Mister Speaker, I wish to speak now on the appointment of members of the Recovery and Development Agency.
As background, Mister Speaker, the Recovery and Development Agency was established in 2018 by the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act, 2018 to manage the recovery process of the Virgin Islands on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands and as per the Government’s Recovery and Development Plan, post the unprecedented trio of disastrous events of August and September, 2017.
These events resulted in devastating damage to the social, physical and economic infrastructure of the Virgin Islands and resulted in the creation of an Agency to manage this complex process, according to the policy direction of the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Cabinet approved the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act on 14th March, 2018. The Act was passed by the House of Assembly on 27th March, 2018 and assented to by the Governor on 12th April, 2018.
Section 7 of the Act provides for the appointment of a maximum of nine (9) board members each of whom must be a fit and proper person.
Additionally, no member of the Board may be a member of the House of Assembly, an un-rehabilitated insolvent, convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty; or convicted of an offence under any other written law and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than six (6) months, without the option of a fine.
The members of the Board are to be appointed as follows:
- a chairperson, by the Governor in agreement with the Premier who shall first consult the leader of the Opposition;
- a deputy chairperson, by the Governor in consultation with the Premier after a joint selection process from a list of candidates;
- by the Governor:
- one (1) person selected by the Premier from the Sister Islands;
- one (1) person selected by the Governor;
- one (1) person selected by the United Kingdom Government;
- one (1) person who shall be between the ages of 18 and 35 selected by the Leader of the Opposition;
- one (1) donor representative;
- one (1) person representing civil society jointly selected by Cabinet and the Governor; and
- one (1) person representing the private sector jointly selected by the Cabinet and the Governor.
The Chairperson must be a person who belongs to the Virgin Islands within the meaning of section 2(2) of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order (2007).
On 18th April, 2018, Cabinet appointed the following persons to serve on the initial Recovery and Development Agency Board;
- Dr. Robert Mathavious - Chairman
- Pastor Gregory George - Member
- Ms. Maria Mays - Member
- Ms. Sharie de Castro - Member
- Mr. Clarence Faulkner - Member
- Mr. Clyde Lettsome - Member
The members were each appointed for a term of three (3) years with effect from 1st May, 2018 to 30th May, 2021.
At the time of the initial appointment, the UK Representative and the Donor Representative had not yet been agreed.
On 21st June, 2018, Cabinet approved the appointment of Mr. David Hancock as the UK Government Representative and Ms. Monica La Bennett as the Donor Representative for the Caribbean Development Bank.
Ms. Sharie de Castro after being nominated as a candidate on the Virgin Islands Party team, and subsequently secured an At-Large Seat in the 2019 General Elections on 25th February, 2019, tendered her resignation as a member of the RDA Board. Honourable de Castro was replaced with Ms. Shane J. Rhymer.
The tenure of the present members of the RDA Board will come to an end at 30th April, 2021 with the exception of Mr. Hancock and Ms. La Bennett, whose appointments will come to an end on 14th June, 2021.
Members have given written notice that they do not wish to continue serving on the Board.
We thank them for the exemplary work they all would have done to bring us to where we are today with our recovery projects. They were able to achieve many successes.
Mister Speaker, in an effort to ensure that the right person is selected and appointed the next Chairman of the RDA Board, to continue the critical recovery infrastructure agenda, the selection process was done through a series of interviews of prospective candidates.
On 19th April, 2021, a series of interviews were conducted.
The interview panel comprised His Excellency the Governor John J. Rankin, Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, Deputy Premier and Minister for Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, Leader of the Opposition Honourable Marlon A. Penn, Permanent Secretary Premier's Office Dr. Carolyn O’Neal-Morton and the Director of Communications Dr. Arliene T. Penn.
Mister Speaker, the recommendations from the interview panel was submitted to Cabinet for consideration.
Mister Speaker I am pleased to report to this Honourable House that Cabinet noted and endorsed the appointment of the following persons as Members of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Agency, in accordance with section 9(1) of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act for a period of three (3) years with effect from 1st May, 2021;
- Mr. Ronnie W. Skelton - Chairman;
- Attorney/ Mr. Jerry Samuel - Deputy Chairman;
- Mr. Shea Alexander - Member and Sister Islands Representative;
- Mr. Marquese Maduro - Member and person between the age of 18 and 35 years old;
- Attorney/ Mr. Michael Fay - Civil Society Representative
- Bishop/ Mr. John Cline - Private Sector Representative.
Soon these persons will receive their instruments of appointments from His Excellency the Governor.
I congratulate Mr. Ronnie W. Skelton, a person who is deemed to belong to the Virgin Islands in accordance with section 2(2) of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order, 2007. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Skelton Group of Companies. He is a former Minister of Finance and Deputy Chief Minister of the Virgin Islands; former Minister for Health and Social Development and a member of the House of Assembly. He also served as the General Manager of the BVI Electricity Corporation.
I congratulate the Deputy Chairperson Mr. Jerry Samuel who has been selected to be appointed by the Governor in accordance with section 7(1)(b) of the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act, 2018 (the 'Act'). Mr. Samuel is currently a partner at Conyers law firm and a former Public Officer.
I congratulate all the other members:
Mr. Shea Alexander has been selected by the Premier as the Sister Islands' Representative in accordance with section 7(1)(c)(i) of the Act. Mr. Alexander is an entrepreneur owning his own consultancy business. He is a former Public Officer and he resides on Virgin Gorda thus meeting the requirements for the Sister Islands' Representative.
The Leader of the Opposition has nominated Mr. Marquese Maduro to sit on the Board of the Agency in accordance with section 7(1)(c)(iv) of the Act. Mr. Maduro was born in 1990 and therefore comply with the provision of section 7 (1) (C) (IV) being a person between the ages of 18 and 35 years old.
Attorney, Mr. Michael Fay, who will serve as the Civil Society representative on the Board of the Agency in accordance with section 7(1)(c)(vi) of the Act, is a partner at ABVI Law, and has practised law in the BVI since 1996. Mr. Fay was appointed as a Deputy High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in 2011, and as a Deputy Court of Appeal Judge in 2017. He was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel in 2013. He also served as the Chairman of the Financial Services Appeal Board from 2016 to 2020. He has sat in the Court of Appeal in the British Virgin Islands, Antigua, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, and St. Lucia.
Mr. John Cline who will serve as the private sector representative on the Board of the Agency in accordance with section 7(1)(c)(vii) of the Act, is the Founder, President and Manager of INFINITE SOLUTIONS SYSTEMS LTD. (formerly COPYRIGHT SYSTEMS LTD.) for the past 27 years. He is also the Founder, President and Manager of Atlantis Solar, an alternative energy company for the past 10 years. He is the senior pastor and founder of the New Life Baptist Church located in Duff’s Bottom for the past 28 years.
There are others who will be appointed and once that information becomes available, I will be sure to make that available to this Honourable House.
The Board Members selected thus far were carefully considered ensuring that there is representation from a wide cross section of groups that will ensure that the recovery issues within the communities, the Sister Islands, business communities, civil society would be identified and addressed.
The persons selected thus far have the requisite requirements and a good understanding of the recovery issues that we face as a Territory and are all qualified and experienced to fill the positions in which they will be expected to serve.
Mr. Speaker the process of selecting the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, the person from civil society and even the business person was done in an unconventional way, but yet one that will reflect true good governance one that was not even etched in the corridors of the current Act in terms of methodology but was still used Mr. Speaker as this Government continues to be in the inclusion and included Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, His Excellency the Governor, and Premier which I thank all of them for agreeing to go through a process Mr. Speaker that allowed for transparency, that allowed Mr. Speaker for good governance, and that allow for the integrity of the process, Mr. Speaker to be strengthen beyond the regular way of how it was done. So, thank them all.
Mr. Speaker, I wish Chairman Mr. Ronnie W. Skelton, this new Board, all the Board Members, and those to come great success as we move the Virgin Islands forward.
Mr. Speaker, I so thank you.