Earlier this week, Opposition Leader and Eighth District Representative, Marlon Penn said the government’s failure to reveal a plan to accompany the December 1 reopening date raises multiple concerns. He said the government has failed to engage tourism stakeholders on the territory’s grand reopening.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, Second District Representative, Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull uttered similar sentiments as Penn. He said although his District is almost entirely dependent on tourism, stakeholders still have no idea of the reopening plan.
“My question is, ‘what is the plan?’ What is the plan for the businesses as we prepare to reopen this border?” Turnbull asked in the House of Assembly.
He continued: “The industry meeting needs to happen, so everybody can understand what goal they’re working towards to get themselves back into business because it would be a shame for us to reopen this territory looking the way it is.”
Turnbull said the Premier needs to do a better job of communicating with all elected representatives and not just members of his government.
“I keep hearing that we are in this together. We in what? When elected members of this House hear things on the street? The public hears when we hear about what’s going on in the country? I don’t know because the information is not shared,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull also called on Premier Fahie to share with the House of Assembly a letter that was written to the UK about the BVI’s position on publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership. He said matters within the financial services sector transcend political lines and should involve every elected member.
In response, Premier Fahie said the content of the letter he sent to the UK is the same as the statement he delivered in the House Of Assembly on September 22, in which he said the BVI is committed to implementing publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership provided that certain conditions are satisfied.
He said he also shared the letter in the House of Assembly WhatsApp chat group for other elected members to see.
“What I read in the statement is what I put in the letter. I put it in the House of Assembly chat for whosoever will, for the 13 members to read and see,” Fahie responded.
He added that the BVI was forced to make a commitment to implement publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership because the UK government had threatened to impose their own framework on Overseas Territories that refused to take action. Fahie said the framework the UK would have imposed would have taken control away from the BVI.
“The question you have to ask as a leader is, ‘do you want them to impose their framework … or we control our framework and send it to them?'” Fahie said.
As it relates to engaging all elected members, Fahie said some elected members are not aware of plans because they fail to attend meetings he often calls to engage leaders.
He said the Opposition Leader is the only one who attends all meetings and stays until they end.