Press Statement on the COI Report by the Minister for Overseas Territories, the Right Honorable Amanda Milling
PRESS RELEASE ON THE COI REPORT
OF THE MINISTER OF OVERSEAS TERRITORIES
THE RT HONORABLE AMANDA MILLING
MAY 4, 2022
I understand that recent events in the British Virgin Islands with the arrest of Prime Minister Fahie have been shocking and concerning to everyone. The Commission of Inquiry report also raised very serious concerns about failing governance and the dishonesty of elected officials. These are difficult times for people in the British Virgin Islands.
I have spent the last few days listening to what you think of events. We discussed the report’s recommendations. And I’ve heard what you think is needed – which is to put the best interests of the people of BVI at the heart of all future decisions. Events are changing rapidly and I would like to provide a brief update on my trip and describe what will happen next.
Let’s be clear – the report highlighted significant concerns about corruption, transparency and accountability. There is no escaping this. As many people have told me. It’s not about whether to do something. It is a question of what is done. We must act now to: strengthen the foundations of the Territory; provide better public service; maintaining a strong and resilient economy; and creating better opportunities for the people of the BVIs. That’s what I heard during my visit.
Over the past few days, I’ve met a range of people across the BVI, including:
– Acting Prime Minister, the Honorable Natalio Wheatley;
– All party leaders and all members of the House of Assembly;
– Business and tourism leaders;
– Some of the most experienced political and civil service figures;
– Representatives of the financial sector;
– Church leaders, and;
– Representatives of community groups.
My encounters have helped me better understand and comprehend the significant challenges facing BVI. Discussions with elected officials were cordial but frank. They recognized the magnitude of the problem and that the road ahead will be difficult. But we all agreed that it’s a necessary trip.
During my discussions with community and religious leaders, I heard about the impact of corruption on the community here. I asked for their opinion on what would be best for the people of BVI. Everyone I met agreed that there needs to be significant changes in the BVI to improve governance.
There is an urgent need to fix systems, processes, laws and standards to ensure that money spent by government – your money – is better spent on roads, education, hospitals and better public services and not misused as found by the IOC.
We now have the opportunity to do so. Building a government that meets the needs of its people in a fair, transparent and accountable manner.
As I return to the UK I have a lot to consider. I will share feedback from the range of individuals and groups I have met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and we will discuss next steps.
I will also speak to Governor Rankin and Acting Prime Minister, the Honorable Natalio Wheatley, about how to address the issues that are holding back BVI development.
It must happen quickly. The people of BVI deserve no less. You deserve a government that works for the benefit of all, not just the few.
A system that promotes and protects, not divides and instills fear.
A bright future, unclouded by the darkness of crime and corruption.
I pledge to deliver this for the benefit of the people of BVI.