Remarks By His Excellency The Governor
During Briefing With The Media
Friday, 01 November, 2019
Good morning All
It’s been a while since our last catch up, thank you for coming. It has been, as always, a busy period not least with supporting ongoing hurricane preparedness and recovery efforts.
As we come to the end of hurricane season, we should remain vigilant. We’ve thankfully avoided the worst of the season, but we’ve had a number of close brushes and we’ve sadly seen the devastation reaped on our friends in the Bahamas. I congratulate the Deputy Governor (who was Acting Governor as I was away) and the Premier on leading the Territory during the brushes in September with Jerry and Karen. And I would like to thank our Department of Disaster Management Team, Ministries, Agencies, voluntary organisations and most critically the public for their work to stay ready and safe during the season.
My office also participated in the Shake down on the 17th to practise our earthquake preparedness. That for me was a good reminder that we should ensure we are all personally, and collectively ready to respond to any hazards not just hurricanes.
Even as we come to the end of the hurricane season, there’s still a lot to be done to support our preparedness and I’m delighted that the Disaster Management Bill is before the House and that BVI is seeking reaccreditation with the Emergency Management Accreditation Programme next year. There is a lot to be proud of, and BVI is well advanced, including through shelter improvements, as we saw last week with the launch of the EU shelter programme.
You will also have seen that the RVIPF, customs and other security agencies have been hard at work and the great collaboration between our security agencies and neighbours, which have seen some significant drugs seizures. There’s a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes through many arms of the public service to protect our securities and livelihoods. I’m really pleased that there has been progress on both the Witness Anonymity legislation and Police Acts, which will hopefully be laid before the House of Assembly in the next session.
I’d also like to congratulate Superintendent Vanterpool who will be undertaking the Strategic Command training in the UK. This is an important step in RVIPF’s Capacity building and succession planning and I’m delighted that the UK has provided funding for Superintendent Vanterpool’s course.
Yesterday also marked the end of domestic violence month – the single most prolific crime in BVI. This violent crime needs to stop. Through our Criminal Justice Advisory Group, the Permanent Secretary in Health and the Deputy Governor’s Office are working together with key agencies to tackle this horrific issue.
Even though our agencies are tasked with tackling and responding to crime, I strongly believe that we all have a personal and collective responsibility to support them. Turning the other way should not be an option. If we witness illegality, it’s our duty to report it, and I would encourage everyone to think long and hard about this. I understand there are concerns in coming forward. But individuals can report crimes anonymously to the police too.
We are all obviously still focusing on recovery and everywhere you look, there is a lot of activity. The Ministry of Works is advancing plans on the Central Admin Complex, and there has been good progress on repairs to police stations and administration buildings.
But more still needs to be done. You will be aware that the Government has submitted its revised Recovery and Development Plan to the United Kingdom for submission as part of its request to draw down on the loan guarantee. This is now the subject of technical discussions between UK and BVI officials. I won’t comment in detail on this as discussions are underway. I hope though that this will pave the way for the acceleration of the Territory’s recovery.
With the Deputy Governor and teams, we’ve also been working tirelessly on public sector transformation, including advancing work on the Public Sector Management Act, and Integrity Commission. Work on both is advanced and I hope that we will be submitting to Cabinet and the House soon. Along with the work individual Ministries are undertaking to streamline plans, these two important pieces of work will pave the way for a more transparent and effective public service.
Before I conclude and take questions, I also wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate some individuals who are paving the way for BVI. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both Hakim Creque and April Glasgow. Hakim has just returned from the UK having received a distinction in his Law Masters – a UK funded Chevening Scholarship student. Hakim was on Chevening along with Britney Smith and I was delighted that two BVI stars benefited from this top opportunity. April Glasgow is just about to visit the UK to participate in the FCO’s International Leadership programme. The first Overseas Territory member on this programme. Both have demonstrated to me that the future is bright and I’m delighted that the UK has been able to support the development of the next generation of future leaders of the Territory.
I want to finish by thanking all of our Public Servants as we come to the end of Public Service Week and to thank the organising Committee. It continues to be difficult as we recover from 2017, but our progress requires the personal dedication of each and every one of you public servants so thank you for all you do.
Now happy to take questions.