United Kingdom (UK) Minister for the Overseas Territories Lord Frank Zacharias Robin Goldsmith has indicated that progress on implementing recommendations in the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) framework document has been too slow.
This was outlined during a press briefing with Governor John J. Rankin CMG on April 6, 2023, where he provided Lord Goldsmith's response to the quarterly review on the CoI recommendations implementation.
On February 13, 2023, Mr Rankin published his second quarterly review of progress made under the framework, which was published in the [British] Virgin Islands (VI) and sent to Lord Goldsmith.
Governor John J. Rankin CMG on April 6,
2023, provided Lord Goldsmith's response to the quarterly review on the
CoI recommendations implementation.
Progress is too slow- Lord Goldsmith
In sharing Lord Goldsmith’s response, Governor Rankin said the Minister noted that during his visit in February, he was reassured by the Premier and Ministers of the Government of their commitment to promoting good governance and executing reforms.
“But he also notes in his letter that progress on implementing the recommendations in the framework document has been too slow. He is concerned that there has been sayings of insufficient commitment in some specific areas, that too many areas lag substantially behind, that much of what has been delivered so far doesn’t represent sufficient reform to prevent future abuse,” Governor Rankin said.
He added: “Overall, the Minister agrees with my conclusion, that serious efforts and clear prioritisation of time and resources are required to pick up the pace to deliver the reform that the people of the BVI want and deserve.”
Governor Rankin said his quarterly report had indicated that 19 of the 48 recommendations sent in from the CoI
report have been completed and he welcomes such progress, but he noted that there is still much more that needs to be done.
He said the VI government’s current count is that 20 of 48 recommendations are now complete and that a new deadline for implementation will be agreed on after the elections of April 24, 2023.
“But that is still less than half and it’s behind where we agreed to be as part of the initial deadlines. A number of the specific reviews which were commissioned have now been received…," Governor Rankin said as he opined that the reviews should start being made public now.
He noted that it is imperative that the government considers the recommendations in the reviews, consults on them as necessary and delivers the necessary changes as he pointed out that some adjustments to the deadline in the framework document will be required.
11 extensions to deadlines requested by VI Gov't- Rankin
According to the Governor, the Premier has asked for eleven extensions to deadlines in areas where he is responsible, while he has asked for two in his areas of responsibility.
“Minister Goldsmith has consequently asked me following the upcoming general election to agree with the next BVI government a refreshed timetable for the delivery of the remaining recommendations and reforms in the framework document. This should include ambitious yet achievable deadlines to ensure that the necessary reforms have taken root no later than May 2024,” he said.
Order in Council remains
The Governor noted that if that could be achieved it can allow the UK Order in Council to be lifted and the Order can be lifted sooner if the implementation can be achieved more quickly.
He concluded by reiterating that he welcomes the progress being made to date and the Premier has assured him of his commitment to implementing the CoI
recommendations and to achieving deep reforms which are required.
The Governor; however, re-emphasised that this has to be accelerated, as he noted that once elections are over he will sit with the new government to work out a refreshed plan.