Premier Fahie suggested at a recent press briefing that his government had insufficient time to hire the firm, to Maitland Consultancy, that was issued a $750,000 contract to provide “integrated communications support” to rebuild and promote the brand image of the BVI.
With the Commission of Inquiry (COI) now complete and its report pending, the Premier said the country was forced to do damage control to protect its image and its tourism product.
“We trade on our name. Our name is all that we have,” the Premier maintained. “And when persons go after our name internationally like that without waiting for the results, they’re saying that you’re already guilty before the report was done and that those things, sometimes you never come back from them.”
He added: “So with that, I say that we have to make sure the that we continue to recognise those areas of concern that would have destroyed our name and make sure that we employ right away — we didn’t have any time employ right away — not only the public relation part of it, but also the legal part to make sure that we have legal representation.”
In further defending the tender waiver for the contract, the Premier reflected on allegations put forward by former Governor Augustus Jaspert at the COI that the government was in league with drug dealers.
“He went really deep, and while I respect governors, I thought that that was uncalled for because you are preempting the findings of the report by saying those things,” the Premier argued.
He continued: “And at the end of the day the country had to look about its image, because we have financial services, we have a tourism product and persons internationally hearing these kinds of things would think that there’s a set of gangsters running the country.”
The territory’s leader also reinforced his argument by suggesting that there was no tender process involved as the former governor selected the members of the UK-funded Commission of Inquiry.
“If there’s a specific area that you are looking into, allow it to take this course because, remember, under the law, the governor is the one that selects the Commissioner of Inquiry and there was no tender process that was done there, as far as I know,” the Premier said.