Deputy Premier Kye Rymer today condemned rumours he said have been circulating across the Virgin Islands that the spouses of three Virgin Islands Party (VIP) legislators were granted Belonger status even though they did not qualify.
Rymer addressed those rumours in the House of Assembly (HOA) today. Governor John Rankin
had recalled the HOA to regularise the status of 688 persons who were erroneously granted Belongership back in 2019 and/or 2020 when they did not meet a particular aspect of the applicable legal requirements.
Rymer described this error as an “honest oversight” and hit back at detractors who he said has used the mistake to “spread misinformation just to seek to discredit persons running for office”.
“It seems some will spare no effort in doing so, even if it means hurting the innocent loved ones of persons even in this House,” Rymer stated. “They have gone so far as to falsely spread rumours that the spouses of certain Honourable members who applied to the Fast Track programme did not qualify for Belonger status, but that it was still granted to them. This is absolutely not so,” the Deputy Premier contended.
“Let me be perfectly clear, Honourable Neville Smith’s wife was married to him for five years and qualified based on section 16 (6)of the law. Honourable Sharie de Castro’s significant other satisfied the requirement for years required under Section 16(4), and the Premier’s wife by far satisfies the requirement of years required under the same section. When Cabinet approved applications, he recused himself and did not vote. Furthermore, Honourable de Castro and Honourable Smith were not a part of Cabinet at the time. But yet, those who are spreading misinformation are conveniently leaving that out to sway public opinion,” Rymer added.
He argued that it was “low” to use the lives of 688 people as political football and said those 688 are faultless in the entire ordeal.