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Gov’t Members were unaware of ‘High Level Framework’ document- Skelton-Cline

- alleged it was the Backbenchers who pushed for the document to be revealed
Former Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority and commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton- Cline during his show Honestly Speaking on ZBVI 780 AM on January 30, 2018. Photo: Facebook
The Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL) Administration has been accused of selling out the Virgin Islands and taking it back to grant-in-aid. Photo: VINO/File
The Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL) Administration has been accused of selling out the Virgin Islands and taking it back to grant-in-aid. Photo: VINO/File
Former Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority and commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton- Cline, left, and Social and Political Commentator, College Professor and President of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Dr Natalio D. Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru, right, on the show Honestly Speaking aired on ZBVI 780 AM on January 30, 2018. Photo: Facebook
Former Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority and commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton- Cline, left, and Social and Political Commentator, College Professor and President of the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Dr Natalio D. Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru, right, on the show Honestly Speaking aired on ZBVI 780 AM on January 30, 2018. Photo: Facebook
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- While the Draft Recovery and Development Plan document is widely circulated in the Virgin Islands, another document dubbed ‘High Level Framework for UK support to the BVI Hurricane Recovery’ is now making headlines.

Former Managing Director of BVI Ports Authority and commentator Mr Claude O. Skelton- Cline, who first read a portion of the document on his radio show Honestly Speaking on January 9, 2018, took the time to read most of what is stipulated in the document in his possession, while on his latest show on ZBVI 780 AM on January 30, 2018.

Top secret document?

Mr Skelton-Cline expressed concern that the document from the United Kingdom (UK), which had huge implications for the Virgin Islands, was being treated as top secret, even from the knowledge of other elected National Democratic Party (NDP) representatives.

In order for the Territory to get any money for hurricane recovery, it had to agree to a new set of rules stipulated by the High Level Framework for UK support to the BVI Hurricane Recovery. It had to agree to good governance and transparency in all ministries, according to the document obtained by our newsroom. The UK wants an Investment Development Agency Board to manage the money, taking it out of the hands of the politicians.

The UK is to have an additional representative on the investment board, and the VI cannot get any loans going forward unless they adhere to these polices where the UK will manage the hurricane funds.

The Board via the UK appointed Governor is to have monthly updates on how the money is to be spent, fiscal forecast and must implement public sector reform, which many have argued means public sector layoffs.

The measures, already signed off by the Dr Smith Administration, has tied incoming governments' hands for years, according to a senior NDP Cabinet Member, and many believe that Hon Smith has sold the country out, taking us back to grant-in-aid.

According to Mr Skelton-Cline, the part he has is from a five page letter written to the Premier as a response from the UK. “It is our understanding that somewhere around November 10, our government wrote to the UK. The UK then responded around the 24th or so of November but it was not until the week of Christmas that this document was shared with the rest of the sitting Government.

“It is our understanding that this letter came to the Premier and Minister of Finance and after some prodding and press by one of the backbenchers, I understand that this is how this letter came to be and some of them were seeing it for the very first time.”

Where is the Gov’t in the sunshine?

Mr Skelton- Cline discussed the letter with guest on his show, Dr Natalio D. Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru, President of the Virgin Islands Party. Both men expressed dissatisfaction that the document, which has so many stipulations to be brought on the people of the Virgin Islands, was not brought to the people.

“Something like this really should be discussed with the public. Just the title of it ‘High Level Framework’, seems to suggest that this is not something intended for a perusal by the general public and I think that’s unfortunate,” Mr Wheatley added.

This level of secrecy, where even members of government is left in the dark is not demonstrative of transparency and accountability in government. “In the name of confidentiality or secrecy, a lot of these stuff are being withheld from the real persons whom it will most affect,” Mr Skelton- Cline said.

The letter also stipulated the appointing of an Auditor General by April 1, 2018, a complete updating of the financial reports for the past five years, monthly financial reports up until December 2018 and quarterly reports from January 2019 and public sector reform, among other things.

This policing by the UK has seen many persons likening it to a step closer to colonialism, but have blamed the Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) administration for allowing things to reach this stage.

Chickens coming home to roost

It was Opposition Leader Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) who reminded the government some time back 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.”

But while many agree that most of what is being demanded by the United Kingdom is needed for transparency and accountability, they are of the view the UK has approached it in the wrong way.

In the words of Mr Wheatley, “This is the wrong medicine.” He continued to explain “We do need audits, we do need the Freedom of Information Act, we do need to adhere to the Public Finance Act, we do need to adhere to some of the other laws that we have in place.... all of these things are true. We do need accountability, we do need transparency, we do need fiscal responsibility but we need to be able to put institutions in place to allow us to police ourselves as opposed to going back to the days when the UK is in control of our destiny and in control of our fate.

27 Responses to “Gov’t Members were unaware of ‘High Level Framework’ document- Skelton-Cline”

  • wize up (31/01/2018, 11:07) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    we now have a government within a government: what starts bad can not end good: this administration should have continued the tradition of swearing any new governor at the house of assembly: that meeting of house of assembly in upstage the governor following the hurricane was another bad move: look the uk paid money directly to the commissioner of Police: my question remains what gone wrong in our country and all I coming with as an answer, is poor leadership
  • LEGION (31/01/2018, 11:12) Like (31) Dislike (0) Reply
    Unsustainable entitlement growth has led this country to the brink of national bankruptcy. And the lying and deceitfulness of this government continues after those deadly weather instances we all experienced and could have easily be ALL dead with no repentance or sense of truthfulness. Keep on living, keep on voting form incompetence,.-
  • ----------------- (31/01/2018, 11:15) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
    dr smith do not trust them they leak too much
  • Sammy (31/01/2018, 11:16) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    Fully agree with uk
    • dog (31/01/2018, 12:39) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
      thank goodness there is oversight. NDP brought it on themselves and now money is held up because there is no
      sustainable or intelligent plan to move forward.
      We need a master plan and executive manager who knows how to coordinate without the deep pockets wanting to be filled.
    • X F Secretary (31/01/2018, 12:53) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
      X FS Spoke brilliantly on this issue...He is got all the inside scope. The X financial secretary laid it out without fear and favor. Straight and honest... Its on us and our failures. Why Mama has to now tell us how to do things we knew how to do but failed to do.
  • Just Woke. Back Benchers sleeping (31/01/2018, 11:29) Like (1) Dislike (9) Reply
    These Back Benchers will regret not using the power they have to take over and change things.. When they are out of power and old they will regret Not taking over the country for their own good and their futuee..People are only loyal to you when they need you for their own Benefit...Switch make Frazer Premier, Frazer has less Scars than fahie and will get more rwspect abroad. Makw Maron Deputy..
  • zzzzzzz (31/01/2018, 11:51) Like (24) Dislike (3) Reply

    Same old #%$& rubbish! When Claude was at Port did he listen to the Public or he went ahead with his mandate to move the pier park and ports forward? When you know better, do better, ACT BETTER! You can bash the Government with real issues not these stupid political games. If you engage the public for every $%#& thing when will anything get done? Why elect a Government if they can't make a decision? Time to move this country forward and stop the BS. The people who are trying to convince us that they're fiscal conservatives pull their files. I have had enough of this nonsense, we need leaders to LEAD and get the place moving again, we don't have time to waste.

  • Gumbs (31/01/2018, 12:42) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Vote for the BVI Wombles them do more good !!!
  • Observer (31/01/2018, 12:51) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    My questions are what is wrong with the mentioned stipulation? Furthermore isn't it true that we brought this on our selves and gave the UK the opportunity to enforce them on us? There are those who will tell you that it is colonialism but we should not ignore the fact that as long as our Government (s) continue to use public funds without proper accounting, we will continue to attract undue pressure on our people.
  • See (31/01/2018, 13:07) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    What an unfair stipulation ..... good governance and transparancy . Have we gotten this pathetic in our country ?? An embarassment beyond comprehension . The world and more important our children watch this and see what is going on . Is there not one honest or competent person in government to lay it on the line and not just dribble for votes . Put an end to this national disgrace . Put you egos and pockets aside for just once in you lives and put your country first . Hope that is not to radical an idea . Time is running out
  • BVIslander (31/01/2018, 13:21) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    A vote of No Confidence should be nx and the Governor to dissolve the house paving the way for elections. I Hon. A. Second the motion.
  • batcave (31/01/2018, 14:30) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
    Ndp must go
  • Interesting (31/01/2018, 15:23) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    The RVIPF Commissioner was on air a few days ago talking about getting 1.2mil pounds (almost $2mil USD) from the UK to spend but they have to hurry and spend it by 31 March. Is that responsible? Yet we haven't heard anyone talk about that but painting our Government as the most corrupt?
  • wize up (31/01/2018, 15:25) Like (1) Dislike (4) Reply
    when will the good gentleman speak out about that project over on the cay: fussing about everything except the right thing: some school children saying over 10 million unaccounted for: one child was overheard saying some standby generators student said she waiting for part 2 of the press conference
  • Wendy (31/01/2018, 15:30) Like (9) Dislike (5) Reply
    The fact that NDPwas able to secure the loan lends itself to the confidence which the UK has for the party. Think a Premier Fahie or Cline could have done that??.The UK is guaranteeing the loan so why wouldn't they have strict oversight. A loan where responsibility for payment will fall on other parties now known and unknown through future years and changes of Govetnance.The NDP should be pleased to know that rules are in place to better guarantee the confidence which the UK has shown in the VI.
    You folks are being given pennies on the dollar of your own money paid for property insurance through decades.. A check in both your name and the bank . Just imagine. Payments for work doled to you only after proof of the completion of the stated work. Talk That!!! Insulting degrading and dehumanizing. In addition,your property is held as collateral by the same bank. They have your property and your money. Evidence of no faith trust or respect for the peons. No prior discussions or notification about it with you either. Now that is a real live message of abhorrence.
    UK restrictions on this unprecedented UK guaranteed loan are fair and proper in my opinion.
    • @ Wendy (31/01/2018, 18:35) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      I think it's safe for me to say, "YOU HAVE SENSE!!!" I couldn't say it any better and won't even try! People seem to think everybody stupid but they will learn. What the UK is asking of the Government for $300 million is nothing over the top. I'm backing your loan and I want you to do certain things to ensure that you don't default on it and I end up holding the bag. What's so wrong with that? Sometimes I wonder if Claude went to school after 3:15.
  • Diplomat (31/01/2018, 16:29) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    The VI I should regressing under the NDP government. Under the Wheatley government, the VI took a leap forward in weaning the VI off of grant-in-aid, taking more internal control its finances. Nonetheless, poor financial management over the years paved the path for the UK to intervene and imposed these borrowing stripulations. The winds of lack of transparency, accountability and good governance have been blowing for years. The lack of annual audited financial statements is an example of poor governance. The VI as an OT planted the seeds for UK interference; it brought the strict control and oversight on its self. The way forward should have been more internal self government. However, the government’s poor performance stalled this effort. Is this poor performance an anomaly or the VI is truly incapable of leading and managing itself? Is it in the same camp with many poorly led countries in Africa, South America, Caribbean, Western Europe, some US/US states.......etc? The bottom line is this is a disappointing turn of events? It feeds into the narrative that Black countries cannot lead themselves and invariably has to be rescued by others, ie, UK......etc.
  • Roadtownrebel (31/01/2018, 16:40) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    What I know of the tern rule of law as it refers to a principle of good governance in which ALL persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the STATE itself, are ACCOUNTABLE to Laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international HUMAN RIGHTS norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of SUPREMACY of law, EQUALITY before the law, ACCOUNTABILITY to the law, FAIRNESS in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, LEGAL certainty, AVOIDANCE of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.
  • NDP Bloggers (31/01/2018, 17:36) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    When NDP releases their bloggers like they did a few months before the last election Readers would think NDP is the best government in the world... Its a good strategy.. They usually take over all the online sites swamping them with praises for NDP...I can see it slowly coming...
  • @ Diplomat (31/01/2018, 18:40) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Good NDP or bad NDP, Irma was a total disaster and no matter who was in government would have issues dealing with it. Imagine just 4 months ago we thought that was it for the BVI, we thought we would starve, we thought we won't have power for a year, we thought all our jobs were gone, we thought everyone who could leave would leave, we thought the military would have to be here for at least 6 months to a year, we thought people would start starving and robbing/killing would've been the order of the day, we thought BVI would've ended up as a warzone, we thought financial services and tourism were officially dead, we were in a state of total chaos and nobody was spared the wrath. Fast forward just 4 months after and to hear these ungrateful comments and petty statements about the Government is ridiculous! Could the Government have done a lot of things different/better? OF COURSE! But to sit and act like absolutely nothing was done is just dishonest and shameful. 4 months later and while there is a lot to be done, so much HAS BEEN DONE! I'm sorry but if Irma taught us nothing about our nasty entitled ways, nothing ever will. God be with you all!
  • Windy (01/02/2018, 15:08) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Bring it on ! Best thing that could happen !
  • The real Boo (01/02/2018, 20:35) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    So the Detroitan thinks he can flap his pie hole about the NDPs failing and this will distract from the mess he left at the Ports. Both he and the Anguillan need to pay
  • The real Boo (01/02/2018, 20:58) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    What was the "High Level Framework" you and the Anguillan had at the Ports. Come on Claude..spill the beans
  • duncan (02/02/2018, 14:45) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Finally. This was the sure recommendation of former Governor Duncan that experienced first hand the corruption and/or negligence of local politicians.
  • Interested (06/02/2018, 09:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I back Wendy 100%.some of us come on here and blog without thinking,blowing puffs of smoke.
    Use your heads for once and not your emotions.

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