The Inter Virgin Islands Council meetings might become more frequent if Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie has his way. The Premier during the opening for the eighth Council meeting on Tuesday 4 February said that he would like the gathering to be held annually.
Both Virgin Islands leaders exchanged gifts as they noted how the destructions of the hurricanes of 2017 caused the suspension of the gathering. In his opening remarks Hon. Fahie pointed out that three years have passed since both Territories were in a position to hold talks and come together in this way, due to the unprecedented level of disruptions wrought by killer hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“Today’s meeting is the first meeting of the Inter-Virgin Islands Council under our respective administrations, and we are indeed grateful for this opportunity…The Virgin Islands (BVI and USVI) are not just a group of islands, we are a blessing from God. We are already Great. We just have to work on bringing out the greatness,” Hon. Fahie said.
In noting that the Council is a powerful tool Hon. Fahie told the gathering: “Together we can set policies to help the people of the British and United States Virgin Islands to be able to contribute and benefit from our respective destinations and jurisdictions with a shared purpose, where possible or necessary. I believe that once our people after becoming fully involved in the economic success of the Virgin Islands then and only then is when the VI will realise its greatness through the people.”
Meanwhile Governor of the US Virgin Islands Albert Bryan Jr. agreed with the comment by Premier Fahie that the Virgin Islands’ strength is its people and that the partnership of the two Territories have always been people focused.
“We have always been one people, but the Crowns that have reigned on our lands for so many years have separated us in many different ways. It is important that we always recognise that we are one people and move forward as such. Even though we don’t speak on a regular basis. So when I hear him speak about the Virgin Islands and as we move forward it is the same message that we as a people must be strengthened by individuals,” Governor Bryant stated.
The USVI leader also lauded the strides that the BVI has made in its hurricane recovery.”We see that every single day in the BVI,” Governor Bryant Jr said, adding that the previous night he went to dine at Quito’s in Cane Garden Bay and “I was just amazed at the can-do spirit of the BVI. I had the opportunity to tour the small hotel there and eat in the restaurant and see the rooms, it blew my mind away how being independent and being able to lock out certain change doesn’t mean that you don’t survive. It just means that you keep going and going and going to find ways to charge through all those difficult parts,” he said.
Bryant also called for stronger collaboration between the two territories, “We must seek to see what are the dependent businesses and industries that we can work collaboratively to make this place better…When I hear him (Premier Fahie) speak about the Virgin Islands and as we move forward, it’s the same message, that we as a people must be strengthened by individuals, because strong resilient people make strong resilient families, which makes strong resilient communities, makes a strong resilient territory and a strong and resilient Virgin Islands,” he said.