telling that?” “If you feel that you not so, give some money up and have your government investigated like what Ralph [O’Neal] did and then clear the name of whoever since you feel so; from public servants down…We have to fix it, that is the only way the voters are going to have confidence in any other leader. Your leadership has eroded the confidence of the voters in the Territory. They don’t want to see no politician and if you have a few to deal with, deal with them. All of us cannot be destroyed for some. So, I firmly stand to what I say,” the Leader of the Opposition added.
Premier Smith however maintained that the comments about corruption are baseless and once again challenged the Leader of the Opposition to supply the evidence. “The Leader of the Opposition spoke about corruption among this government, I would like to say if he says that there is corruption he is a member of the Public Accounts Committee; if he can prove corruption show me, whoever is proven to be corrupt will be dealt with,” Hon. Smith warned.
“There is a law enforcement agency, there is a Public Accounts Committee, there is the DPP, there is the Attorney General. There are many institutions which can take care of matters like that and so as he said of a former Premier if you find something lets deal with it,” the Premier added.