The 40th Regional meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) opened in the BVI on 27 July at the Eileen Parsons Auditorium (HLSCC).
Among the attending States were Bahamas, Barbados, Montserrat, Guyana, Jamaica, Nevis, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Other States such as Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines were not represented by a delegation.
In her welcome remarks Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Ingrid Moses announced that it was an honor for the British Virgin Islands to host the distinguished conference. “I believe you are here because you care to be taught about new enlightenments on the topic of democracy and good governance which no doubt can assist you as you lead your respective countries as parliamentarians with vision and integrity and a hope for betterment for your country and its future generations.”
She also said that the CPA has always provided a forum where parliamentarians can learn how to function in their new role more effectively.
Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Julian Fraser described the 40th CPA conference, which was being held under the theme ‘Promoting Democracy and Good Governance, A Unified Approach’ as timely.
He explained that the conference was relevant in consideration of the recent scrutiny governments within the region including the BVI have been subjected to for their stewardship. “The hallmark of the CPA in my view must be without question the protection and promotion of democracy regionally and internationally within the Commonwealth…The CPA is not just about politics, as a matter of fact, if you ask me you would have no doubt discerned earlier in my speech they almost try to avoid politics. They are about justice, they are about equality; and one of the areas they have been focusing on is getting parliament in the Commonwealth to strive for gender equality,” Hon. Fraser stated.
Premier Dr. The Hon. D. Orlando Smith explained that as an organization the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association affords member States an opportunity to discuss issues and share solutions: “As a collective body the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association affords us the opportunity to come together and engage in different discussions, because it is important that we grapple with, and brainstorm on unified approaches to bring resilience to democratic economies whether politically socially or economically.”
“This regional conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association highlights the unity among us. Indeed that unity is built on people with a common culture, shared values and history,” the BVI Leader added.
Joe Omorodion, Acting Secretary-General and Director Of Finance And Administration of the CPA informed that this year’s Conference theme is indeed relevant and timely for the Caribbean Island States.
He said: “I believe promoting democracy is essential to each of the States here today and the wider Commonwealth, as it is pivotal to the advancement of sustainable social and economic development. Good democracies have the ability to empower citizens to contribute to the formulation of effective policies, express grievances, seek justice and hold leaders to account. Similarly, strong, democratic institutions empower people to influence their governments to prioritize national development matters that are equitable and sustainable.”