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$$$ needed but not at expense of constitutional rights- Claude O. Skelton-Cline

- said UK determining how VI recovery monies are spent is a stumbling block to constitutional advancement
In order for the Territory to get any money to help with the recovery efforts following hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 it had to agree to a new set of stringent rules set out by the United Kingdom. Photo: VINO/File
Acknowledging that money is needed right now in order to rebuild the territory, Social Commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton- Cline added that sacrificing the constitutional rights of the Territory is too high a cost and it should not be accepted. Photo: Facebook
Acknowledging that money is needed right now in order to rebuild the territory, Social Commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton- Cline added that sacrificing the constitutional rights of the Territory is too high a cost and it should not be accepted. Photo: Facebook
Veteran legislator Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) had also criticised the terms of agreement that the National Democratic Party (NDP) has agreed to with the United Kingdom in order to receive guarantees. Photo: VINO/File
Veteran legislator Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) had also criticised the terms of agreement that the National Democratic Party (NDP) has agreed to with the United Kingdom in order to receive guarantees. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The United Kingdom (UK) has stipulated the establishment of an Independent Recovery Agency Board that is to coordinate the spending of funds for the recovery efforts for the Virgin Islands (VI).

And documents obtained by our newsroom show that the UK Government does not trust the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government with the loan funds which they committed to back with guarantees. In fact, in many conversations both by the local Government and others in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, they are very skeptical about leaving any of this money in the hands of this government because of the history of financial mismanagement, reckless spending and alleged corruption.

But, according to social commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton- Cline, this demand by the UK hurts the constitutional advancement achieved by the Territory.

“In essence what the UK is saying in exchange for our guarantee of some 721 million dollars, that this agency will serve as a substitute government, which is to say that all of our constitutional advancement that have been made, all of the ministerial duties and responsibilities, is in fact being taken away.”

Mr Skelton-Cline was at the time doing what he calls his 10 minutes of commentary on his radio show, Honestly Speaking, aired Tuesday January 9, 2018 at 5:00 P.M. on ZBVI 780 AM.

He also highlighted that, according to the agreement, a chairperson is to be appointed and a chief officer or secretariat; the UK is to have an additional representative, on the board of the Agency and that Funds will be managed in a separate account under the authority of the chair of the board.

A substitute government?

It is usually the role of the ruling Government to manage the resources and finances of the country. This; however, will not be the case when the deal is sealed and implemented. At present there is no mention of a Budget outside of the estimated $721 Million that is in the recovery plan. If the Independent Recovery Agency Board is going to be managing that money then it goes to reason that they will be managing the territory.

This did not sit well with Mr Skelton-Cline, who said this is not a political matter but a constitutional one. “It has the import of constitutionality and our ability for self-determination. The blood, the sweat, the tears of our fore-parents, which some of them must be rolling over in their graves, to see that we have come to this place where we are even giving consideration for this kind of exchange.”

$$ needed but not at all costs

Acknowledging that money is needed right now in order to rebuild the territory, Mr Skelton-Cline added that sacrificing the constitutional rights of the Territory is too high a cost and it should not be accepted.

“If that’s the cost of the guarantee, if that’s the cost of the money, that is something that costs too much. And we need to push back and say if you are going to take away our constitutional rights, if you are going to take away our capacity for dignity in the human beings that God has created us to be, keep your money.”

He hastened to add, “It may take longer … at the end of the day if we still own our territory and own our land and own our hard assets, then I firmly and [will] be a supporter of one who says let’s go that route. The cost of this kind of money is beyond mortgaging, it’s really enslaving economically our children and grandchildren for years upon years to come.”

Government should be ashamed

The former Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) said Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith and his government “should even be ashamed to bring this to us, the fact that this is even under consideration is abominable.”

This is not the first time; however, that the NDP Government is coming under criticism for this agreement.

The Opposition Leader Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) reminded the House of Assembly in December 2017, that “the NDP has themselves to blame, as if they do not police themselves, someone will do it for you in a way you do not like.”

Prior to that, two HoA Members, Hons Ronnie W. Skelton (AL), the Minister for Health and Social Development and Julian Fraser RA (R3), a former government minister, spoke out against the terms set out by the UK.

16 Responses to “$$$ needed but not at expense of constitutional rights- Claude O. Skelton-Cline”

  • wize up (10/01/2018, 18:04) Like (2) Dislike (15) Reply
    let’s have Claude head up that board
    • Native son (10/01/2018, 21:22) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      So a number of issues that were really clouding the relationship with NDP and CSC have been cleared up.
    • Hmph (11/01/2018, 07:51) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
      Didn’t Claude spend more than that on the Pier Park?
  • Introspect (10/01/2018, 18:05) Like (20) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes, NDP has no one but themselves and C$C to blame; two words, Pier Park. The pot has spoken.
  • Concerned (10/01/2018, 18:08) Like (25) Dislike (1) Reply
    We cannot escape U.K. over seeing us until we have a truely GOOD government. Not one that hides from transparancy, will not audit for years, over spends every contract, does no bid contracts that are not allowed, puts a loittle something in key voters/friends/own pockets (Omar Hodge said it, I just repeat). If we want freedom fro U.K. overseeing every move (of their dollars), then do as a good government should!!
  • LCS (10/01/2018, 20:24) Like (32) Dislike (3) Reply
    It's business;it's not political. And who would blame the UK if "they are very skeptical about leaving any of this money in the hands of this government because of the history of financial mismanagement, reckless spending and alleged corruption". Being wise.
  • Thank heavens above (10/01/2018, 20:24) Like (22) Dislike (0) Reply
    I shudder to think of the funds being given without oversight. Thank goodness the UK will ensure that they are properly accounted for.
  • voter (10/01/2018, 21:43) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    The sad thing is that, whomever tries to clean up the BVI like Claude, Mitch and Andrew is usually vilified
  • Why. (10/01/2018, 23:18) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Why is Mr. Claude concern. Why is this bother him when he is always beating up on this government for been selfish. Greedy and unfit...I say no more..
  • LOL (11/01/2018, 00:31) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Take it or leave it
  • please (11/01/2018, 03:44) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    Do you think the citizens of the UK would be happy if their government just said we will guarantee $721 mil to theBVI and not have some say and control. Please get real, nothing to do with taking over the Bvi constitution just protecting themselves as any sensible guarantor would do
  • Flatbush USA (11/01/2018, 08:25) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    It was with much awe ( and some anger ) listened to Dr. A Smith as he spoke about the many struggles our forefathers endured in the face of colonialism . This should concrete our pride for our territory. Such information should be readily available to all and should be accessed online.( forgive me if this has been done) The thing is though our past should a catalyst to make us a better people and should not be used by anyone person to create public panic and for political mileage. In this case if the UK are taking the actions they do today to prevent our present politicians from "stealing" and to encourage transparency i totally agree with them. As someone said we have brought such actions on ourselves.
  • Roadtownrebel (11/01/2018, 09:34) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Air the laundry. Blow the whistle. some one have to do it. where the hell is the 4th district rep?????
    • pete (11/01/2018, 13:37) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
      he was one of the biggest perps when it came to overspending with lack of transparency. He was one of the biggest factors that UK doesn't trust BVI now. And NO audits on PP or government in general. Why should UK trust when BVI has not been trust-worthy? Now they want to revisit the airport, a new project when there is such need to fix old infrastructure? They don't make good decisions. Not even "free" ferry dock is realistic. Independence will only come when BVI can PROVE they are trust worthy and responsible and not petulant children wanting their way. Fast, cheap and easy is a myth.
  • jokes (11/01/2018, 10:08) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply

    Claude spent most of his time in the USA. Do you think the USVI can take Federal funding provided by the USA and do what they want with it? Stop acting like you didn't go to school man! If monies are provided for a purpose there is nothing wrong with proper controls being put in place to ensure that the monies are spent properly. The people of the BVI have long deserved proper roads, schools, police stations, clinics, hospitals and way of life on a whole. Thank GOD for Irma that we may finally get these things after electing clowns for the past 20+ years. Unbelievable that people still have this mentality "give me your money and leave us the #$%& alone...". This is the real world! Here is as kicker, for the past 10 years the BVI has spent over $3BILLION USD. $3BILLION! Let that sink in! Look around and tell me even pre-Irma if the BVI looked anywhere near a Territory where that much money was spent.

    • LCS (11/01/2018, 17:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      To that you can add the 2010 debt of the BVI was 440 million USD. Wonder how much is now? Anyone knows? Just curious.


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