ONE-ON-ONE PRESS STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
AUGUST 29, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
I thank you for being here this afternoon.
As you are all aware by now, we are approaching the one year mark since the passage of Hurricane Irma.
There is no denying the physical and psychological effects caused by the hurricane. There are many of us who would remove that dreadful day from our memories if we could. However, it is imperative that we shift our focus and offer thanksgiving and praise God for his mercies and concentrate on how far we have come, one year later.
As such, the Territory will observe the first anniversary of the passage of Hurricane Irma with a Service of Thanksgiving, Reflection and Restoration on Thursday, September 6 at the Central Administration Complex at 4:00 p.m. I am encouraging Territory-wide participation in the observation as well as encouraging members of our community to commemorate the day through community outreach programmes, social events or conducting activities at church, home, schools or place of business.
This is important as our efforts as a Territory continues to be centred on the vision that we are collectively building the BVI STRONGER, SMARTER, GREENER, and BETTER.
The rebuilding efforts have without a doubt been difficult, but I am pleased that definite progress has been made. For example, utilities have been re-connected throughout the islands; homes are being repaired; businesses are operating, Government operations are functioning, and new developments are happening in the tourism space. It is safe to say that life is improving steadily.
Just yesterday, August 28, the Territory marked a new beginning in our recovery journey as we welcomed back Disney Fantasy to the port of Road Town. The ship’s return has been anticipated since their last call to the Territory on August 29, 2017, shortly before the devastation caused by the weather events of last year.
Through the combined and dedicated efforts of the Tourist Board, the Ministry of Communications and Works, the BVI Ports Authority, Tortola Pier Park, our private sector and other local, regional and international agencies and individuals, we have made significant strides in restoring the islands to be able to receive the influx of visitors who came via the major cruise line yesterday heralding a much-needed boost to the all-important tourism sector.
My Government recognises the importance of the cruise tourism industry to the people of the Virgin Islands - our taxi and tour operators, restauranteurs and vendors depend heavily on this industry for their livelihood.
Furthermore, as we discuss the future of the Territory, it would be remiss of me not to mention the recent announcement that my Government is preparing its submission to the UK Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee Inquiry on the future of the UK’s Overseas Territories (OTs).
Announced on July 20, the Inquiry will consider the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future. It has also highlighted specific areas it will address.
- The governance of the OTs;
- The benefits to the UK and the OTs of the relationship between them;
- The financing of the OTs;
- Representation of the OTs in the UK and in the Commonwealth and other international fora;
- Assets and liabilities (including but not limited to ecological richness and the effects of extreme weather, and natural resources such as minerals and fish).
The overarching principle behind that UK’s attitude towards the Overseas Territories is stated in the 2012 White Paper. This makes clear that the UK Government’s fundamental responsibility and objective is to ensure the security and good governance of the Territories and their peoples.
This responsibility flows from international law including the Charter of the United Nations. It requires the UK among other things, to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the people of the Territories, to ensure just treatment and their protection against abuses, and to develop self-government and free political institutions in the Territories.