The Virgin Islands government needs another ministry.
That’s the position taken by Premier Natalio Wheatley who said an additional ministry would enable the government to properly handle all the areas they are appointed to oversee. There are currently five overarching ministry’s in government.
“We have provisions for a sixth ministry and in order to do that, we’d have to add two seats to the House of Assembly. That’s really a conversation to be had with the people of the Virgin Islands
to determine if this is something they have an appetite for. But with all the subjects we have, really the work needs an additional minister,” Premier Wheatley explained at a press conference earlier this week.
As an example of the many areas the government has to oversee, the Premier said he will retain his two permanent secretaries and will likely add a third to ensure all areas under his purview are given adequate attention.
Two additional electoral seats?
Later on in the press conference, a member of the press asked whether the two proposed seats could be added to the House of Assembly before the next general election. The Premier said this was indeed possible.
“There’s something called a Boundaries Commission. It’s allowed for in our constitution. We’d have to appoint a Boundaries Commission and there would have to be some level of consultation with the people of the Virgin Islands
and a decision could be made before the next election,” Premier Wheatley said.
Although he stressed the need for another ministry, the Premier pointed out that it is only “a concept” at this point, adding that he isn’t actively seeking to add two seats to the House of Assembly in the short term.
“I’m not putting forward any plans to appoint a Boundaries Commission. That would be something for the people. If they call for it, we can initiate. At this present moment, we are moving forward with the 13 members we have right now.”
He added: “And as you know, we have a constitutional review taking place right now and many persons have been discussing the At-Large seat versus the district seat, how we select the Premier and so on. So I expect those discussions to take place when we look at the report that will be produced by the Constitutional Review Commission.”