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Ronald Smith-Berkeley confirmed as PS for MNR/L

- One year contract ends, officer is now permanent & pensionable
Ronald Smith-Berkeley has been appointed to the post of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. He is now permanent and pensionable after his 1 year contract has expired. Mr. Smith-Berkely is an indigenous Virgin Islander who can trace his roots to some four generations of Virgin Islanders!
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour is responsible for land, agriculture, labour, national parks, sea bed matters, the environment, non-belongers land holding licenses, and airports among others. Photo: VINO
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour is responsible for land, agriculture, labour, national parks, sea bed matters, the environment, non-belongers land holding licenses, and airports among others. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – As was first and accurately reported by Virgin Islands News Online, Ronald Smith-Berkeley was appointed to the post of Permanent Secretary (PS), Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour (MNR/L) for a period of one year with effect from May 2, 2011.

Months after this news site’s article, the appointment was also confirmed by Government via a press release from the Government Information Service (GIS).

Now word has reached this news site from its well-placed sources, that Mr. Smith-Berkeley has now been confirmed to the post of Permanent Secretary after his one-year contract had expired earlier this month and enjoys the support of the subject Minister Dr. the Honourable Kedrick Pickering.

Under the Constitutional Order of 2007, no one can be appointed as Permanent Secretary within a Ministry unless they have the blessings and support of both the subject Minister and the Premier of the Virgin Islands

This means that Mr. Smith-Berkeley is now assigned permanent and pensionable to the post of Permanent Secretary in the MNR/L.

It is uncertain why the long time Deputy Secretary Janice Rymer, who acted as Permanent Secretary after Mr. Clyde Lettsome retired in January of last year, was unable to secure the top post. Recently, she has been reassigned to the Labour Department to act as Commissioner.

Berkeley’s qualifications
According to this news site's research, Mr. Berkeley is expected to earn a Doctor of Philosophy this year and currently holds a Master of Science Degree in Economics and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing.

He was a senior lecturer at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, Paraquita Bay campus where according to the institution, he lectured in economics, advertising, promotion and retail management.

The new PS last worked in central government at the Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour as a Human Resources Manager from October 2004 to October 2009. According to information obtained by Virgin Islands News Online, he was the retail Director at Roadtown Wholesale Trading Limited from August 2001 to September 2004.

When contacted, Mr. Smith-Berkeley said he did not have a comment to give at this time.

Lettsome’s retirement and controversy
Mr. Smith-Berkeley will take the helm from the last holder of the post, former PS Clyde Lettsome, who began his retirement from the Public Service after 28 years of service to the Government of the Virgin Islands in January 2011.

Mr. Lettsome joined the Service in April 1982 as an Environmental Health Trainee before rising to the ranks of Environment Health Officer then subsequently, the Manager of the Solid Waste Department in 1986 and 1994 respectively.

He then served as Permanent Secretary in the then Ministry of Health and Social Welfare from 1999 – 2003 and as the Permanent Secretary in the then Chief Minister’s Office from June 2003 – 2008.

Despite glowing tributes from many who worked with Mr. Lettsome, including former and current Ministers, a former Chief Minister, Governors and his colleagues, at the end of Mr. Lettsome’s departure from office, he came under fire from some critics when it was reported that he may have been retained by former Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Omar W. Hodge as a consultant on some projects.

Businessman turned independent political candidate Lorie A. Rymer, who was at the time of his comments vying for the 9th District seat in the 2011 general elections, wrote a letter to the Governor in protest of Mr. Lettsome’s proposed consultancy to the MNRL.

Mr. Rymer had told Virgin Islands News Online on Thursday, January 27, 2011, that the role of the former Permanent Secretary in the MNRL is a conflict of interest since he now works with David Johnson Group of Companies – a company hired for the Oil Nut Bay development in Virgin Gorda.

“It is untenable that someone who used to work for Government and was charged with regulating that company now works for them. But to compound that by returning to Government as a consultant and argue against the Environmental Council of the VI of which I am a member is utter nonsense,” Mr. Rymer had declared. “So he is going to be across the table from us with the Oil Nut Bay developers and then in turn consult Minister Omar Hodge on the same issue. Does that make sense?”

According to the outspoken former candidate, such a move was “corruption at the very depth and when we look at the bowels of society it is not permissible”.

Permanent Secretary’s post – three removed prematurely under VIP
Mr. Smith-Berkeley, who will be joining the ranks of the PS post at a challenging time, becomes the chief advisor to the Minister on all matters under the Minister’s portfolio which includes land, agriculture, labour, national parks, sea bed matters, the environment, non-belongers land holding licenses, and airports among others.

However, within the last year and a half, three Permanent Secretaries have been prematurely removed from office under the former Virgin Islands Party Government of Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE. One has been placed on leave according to most, on the basis of a false, malicious, politically motivated, outrageous, racist and libelous article written in a local tabloid, the BVI Beacon.

Another PS last year had requested that her retirement be made effective immediately following a diplomatic letter leaked to the public, and an allegedly contentious relationship with her former Minister. The request was granted.
After the general elections of 2011 that Permanent Secretary was quickly returned to the Premier’s Office.

Furthermore, last year before the general elections, another one was removed after a tenuous working relationship with the subject Minister who had a laundry list of complaints and told the Governor he could no longer work with the PS.

Admittedly, the three situations seem to be contrasting in nature. Two are based on alleged poor working relationship with Ministers of Government and the other a case where the then Minister had requested that his PS be returned to office both publicly and privately. The then Minister’s political party has since lost the elections, and the PS is still on leave.

Under the National Democratic Party Government, two Ministers, Mark Vanterpool and Myron V. Walwyn have called publicly for their acting PS to be confirmed to their posts.

Meanwhile, Mr. Smith-Berkeley will also become the accounting officer in his Ministry and will be a very senior public officer. The salary for Permanent Secretaries range from $78,043 to $107,071 per annum.

22 Responses to “Ronald Smith-Berkeley confirmed as PS for MNR/L”

  • fun (23/05/2012, 14:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    WELL SAW...
  • local girl (23/05/2012, 14:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I have no problem with this appointment he is an indigenous person...he born here and so is his prarents…..good to go!
  • Crank Shaft (23/05/2012, 14:28) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is how you deal with your people, not having them acting for years and years, disgruntled and stressed!
    • FYI (23/05/2012, 17:32) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      But there is no confirmed PS in that ministry, so therefore he can be confirmed.
  • faith of our fathers (23/05/2012, 14:32) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    congrats Ronald
  • Well done (23/05/2012, 14:35) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Great appointment, Ronald is a very honorable man
  • saying (23/05/2012, 15:48) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Mr. Smith I am trying to get intouch with you.
  • The Crazy 88's (23/05/2012, 16:47) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    As long as he from here!
    • Janet Williams (24/05/2012, 01:09) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      now Myron let's see if you would look for an indigenous Virgin Islander to make your PS..follow Dr. Pic lead
  • k (23/05/2012, 18:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Arlene Smith I hope you are next to get confirm. You are acting a long time now.
  • qc (23/05/2012, 20:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    From my experience working with Smith-Berkely, I know he to be a consummate professional...big ups
  • hog city (23/05/2012, 21:21) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    good pick doc pickering this man has integrity and high moral standards...all the best
  • war crime (24/05/2012, 06:56) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I give the ndp credit on this one, mr berkely is born here and is qualified!!!!
    • Bolly (24/05/2012, 11:47) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Who are his people? Born here is not enough.
      • ppa (24/05/2012, 16:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        his brother is lesmore smith and thoes people his mother was a fahie so he is an indigenous Virgin Islander who can trace his roots to some four generations of Virgin Islanders...unlike two Ministers of governemnt hip hip to you ronald
      • Bolly, u really said that (26/05/2012, 20:01) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Sound so crappy bout "born here is not enough who are his people?" Seems like BVI would not mind incest since the only persons welcomed are indigenous people living on one island. So u mean if someone parents ain't from here and living here for Years and years they still worth nothing! Hmmp hope y'all feel the same way about all your friends and family abroad living in other people's territories.
  • Full Blast (24/05/2012, 11:52) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Thats my former teacher.....Kudos Mr. Smith Berkeley....All the best!!! See you in church!
  • Amen (14/11/2014, 16:12) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wishing u the best man. stand up and do the right thing brother. Belonger forever


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