Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE is in Bermuda for a preparatory meeting ahead of the 2015 Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) being held later this year in the United Kingdom (UK).
The July 22-26 preparatory meeting which is being attended by Heads of Government from the UK Overseas Territories (OTs), serves as an opportunity for the leaders to focus on the objectives they wish to achieve within the annual Joint Ministerial Council process, as well as assessing its viability. It is anticipated that the meeting will present an opportunity to set the long-term strategy for the OTs engagement with the UK Government by assessing their collective priorities, within the scope of fiscal sustainability for upholding good governance and economic development.
“I am looking forward to continued discussions on economic diversification, environment and green energy, and financial services. These are all key elements on which my government and I have remained focused, in order to develop and improve our Virgin Islands,” Premier Smith said, prior to his departure.
Among other topics, plenary sessions will focus on developing a strong collective brand for the British Overseas Territories, managing the social and economic values in small island communities, protecting the natural environment, as well as economic development and financial services.
The upcoming JMC will provide an opportunity for the UK and the OTs to work together on a wide range of issues and to agree on priorities and plans for implementation.
The annual meeting, which is being hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), brings together political leaders and representatives from the UK and OTs.
It also provides a forum for the exchange of views on political and constitutional issues. Premier Smith is being accompanied by Acting Permanent Secretary, Mr. Brodrick Penn and Director of International Affairs, Ms. Sylvia Moses to the pre-JMC meeting.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering will act as Premier until July 25 when Premier Smith returns to the Territory.
Honourable Pickering’s appointment is in accordance with Section 55 (1) of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order, 2007 which states, “If the Premier is expected to be absent from the Virgin Islands for more than forty-eight hours, the Governor shall authorise the Deputy Premier to perform the functions of the office of Premier; and the Governor shall revoke this authority on the return to the Virgin Islands of the Premier.”