Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has signalled a clear desire to inject new energy into the ongoing governance reform process after his return from a recent United Kingdom (UK) trip.
Dr Wheatley told reporters at a recent press briefing that he held bilateral talks with the UK’s Overseas Territories (OT) Minister, Lord Zac Goldsmith, alongside Deputy Premier Lorna Smith.
“We discussed governance reform, among other things,” Premier Wheatley disclosed. “We agreed that now is the time to re-energise the reform process and to swiftly move forward with implementation of the remaining elements of the COI
recommendations and other reforms.”
Dr Wheatley said he will be engaged in discussions with Governor John Rankin
on any additional areas where an extension or timeline revision regarding reform deadlines may be required and said an agreement is to be expected in short order.
Premier Wheatley also pledged that, with regard to reviews that were recently laid before the House of Assembly (HOA), his government will soon consider recommendations and appropriate next steps to be taken in terms of legislative action and other measures.
“I want to reassure the public that you will have an opportunity to give input, which is essential for democracy and good governance,” the Premier added.
In the meantime, Premier Wheatley said he also met with Chair of the BVI All Party Parliamentary Group, James Sunderland. Dr Wheatley said the two discussed his government’s priorities, reform, and progress on building a new, modern partnership between the Virgin Islands
and the UK.
Dr Wheatley also hailed UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s approval of Ministerial leads in each UK government ministry to handle OT matters, calling it ‘very welcomed and very positive’.
He also credited this as an important shift in the UK’s approach and a critical step in renewing the modern partnership between the two governments. The Premier indicated that this new approach will promote the UK government’s commitment to the OTs beyond the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).