Legislators wholeheartedly endorsed Mr. Michael Thomas as Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, and Mr. Ian Smith as Deputy Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) during the House of Assembly sitting on 12 February.
In the House of Assembly, Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool moved two motions to have the two men confirmed to their positions.
Fifth District Representative, Hon. Delores Christopher said: “It is really a great feeling to see young Virgin Islands men playing their part in the leadership of the country…from both of them others will be inspired to give the service that is required.”
In her endorsement, Hon. Christopher stated: “A lot of people sometimes say that they want to see the best for their country, and they know what should be done. They have a lot to say, but the sacrifice that has to be made, not so many people are prepared to make it; and so we have to commend them for accepting.” “Especially for business people it is a matter of time — you are losing time, you are losing money. They are putting in their energy for the good of the country and it shows that sometimes money is not everything but the service that you are giving is counted for much,” she added.
At Large Representative, Hon. Archibald Christian said that he thinks that with the combination of Michael Thomas and Ian Smith the TRC is in very good hands: “Two young capable, brilliant, ambitious, young men who understand the challenges that this Territory faces today, and the tough decisions that will have to be made going forward. I believe working closely together…the issues and the challenges confronting telecommunications in the Territory will no doubt be improved or resolved,” Hon. Christian pointed out.
Eighth District Representative, Hon. Marlon Penn told the House: “I look forward to great things from Mr. Smith and Mr. Thomas as they work together to move the TRC in the direction that we all know that it should be, and to a place where we see economic growth for various industries in the Territory.”
Third District Representative, and Virgin Islands Party Chairman, Hon. Julian Fraser also endorsed the new TRC Board leaders. He told the House: “They both came from prominent families and businesses, and they were trained in some way to be a successor. I think that their families made sure that there is a succession plan…I must commend the government for being able to attract people of that stature to a position such as this.”
The Opposition Member questioned if there was going to be a continuation of the existing TRC plans, or whether there would be new plans created: “I don’t know if this new Board is going to take up where the last Board left off or they are going to start their own program. It is a matter for the Minister (Hon. Vanterpool) to decide on; if he has time himself to look at the whole plan and see if the new Board should continue from there on or should start their own program. It happens too often where new administrations take office and start new programs and plans and before they look around time has run out.”
He added: “Telecoms is the perfect bridge – that is not going to work unless those same people that we are appointing understand that they are a bridge to a huge divide…I think they understand….the selection was an excellent one.”
Minister Vanterpool stressed that the Board is not new: “I want to clarify that the Board of the Commission is not new. It is only one member who has been added recently, and that is Mr. Ian Smith, now being appointed Deputy Chairman. The rest of the Board continues to work. Mr. Guy Malone is on the Board as the CEO…the new chairman Mr. Michael Thomas has been on the Board for two years. Continuity has been pretty much in existence for the last two or three years. The only new member is Mr. Ian Smith so hopefully they can continue the work that they have started.”
Mr. Smith was appointed to the Board for a period of three years, effective 13 February. Hon. Vanterpool thanked Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ralph O’Neal, who gave his support to the appointment of the two men both verbally and in writing. “The good thing today is both the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman are very well known, very astute, and upstanding persons in the community,” Hon. Vanterpool added.
The motion was seconded by First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie.