REMARKS BY PREMIER OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
TERRITORY DAY 2017
TERRITORIAL AWAKENING: RESILIENCE IN A TIME OF CHALLENGE AND CHANGE
FRIDAY, JUNE 30, 2017
Ministers of Education and Culture, Honourable Myron Walwyn,
Other Ministers of the House of Assembly,
Members of the House of Assembly,
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am pleased and honoured to join you, my fellow BVIslanders and residents in this annual celebration of Territory Day under the theme: Territorial Awakening: Resilience in a Time of Challenge and Change.”
This year in particular, is an especially significant one as we also reflect on the 50th Anniversary of the Ministerial Government in the Virgin Islands.
In 1956, when the Virgin Islands became a colony in its own right, it marked a significant constitutional step forward for us – Marking the beginning of our coming of age as a Territory.
The emergence of the BVI as a territory -- following the dissolution of the Federation of the Leeward Islands – stirred the independent spirit of Virgin Islanders.
Strengthened by our resolve and tenacity we were able to make the decision to adopt the United States Dollar as legal tender which helped to facilitate economic and global success in Financial Services and Tourism.
This drive for independence also established a system of self-governance which contributed to the development of our people and our Territory, based on the qualities to which we ascribe value.
The new system comprised of ministers of Government, holding responsibility for ministries assigned to focus on various subject matters.
Along the way, the portfolios of ministries were expanded and ministries were added to meet the demands of the public.
Today, we have junior ministers to assist in delivering the strategic objectives and policy goals on behalf of our people.
And we have observed along that journey that has brought us to where we are now that as we have progressed constitutionally we have as a territory also advanced economically!
Today more than even before we are living in a time of change and while we celebrate Territory Day we must reflect on the changes occurring all around us and determine how we position ourselves.
The Changes in administration in the United States, The changes in Europe, Brexit and the European Union.
The discussions between the United Kingdom and the European in particular could have significant impact on the BVI, On how we travel how we interact with and benefit from arrangements with the European Union.
Hence we have established a committee to review what those impacts may be and will be having along with our other Overseas Colleagues, dialogue with the UK on this matter.
We are now a people more focused and determined on our constitutional evolution and thus we have celebrated many achievements.
We have built schools, ports, a power plant, an airport terminal, a hospital, clinics, undertook land reclamation projects, developed our roads and infrastructure, improved our healthcare and social services, established a tourist board, improved the education system and navigated into the world of offshore finance and much more.
The BVI is a vibrant territory - one proven to be a real, balanced and sustainable economy.
Our Territory is a major destination for tourists from across the world. The BVI is recognised as a major player and contributor in the global economy through our financial services industry.
Our internationally recognised success in both the financial services and tourism industries are a direct result of the united spirit of purpose with which we consistently worked with each other, shoulder to shoulder as Virgin Islanders, to make things happen.
Territory day therefore encourages us to ask the question -- Who are we?
We are Virgin Islanders! Resilient and Strong!
We have built a great country, small in size but Big in stature.
We know the value of hard work.
We recognise the importance of understanding our past in order for us to chart the course forward.
As a people we will continue to celebrate who we are. We will continue to rise in the face of adversity and opposition.
We are a people who, through the “awakening of our conscience” have given new life to our Territorial pride, each time we sing the words of our Territorial Song, and adorn ourselves in our Territorial dress, displaying the colors of the spirit of our people.
Each time we proudly recite our Territorial pledge – we are reminded of who we are and from whence we have come.
Today, as we observe our historic journey to this moment, it is imperative that we honor the dynamic legacy of the brave men and women who sacrificed so that we may celebrate today.
It is imperative that use our voice to continue to build on the ideals we hold dear in order to secure the future of the Virgin Islands. We must continue to shape the BVI just as our forefathers did.
My Government will do what we need to do to strengthen the Territory and to protect and advance the BVIs interests.
As a people it is our duty to consider what the BVI will be like in the next 20 years and to lay the foundation today for that success story tomorrow.
I envision a Territory that will continue to foster growth and political advancement, and receive global recognition in financial services, tourism, music, fashion, education, sports, maritime superiority and other areas.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The year 1967 represents a significant step in the political life of our nation, and we have much to be thankful for.
We are thankful -- not only for Territory day but we are also thankful for the 50 years of Ministerial Government, 40 years of the Ministry of Finance and it is also noteworthy to mention 10 years of the Constitution Review.
On this day, Territory Day – and every day, let us think back on our past to draw inspiration and hope for the future – and let us find strength to continue the BVIs progress and evolution.
I encourage you to listen out and join for a number of activities, including a Special Sitting of the House of Assembly, to be held in October in observance of our legacy of self-sufficiency.
May God continue to bless you all, and may God continue to Bless these Beautiful Virgin Islands!