Governor John Rankin has said he does not believe the blame for the inadequacies found within the public service can be laid at the feet of the Governor’s Office.
In a press conference held earlier today, a member of the media asked Rankin why past and present governors have seemingly been absolved of any responsibilities for the shortcomings of the BVI’s public service, despite the Governor’s Office being responsible for the sector.
In his response, Governor Rankin said this was something Sir Gary Hickinbottom
examined in his Commission of Inquiry
) report, and he supports the conclusion the Commissioner reached.
“The Commissioner clearly examined the issue in his report and in the hearings. One of the claims that were made was the failures in government were primarily the responsibility of the public service rather than the then elected government. And if you look at the report, you would see the examination of that point and the Commissioner has concluded and I have stated in my evidence before the commission. I did not believe that any inadequacies — it might be argued for within the public service — are sufficient justification for the failures of governors which are contained in the territory,” Rankin said.
“I believe that the conclusion reflected in the Commissioner’s report is accurate. But of course, where there have been wrongdoings and failures, then I do accept responsibility for that. As we know, there have been some bad apples in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, and I am determined to support the Police Commissioners in rooting out those rotten apples and ensuring we have a police force which lives up to the highest standard as I believe all agencies should do,” the Governor continued.
Rankin has also explained the constitutional responsibilities of the Governor which includes the responsibility for law enforcement and independent institutions in the territory.
“The Governor is responsible for the security of the territory and in particular policing. Secondly, the governor is responsible for external relations other than relations with regional organisations which are left to the elected government here. Thirdly, the governor working with the deputy governor has responsibility for the public service in particular the terms and conditions of the public service and the governor has responsibility for the independent institutions under the constitution,” Rankin said.
“The Courts, the Auditor General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Public Service Commission. Those independent bodies provide the checks and balances in any democratic system and my key job as governor is to carry out those jobs under the constitution and I will continue to do that. So long as I remain in office, and I am sure my successors will also. Those are my key roles which my predecessors have served, and I will continue to serve,” the Governor explained.
The issue of the Governor’s responsibility for the failings of the public service – as highlighted by the COI
– has been a major concern for many residents.
When the report was initially published and the threat of direct UK rule loomed over the BVI, many residents questioned why the Governor was not being held accountable for the shortcomings in law enforcement and the independent bodies for which he holds responsibility.