“The NDP is not dead,” Chairman of the National Democratic Party Hon. Myron Walwyn declared at the NDP Pep rally that was held on 12 January in the vicinity of the Road Town Market. During the event that began with a large motorcade Hon. Walwyn addressed various rumors and allegations that have been laid against the political organization. He especially addressed his opponents in the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) and the Progressives Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM).
The NDP Chairman began his speech by declaring that his party is alive and well. In what was a quick addressing of the exodus of some of the Party members, Hon. Walwyn told Party supporters: “There are some people who are sitting down and writing the eulogy of the National Democratic Party, but I have news for them tonight…the NDP is not dead, it is very much alive and well. What we did is we pruned the political tree and we now look better with the pruned political tree and we are stronger.”
As he urged listeners to reelect the NDP, Hon. Walwyn told the audience that they should be fair in judging the National Democratic Party: “Nobody is perfect, no organization is perfect. When you are judging someone, when you are judging an organization you look to see if there are more good than the bad they did and the NDP did far more good than what mistakes we made.”
Hon. Walwyn reminded that between 2007 to 2011 there were concerns in the Territory about the spending habit of the Virgin Islands Party, and he noted that many seems to have forgotten: “Now they want to rewrite history and make themselves act like they are all fiscally prudent. The evidence is not so.”
In noting that the NDP has been financially prudent Hon. Walwyn pointed out that when the NDP took office the Reserve Fund had a little over seven million dollars, and now even after Irma it has $54million. “Up came two category five hurricanes and a flood and if we did not have those reserves we would have been in problems. And through all the problems we have had the NDP kept every single civil servant working on the payroll, everyone,” he said.
Nonetheless, the Party Chairman acknowledged publicly aired financial concerns such as the delay of audit financial statements. In tackling the concerns Hon. Walwyn announced: “Yes, there are some problems, there are, we have some financial reporting issues and the Audit reports came out late and it’s not supposed to happen, you will never hear me making excuse for it, but I will say this to you – it also happened under the VIP and I am not saying that because I am playing tit for tat, that’s not what I am doing. I am saying that if those same problems happened under two finance ministers it means we have systemic problems within the service and we got to get to the heart of it and fix the problems that we have with the service.”
At that juncture in his speech the June appointed NDP leader who if his Party wins would be the next Premier of the BVI announced that he will always be straightforward and honest with the people of the Territory: “One thing that I will promise you…is that I will always be truthful to you. You can decide if you want to vote for me or not but if you want the truth I will give it to you.”
In stressing that the delayed audit and other issues are not directly government problems but rather a systems issue Hon. Walwyn said: “What we need to do is to put more resources into training and development in the service. That is what we are supposed to do.”
He also mentioned that Government had to pass SAPs in the House from 2007 to 2016 and noted that those SAPs spanned two Finance Ministers and in his opinion the delay indicates that there are issues in the service that need to be addressed. As a solution he said that an NDP government would allocate more money for training.
While mentioning public service improvements, Hon. Walwyn quickly touched on the matter of civil servant increments and assured that his government is going to make sure that whatever outstanding increments there are will be paid to the civil servants.
Over the last years, various issues such as the cost overruns of the Tortola Pier Park project, and the BVI Airways saga have resulted in members of the Opposition accusing the NDP of being a corrupt government. However, on Saturday, Hon. Walwyn strongly lashed out against the accusation.
“There is a talk about corruption in the air. I have warned the persons speaking about corruption privately, I have warned them publicly to stop it, stop it. It hurts our country. At this time when we are negotiating loans for our country’s recovery and development you cannot be out there as a leader speaking about corruption you hamper the progress of the same country you are trying to run. Now, firstly there is no proof. You have not provided one iota of proof except flopping your lips,” Hon. Walwyn said as he refuted the corruption accusation.
The NDP Leader said that these corruption accusations are undermining the development efforts as the accusations are being heard by persons outside of the Territory. “When you go out speaking about corruption you create over regulation. You do that because you have so many eyes on top of you in the international community, they come with all kinds of rules and when they come with all them fancy rules the money has gone overseas and our people here can’t get a cent. That is what happens. There are a lot of smaller people, small contractors at the bottom who need a little help to feed their families and if we continue to speak that foolishness you are going to regulate them out of business, they can’t get anything to take care of themselves. So, if you have nothing better to say about corruption I beg you don’t do that.”
Hon. Walwyn seemed to have left no stone unturned as he even addressed the matter of the Elmore Stoutt High School wall controversy. However, he did not reference the project by name by rather alluded to the situation. Hon. Walwyn who is also the Minister for Education and Culture, in zooming on the matter said: “Now they gone further to tie up poor Myron. Anybody who knows me knows I don’t take up a thing that don’t belong to me, it’s not in my nature. I am the person that would give and give; and give some more…”
Hon. Walwyn suggested that the debacle is yet another ploy to diminish his eligibility in the eyes of the voting public: “I know what they’re up to because every election they come with something. The first time I run they say my father and mother aint from here. The second time I run they come say conflict of interest, them say they going to court house because I’m not indigenous I can’t run and all kinds of things.”
However, Hon. Walwyn suggested that the corruption claims being made against him are stemming from his opponents who were unable to sell the indigenous accusation. “They come back again with it with the indigenous part, but they realize the people got vex so they turn their tune now; and now they coming with corruption, but the devil is a liar. No weapon formed against us shall prosper and every tongue that rises up against me in judgment will be condemned, because God would say would say who the next leader of this country is not man…. God is the judge, he put down one and set up another. You know something, it is the people with the most indiscretions, the ones with the most sins who are always the ones trying to talk about other people,” Hon. Walwyn said.
While he did not directly mention the Progressives Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) which is deemed an offshoot organization considering that it was founded by former members of the NDP, Hon. Walwyn indirectly referenced speeches and statements that were made by PVIM Chairman and Leader of the Opposition Hon. Ronnie Skelton.
Hon. Skelton previously served as Minister of Health under the NDP and in addressing points that were made in the PVIM member’s speech Hon. Walwyn said: “I heard a radio message the other day. Somebody who was with us before taking credit for some things.”
The NDP Chairman said that the person claimed that they increased salaries for civil servants, gave $10,000 tax free on salaries, gave free tuition at HLSCC; started NHI; completed Peebles Hospital; they start the hospital on Virgin Gorda; and they did constitutional reform.”
In addressing the claims Hon. Walwyn declared: “When you work with a government what you do under that government the credit belongs to that government. That credit belongs to the leader of the government the Hon. Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith. If you fly out of our nest you can’t walk with our straws, look for your own straws.”
“Now I’ll have my views – I believe that anything that starts bad…persons lost an election if their intention was to work for you you could work from the front, you could work from the back, you could work from the middle; once you are working for the people you are working for the people. There is a word we call for that when you lose something and you turn off. We call that badmindedness,” he stated.
Hon. Walwyn also quickly mentioned the Party that was formed by former Virgin Islands Party Chairman Hon. Julian Fraser. He said: “Progressives United we gon call then VIP 2…they formed because they launched what do we call that – badmindedness.”
“There can be no transparency, no accountability and no integrity if you don’t have respect for democracy. When you look at the record of the Virgin Islands Party and you look at the record of the NDP each of those governments from 1995 has 12 years. I think if you sit down and think about it you will recognize that the NDP did far more good things for the country than what was done by the other governments.”
Mr. Walwyn further called upon the voters to diligently compare the legislators seeking office. “You have another important comparison to make. You have the leader for the two political parties both of them carried out the same job for the same amount of time. He was Education Minister for eight years, I was Education Minister for eight years…If you managed little well, you will manage much well and you will be the judge of that because I could tell you…the education system grew seven folds under NDP leadership.”
He also told the audience not be too worried that the Party does not have a full slate of candidates for the upcoming election. “Don’t mind the talk that we don’t have a full slate. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality and we have quality candidates for you here in the NDP, also we have experience because we have five incumbents on our team. The quantity team only has one person who ever served in government and where we are in this country to address some of the serious issues with economic substance and these kind of things you need a government that can hit the ground running and the NDP government can hit the ground running.”