Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley is calling the circling narrative that only one or two legislators caused the House of Assembly (HOA) to go into recess at the last sitting a ‘sham of a story’.
During the last sitting of the House, the government had decided to extraordinarily introduce and rush to pass the new Register of Interest legislation in a single day to meet a deadline it had promised to the United Kingdom. But after Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool raised several issues and noted that the bill was too important not to have public consultation beforehand, the bill was shelved and the House went into abrupt recess for two weeks.
Legislators like Vanterpool have been credited for speaking out and causing the recess but Premier Wheatley rubbished those suggestions yesterday.
He said: “When we looked at the excitement that the bill caused and the fact that the debate would go long, I for one had a graduation for Francis Lettsome that I was not prepared to miss. We collectively decided to recess the House as opposed to this sham of a story that one or two members stopped the whole process. Those things are not true,” Dr Wheatley stated.
“We collectively decided to recess the House and given the information we learnt on the same day, June 30, we decided before we went any further, we must consult public officers. We’ve been fighting for democracy. It is the elected representatives that said, let’s talk to the public officers. Let us give them an opportunity to have a voice. Then I am here reading nonsense headlines that ‘Unity Government slammed by whoever;’. Non-sense,” the Premier added.
He noted that the HOA has been fighting for the people to have a voice and it was the collective members who stopped the process and said “let us make sure the people have an opportunity to make their views known and we went to the public servants.
The Premier said there was a meeting and the civil servants spoke loudly and clearly about the issues they had concerning the Register of Interest Act, 2022.
“They did not do it on their own. We asked them to email their views and concerns so we can have something in writing. This is democracy that we can have something in writing saying public servants said they need more time or look, public servants are saying they have these issues. This is how democracy functions and how democracy works,” the Premier said
“Public servants or anybody in the public service cannot expect that you can sit down on your bottoms and lay back and things will work in your favour and your interest. You must get up and let your voice known. That is democracy. We’ve been going around and having public meetings all over the place,” he continued.
“We are saying that each recommendation must be consulted with the public and we want you to get involved. This is your home. The Virgin Islands
is your home and you have a right to be a part of the conversation and you have a right for your representative to represent your views in the House of Assembly and in Cabinet and wherever else,” the Premier said.