Residents, friends, public officers, I am Rosalie Adams, Acting Governor of the Virgin Islands and I am pleased to deliver this week’s update on the recovery efforts in the Territory following the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
As you are aware, both the Governor and the Premier and Minister of Finance attended high level meetings in London this week, to make representation on behalf of the Territory.
Providing an update on the outcome of these meetings, the Honourable Premier announced that the United Kingdom’s Overseas Territories including the BVI are now eligible for UK Foreign Aid. Upon their return, a complete update on these matters will be given to you. This is a major win for the Territory and a step in the right direction that will help to propel our recovery efforts. This significant achievement allows the Virgin Islands along with the UK Overseas Territories of Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands to access much needed funds to rebuild and restore our Territories.
Recovery is important and restoration will continue throughout all sectors in the Territory. This rings true for the public service as well. The restoration of the Public Service remains a high priority and Government is making advances to ensure its continuity. Following the displacement of public offices and in light of the impact and damages sustained, Cabinet approved the strategic direction for an improved public service. This will be achieved under the theme, “A stronger, more resilient, more effective, public service.”
I am most grateful to Mr Chris Cooper, formerly of the United Kingdom School of Governance, who is currently in the Territory and meeting with senior leaders to chart the course forward to redesign the public service. With their guidance and support, a plan will be submitted for Cabinet’s review. Once approved, that plan will be implemented in a phased approach to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service.
It is important that the emotional and mental well-being of residents is addressed. In the Public Service we have created and implemented a platform, where officers may access additional help with an interactive support movement called Project Uplift. This programme is executed by the Employee Relations Unit of the Department of Human Resources to aid public officers’ recovery from the traumatic events. Many of us are still trying to make sense of the magnitude of Hurricane Irma’s impact, which was quickly compounded days later by another Category 5 hurricane.
Through Project Uplift, officers can learn how to manage the stress and better cope in these challenging times. I encourage each and every officer to take advantage of this free group support session, which was designed specifically with you in mind.
It is with a heavy heart that we remember Inspector Francia James-Liburd, an officer of the Royal Virgin Islands Police who died suddenly, while on active duty. My deepest condolences are expressed to her husband, Lincoln Liburd, a retired officer of the Force, as well as other immediate and extended family and the entire Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.
Maintaining law and order remains an important consideration for the Government of the Virgin Islands. Therefore, the curfew remains in effect from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. I urge you to be mindful of this and continue to be excellent law-abiding residents. Coupled with the reinstatement of the electrical supply, this would enable a better chance of having the curfew hours decreased even further.
As we approach the two-month anniversary since the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma, I implore you to champion the change you wish to see. Champion the efforts in your households, among neighbourhoods and within your respective communities to restore the Virgin Islands. We can rebuild and we will bring this Territory to its former glory but all hands are needed on deck if we are to succeed in this effort. I wish to thank those members in the community who have already rallied and joined hands to rebuild these beautiful Virgin Islands.
Residents, I encourage you to join in the National Service of Thanksgiving and Unity at the Queen Elizabeth II Park on Sunday, November 5 at 3:30 p.m. It is an opportunity for us to come together as one, seeking God’s guidance for our recovery efforts. We have lost much but we still have so much for which we should be thankful.
Let us remain calm, steadfast and committed to the rebuilding of this Territory. Together we can achieve much. Together, we are BVI Strong!
Thank you and may God continue to bless these beautiful Virgin Islands.