Governor John Rankin has threatened to publish a number of reviews arising out of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) that the current government has withheld from the public for months.
The governor stated at a press conference yesterday, April 6, that this will likely be done in the coming days and ahead of elections this month, if the government does not publicise the long-delayed reviews.
In his most recent quarterly report, Governor Rankin noted that while some progress has been made on the recommendations put forth by the COI
, there is still a lot of work to be done. Rankin disclosed that a number of the reviews which were commissioned have now been received, including a review on Statutory Boards and on the Distribution of Crown Lands.
He reminded residents that the statutory boards review carried out by Jamal Smith was received on December 31, while David Abednego’s review on Crown lands was received on January 13. However, neither of these reviews have been made public, denying residents an opportunity to read for themselves the direction their proposed reforms will take.
Rankin pointed out that, similarly, the review on Social Assistance conducted by the Social Policy Research Institute in support of UNICEF is yet to be published despite having been received on January 18. He added that, considering the sensitivity of the issues arising from the Assistance Grants Audit, the public will be interested to see what solutions the experts recommend.
“I believe the reviews need to start being made public now, and unless they are otherwise published shortly, I will take steps to do so,” Rankin stated.
According to Rankin, it is imperative that the government considers the recommendations in the reviews, consults on them as necessary, and then gets on with delivering the necessary changes.
Other areas of delay the governor alluded to include reforms required to curb the unfettered discretion of government ministers.
“I welcome the fact that there has now been agreement on adopting the Protocol on Appointments to Statutory Boards, but in my view it should have been adopted sooner, and again, it has not yet been published.
In his last quarterly review, Rankin highlighted delays in the processing of applications for Residency and Belongership. He said there continues to be a huge backlog of old applications, and since June 1, 2022, more than 1,000 new applications have been made, with little if any progress in dealing with them.
Rankin said he is working with the Premier and his office, as well as the Deputy Governor’s Office to find a solution.
“This will require a significant commitment of time and resources, but this should have happened already. Under the Framework document, the Government made a commitment to prioritise and allocate resources to the agreed reforms,” Governor Rankin said.
Less than half and behind initial deadlines
According to Rankin, the government has completed only 20 of the 48 recommendations, which is less than half and behind initial deadlines.
Lord Goldsmith, the United Kingdom Minister for the Overseas Territories, has responded to Governor Rankin’s quarterly report, noting that progress on implementing the recommendations in the framework document has been too slow.
Goldsmith said he is concerned that there have been signs of insufficient commitment in some specific areas and that much of what has been delivered so far doesn’t yet represent sufficient reform to prevent future governmental abuses.