Minister for Education and Culture and Chairman of the National Democratic Party, Hon. Myron V. Walwyn noted that Government found out about the United Kingdom’s Inquiry into its relationship with the Overseas Territories in the same manner the public did – via the UK Parliament’s website.
Over the last two weeks the government has been criticized for not alerting the public that the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee will be conducting an Inquiry into “the resilience of the Overseas Territories, the efficiency of Foreign and Commonwealth Office as it relates to its mandate to the Overseas Territories and the future of the relationship.
However, Hon. Walwyn pointed out that there was no official correspondence sent to the government regarding the Inquiry. During the 27 August NDP Drive Time program Hon. Walwyn noted that the government was not privy to a special announcement.
“I am of the view that something of this magnitude and importance should have been sent by official correspondence to the leader of our country for onward transmission to its residents. This was however not the case and I am sure that there may be a very good reason for the approach taken on informing the Overseas Territories’ residents and citizens of this Inquiry,” Hon. Walwyn stated.
Nonetheless, the NDP Chairman announced the importance of such a discussion should not be downplayed. Hon. Walwyn said that this discussion is of significance to the growth and development of the Territory and he noted that this is not the first time such an exercise is being carried out.
“I understand that the last time that such an Inquiry was done was some 11 years ago. It behooves us therefore, to ensure that our cares and concerns are forwarded on the matters outlined in the statement and indeed on other matters that are paramount to us,” the NDP Chairman said.
Hon. Walwyn noted that the relationship with the UK Government is one that the government would like to see continue as it is built on the tenants of mutual respect and trust. He said that both the BVI Government and the people of the Territory remain grateful for the technical support that the UK has expended over the years especially following Hurricane Irma last year.
However, Hon. Walwyn noted that the 2020 beneficial ownership registers imposition has created uneasiness as it relates to that relationship. “This relationship we all can agree has been severely strained by the controversial decision of the UK Parliament which now requires the Overseas Territories to establish a Public Register of Beneficial Ownership of companies registered in their offshore financial sector,” the Education Minister noted.
The NDP Chairman said that this Inquiry presents another opportunity for the BVI government and its people to further explain to the UK Parliament the adverse effects that public registers for beneficial ownership will have on the economy of the BVI and by extension affect the quality of life of residents.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Andrew Fahie has been carrying out Territory-wide consultation in order to ensure that the residents views are well noted in the submission to the United Kingdom government. In his mention of the Inquiry Hon. Walwyn applauded Hon. Fahie for his efforts to record the views of the people.
Hon. Walwyn said “I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Leader of the Opposition for his contribution in assisting to bring wider consultation on this matter to the citizens of the Territory.”
He also thanked that the Youth Movement of the National Democratic Party for hosting a two-hour discussion and consultation on 26 August on ZBVI Radio on the UK Inquiry matter. Hon. Walwyn also invited persons who would like to make independent submissions to do so through the government‘s website www.bvi.gov.vg, where a link has been created specifically to accommodate this Inquiry.