PREMIER OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
AND MINISTER OF FINANCE, HONOURBLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
WEDNESDAY, 29TH DECEMBER, 2021
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2022
Good day and GOD's Blessings to everyone as we continue to look forward to 2022.
Let me first update that the Deputy Premier and I are progressing well towards a full recovery in a few days, as projected by our Health Officials.
I want to remind all of us to remain vigilant because COVID-19 has not gone anywhere. We all have to learn how to live and work in the new regular of COVID-19. More variants are emerging around the world, and numbers are rising. It is crucial that we continue to do our part by being vigilant and taking the necessary precautions to keep us all safe from this dreaded virus. Let us continue to pray for the full healing of all persons who have contracted COVID-19.
I wish to say at this time that as we approach the New Year, your Government continues to further strengthen our good governance framework through the passage of many significant pieces of legislation in the House of Assembly. The latest is the Integrity in Public Life Act which will do the following:
1) Clearly articulate the standards of conduct of Public Officers, Statutory Boards, and Elected Officials in the carrying out of their duties;
2) Further develop and strengthen systems of accountability, ensuring the adherence to public policy; and
3) Establish an Integrity Commission that would assist in achieving the Government's objectives to promote good governance, enhance ethical conduct of public officers, and strengthen the prevention and detection of potential corrupt acts by persons in public life.
By the first quarter in 2022, this Integrity Commission will be set up and made functional early.
Additionally, your Government will be bringing forward more Bills for discussions, debates, and approval that will further strengthen good governance and cement in the minds of all our people in the Virgin Islands that we can continue to police ourselves and manage our own affairs as we have been since our fore-parents said no to Grant-in-Aid.
Hence, expect the following bills, among others:
1) The Human Rights Commission Act;
2) The Freedom of Information Act; and
3) Amendments to the Registrar of Interests Act.
More will be revealed with the Speech from the Throne, which will be on the 18th January, 2022.
As we all know by now, the Speech from the Throne is compiled and written by the Premier and Ministers and delivered by His Excellency, the Governor. This is a projection of your Government's Legislative Agenda.
In addition to strengthening our good governance legislative framework, we will advance our progress on a new constitution. Your Government will make public the names of the Constitutional Review Team in a few days.
Also worthy of note is your Government hosting a meeting with all Horse Racing industry stakeholders at the start of the New Year. Horse racing is one of our main Cultural past times, and together we must discuss the way forward with this industry. More information will be provided on this.
In August 2020, during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) made the tough decision to reduce the hours worked by its hourly paid staff, as the operational needs of the organisation reduced. As a result, these employees’ salaries were affected because they were only paid for the hours worked and they took home less than they would have under normal circumstances.
I am pleased to inform the public that the Board of Directors of the BVIPA have approved one year of increments to be paid to all its employees upon successful completion of their performance appraisal by the first quarter of 2022.
In addition, all Port employees whose hours were reduced in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, will receive a "one-off" ex-gratia payment from the BVIPA. I am glad to have the workers at the BVIPA recognised for their invaluable service. This has been made possible due to your Government's many successful policies that significantly contributed to the positive surge being experienced in our economy despite the ongoing challenges created by COVID-19. We thank the staff of the BVIPA for their hard work and continued dedication to the Authority during the pandemic, which is ongoing.
Lastly, I want to thank all visitors, residents, and all Honourable Members for making the Premier's Cultural Christmas Day tourism initiative a success, as many of our people were able to enjoy our local food and music. This Cultural event was experienced in all nine districts, from Districts One to Nine, and in multiple areas in each District. This is true BVILOVE. Together we will always achieve more.
Let's look ahead to 2022 with the confidence that the GOD of our ancestors and fore-parents is still the same God for us today. They trusted in HIM, and HE didn't let them fail. So too, we now trust HIM and look forward to the same or even better results.
Thank you and God's blessings upon the people of the Virgin Islands!