On the evening of the March 16, 2017 Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE made a statement to the Territory setting out, among other things, his Government’s continued commitment to supporting law enforcement in the Territory.
In that statement, Honourable Premier highlighted the level of financial support that his Government continues to give to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF). Additionally, he took the opportunity to provide details of certain payments that were in progress on behalf of the RVIPF. This was done based on information provided to him by the Ministry of Finance at that time
Financial Secretary, Mr. Neil Smith, explained that it is standard practice for the Ministry of Finance to continuously audit information that is transmitted, and it has been discovered that some of the payment information presented to the Honourable Premier from the ministry was inaccurate.
Mr. Smith said, “I am pleased that our internal processes were able to identify the discrepancies between what we communicated and what was actually obtained. We remain committed to ensure that all information and advice provided from the Ministry is accurate and factual.”
“I apologise to the Minister of Finance for this error, and on behalf of the Ministry of Finance hereby take full responsibility for providing the inaccurate information that was previously reported,” Mr. Smith said.
In this regard, and in order to clarify the facts and avoid any misrepresentation and miscommunication, it should be noted that only some of the checks that the Premier mentioned were actually available at the Treasury for collection. The checks that were readied for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force in December 2016 and were available for the pickup as of the evening of the March 16, 2017 related to:
- Purchase of six (6) interceptor vehicles and repairs
- Maintenance and purchase of equipment of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force Marine Unit
The other checks that were referenced in the statement which relate to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, but were in various stages of processing by agencies within the Governor Group or awaiting complete documentation were as follows:
- The upgrade to the CCTV camera system
- Purchase of Law Enforcement Equipment from TEC Supply
- Renovation to cells at the Road Town Police Station by J&J Construction
- Sanitary ware for cells
It should be further noted that in all of the cases referenced in the statement, permission was granted since late 2016 for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force to proceed with processing payments and the funds were made available to effect the payments. However, as explained above, some are still in various stages of processing.
Mr. Smith said that he and his team at the Ministry of Finance remain committed to working with all ministries and departments to facilitate their approved spending in accordance with the protocols and processes.
The Ministry of Finance and the Treasury have been working with the Governors group and the RVIPF to ensure that the processes are timely competed and the funds disbursed as a matter of priority.
Premier Smith said, “I sincerely regret and apologise that some of the information which I reported to the people of this Territory on March 16 was inaccurate. It is very responsible that the FS and his team take ownership for the inaccurate information which they provided. I am assured that this should never happen again.”
“Very importantly, I have candidly discussed this matter with His Excellency the Governor and have updated him.”
Dr. Smith said, “As Premier and Minister of Finance, I always endeavour to report to you honestly, truthfully and accurately.
My Government will continue ensure that the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force is provided with the necessary resources to ensure that our community remains safe.