Today, I am pleased to share with you my first quarterly review of the “Framework for Implementing the Recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry Report and Other Reforms” (“the Framework Document”), led by the government of national unity. The Quarterly Review is a key part of the framework document that has been agreed between the UK and the Government of National Unity to monitor the implementation of IOC recommendations.
This review has been sent to UK Ministers for review and I will hold a press conference once I have received their response.
The quarterly review includes a summary of progress against deadlines for implementing the conflict of interest recommendations. It highlights a number of key areas, including: investigations and audits; policy and governance reviews; appointments to statutory boards; reform of assistance grants; contract tenders; and law enforcement reform. As required by the framework document, it also includes an assessment of the political culture manifested in the daily management of government.
I hope you will take the time to read the review in its entirety. Significant progress has been made in some areas to date, and I am pleased with the constructive engagement and partnership I have had with the Prime Minister and Cabinet. So far, most of the framework’s deadlines have been met on time and I am confident that those that have been delayed have been for legitimate reasons. I am pleased that UNICEF has agreed to support the review of assistance grants which is currently underway, and that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary of the United Kingdom has agreed to lead the review of the law enforcement and the judiciary. These are examples of where the delay in starting reviews was justified to ensure we found the right reviewers through the right processes.
However, in the quarterly review, I noted a number of areas of concern where progress has been less than expected and where I have been disappointed with the level of commitment to reform. These include amendments to the Register of Interests Bill that would restrict access to the register and would make it available to the public only in the most limited way; the resistance encountered to some of the nominations for the Constitutional Review Commission which went against the importance for the Commission to be representative of all of the BVI; and continued bidding waivers presented to Cabinet with insufficient justification.
The overriding objective of the IOC and this reform program is to improve governance, accountability and transparency for the benefit of all people in the British Virgin Islands. It is essential that the areas of concern I have highlighted are addressed and that new governance issues do not arise.
Much work remains to be done. Over the next few months, we will begin to see the results of the various ongoing reviews, audits and investigations. The next step will include reviewing these findings and the actions required as a result. Some are likely to involve difficult discussions and other necessary changes to past practices.
I will continue to work with the Prime Minister and the BVI government to ensure that the necessary steps to improve governance are taken.
As Governor, I remain committed to ensuring that change in the territory is deeply rooted and that there is a continued and sustained effort to improve governance, transparency and accountability for the benefit of the people of the islands. Virgins.