BVI governance is very poor at public elected level – Sir Gary

Commissioner of Inquiry, the Right Honorable Sir Gary Hickinbottom.

Sir Gary Hickinbottom concluded that governance under the control of elected public officials in BVIs is uniformly very poor and lacks checks and balances.

The now-completed United Kingdom (UK) appointed Commissioner of Inquiry (COI) reached this conclusion in its report which was presented to Governor John Rankin several weeks ago.

“With few exceptions, the evidence received by the COI shows that governance in areas of BVI government under the control of elected officials is, at best, very poor,” Sir Gary said in his report.

According to Sir Gary, principles of governance such as openness and transparency were not simply absent, but were positively avoided.

He said proper procedures were not only lacking, but either grossly inadequate for their purpose or being ignored or circumvented.

The evidence is overwhelming

Sir Gary found that the evidence was overwhelming on this front and extended to almost all areas of government.

As examples, he cited the registration of interests, the distribution of public funds in the form of grants, the making and enforcement of contracts, statutory councils, the disposal of Crown lands and the status of residence. and property.

Sir Gary said the evidence suggests this attitude to principles of governance was pervasive throughout the BVI government under the control of elected ministers.

Sir Gary found that this had been the case for several years and in several different governing administrations.

The commissioner added that while some witnesses who appeared before the IC were determined to focus on the changes being made or contemplated, that in itself was an admission that all was not well.

Sir Gary said former prime minister Andrew Fahie and elected ministers said this governance failure was largely a consequence of shortcomings in the civil service.

At the time, the government said the civil service was underqualified, undertrained, underfunded and outdated due to the neglect of successive governors. Under the constitution, BVI governors traditionally have responsibility for public service.

But Sir Gary said he had found no cases to support this government-constructed narrative.

“Ministers-elect offer no other substantive explanation for the alarming state of governance,” Sir Gary noted.

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