A select Foreign Affairs Committee in the United Kingdom has been established to conduct an inquiry on the future relationships between the United Kingdom (UK) and the 14 Overseas Territories (OT); and Leader of the Opposition Hon. Andrew Fahie announced that he has no choice but to lead the charge in consulting the public.
The Leader of the Opposition addressed the media on 15 August in what he said was his first of a series of press conferences. During that meeting with the media, Hon. Fahie explained that he decided to take the lead and organize public consultation on the matter after learning of the invitation for views by the UK and noting no announcement from Government.
In explaining his move to act, Hon. Fahie specified that an invitation was issued by the UK committee for nationals and belongers of the British Virgin Islands to forward written submissions no later than the 3 September on the topics of: Governance of the OTs, including their adherence to human rights frameworks; the benefits of the relationship of the UK to the OT’s and; of the OT’s to the UK; The adequacy or inadequacy of financing of the OTs; Representation of the OTs in the UK; in the Commonwealth and in other international forums and the identification and assessment of assets and liabilities (including but not limited to ecological richness and the effects of extreme weather, and natural resources such as minerals and fish).
Hon. Fahie said that he wants to make the five areas palatable for public discussion and therefore will commence the consultation with the formation of five working groups. He said the groups will be tasked with assisting the public in garnering a full understanding of each topic; given the limited timeframe, the depth of the topics and the implications of the inquiry. It was noted that the five working groups are being established with representative membership to research and lead the discussions on each of the topics.
The Opposition Leader said that following the formation of the five working groups, community meetings aimed at educating the public and soliciting and cataloging the views of citizens and residents throughout the British Virgin Islands will be scheduled for Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada.
In stressing that the consultation is important Hon. Fahie said: “My people of the Virgin Islands, the future of the relationship between the UK and the BVI is in your hands! You cannot afford to miss this opportunity to participate. Your input is needed now more than ever!”