In two statements this week Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie criticized the action that was taken by His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert in reshuffling, and appointing new permanent secretaries for Government Ministries.
The Premier said that the issue he had with the Governor’s action was that it differed to recommendations that were made by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The first statement was made on 2 September during the continuation of the House of Assembly, and then in a statement that was sent to the media on Wednesday 4 September.
In the most recent statement (Wednesday) the Premier used stronger terms to express that the Governor – in his opinion – was unfair to the members of the PSC. In fact, Hon. Fahie declared that the PSC was a reckless assault by the Governor.
Hon. Fahie announced: “By trashing the PSC’s recommendations, the Governor has signaled his lack of confidence in the members of the Commission to perform in a manner that protects Her Majesty’s service. This is a very serious aspersion that the Governor has cast on the members of the Commission who are among the brightest minds of the Virgin Islands with long, unblemished careers and who are stalwarts of our Territory…”
In further condemning the Governor’s action the Premier said: “It signals that, in the eyes of some, colonialism is alive and thriving. Thus, to them, we the people of the Virgin Islands are still subjugated, inferior and lesser persons. Chains and whips have been replaced by less obvious, invisible kinds of shackles that can be tugged on whenever we raise our heads too high, so that we will cower back in line.”
“It would be curious to see, going forward, whether having displayed this lack of confidence in the members of the PSC, what the Governor’s next move would be. How can he justify keeping a Commission in which he has demonstrated that he has absolutely no faith. But, also, how can he justify firing them when they have done no wrong, other than being born here,” Hon. Fahie added.
While speaking in the House of Assembly on 2 September the Premier pointed out that he did not have an issue with the Governor making his decision, but he noted that this was not a move of partnership, and he said that the Territory just celebrated its emancipation: “His decision is an insult to all Virgin Islanders and where we have come as a Territory… As we reflect on our 65th anniversary of our emancipation celebrations,” the Premier declared.
“While I have no problem with the Governor leaning on his own discretion, that is his prerogative; however, I see his action as an insult to self-reliance, self-determination, modern partnership, mutual respect and the democratic future of the BVI,” Hon. Fahie said.
Additionally, Hon. Fahie said that the UK Government and the BVI currently have a good working relationship and he expressed concern that certain actions may put a strain on such a relationship: “We have enjoyed an admirable relationship with the United Kingdom over the years without persons in the middle trying to deteriorate our relationship with an agenda not in the best interest of the BVI,” Hon. Fahie pointed out.
Hon. Fahie said that Ministers will work with the Permanent Secretaries and are looking forward to seeing them carry out the Government’s agenda, which Mr. Fahie said is the people of the BVI’ agenda and not the Governor’s agenda.
“We’ll continue to be respectful of the United Kingdom and their representative but it is imperative that the respect be reciprocated…I want to caution the Permanent Secretaries because there is more to the mortar than the pestle,” the Premier said.