Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith said that he is flabbergasted that the members of the Opposition expect the Government to provide explanatory addenda that includes relevant statistics whenever a bill is presented to the House of Assembly.
During the Cruising Permit (Amendment) Act, 2017 on 29 May there was a brief exchange of words between the members of Opposition and Premier Smith. The back and forth was as a result of Leader of the Opposition Hon. Andrew Fahie’ announcement that additional information was needed to properly debate the legislation.
However, Hon. Smith announced that the insinuation that the additional information should be sourced and provided by Government is unreasonable: “I was flabbergasted to hear the suggestion that the members do not need to do their own research when they come into this House to discuss matters that are important to this country. I assume that all members will take their time and do whatever research that is needed,” Hon. Smith noted.
The BVI Leader also said that it is well known that legislators are required to do research on Bills before the House: “Every year we get reports from various departments of government–Customs, Tourist Board; so we all know what is going on.”
Premier Smith said: “The information is there, all you need to do is do your research; the research that I used to do when I was a member of the opposition.” The Opposition Leader did not agree with Hon. Smith’ rationale and said that the response is misleading: “With due respect to the Premier, he is misleading the public. Information the government would have statistically, that you would need, the Opposition would not have it.”
In stressing that statistics are needed to assist the opposition in understanding the bill, Hon. Fahie added: “Those (statistics) are the catalyst used to make changes, we don’t have them…We can’t get answers to questions in here when we ask, much less out there.” Hon. Fahie said.