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Should the VI revise its ‘General Orders’ once more?

- commentator discusses taboo subject governing civil servants
According to statistics, a significant proportion (over 30 per cent) of the VI’s workforce is employed by government. Photo: VINO/File
Commentator Natalio Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru felt that General Orders were preventing the people of the Virgin Islands from speaking out from things that were happening in society. Photo:VINO/File
Commentator Natalio Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru felt that General Orders were preventing the people of the Virgin Islands from speaking out from things that were happening in society. Photo:VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – “I think, unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get some of the changes that we want in society outside of government and outside of politics because the politicians wield so much power right now,” Natalio Wheatley aka Sowande Uhuru said in a recent interview with Virgin Islands News Online.

Giving an example, the outspoken commentator stated that if he was to criticise something that was happening in society it was quite possible that political representatives could put some pressure on him to be quiet.

“A lot of people are concerned about losing their jobs, because even people who work in the private sector, a lot of people who have businesses… we’re talking about General Orders and things like that, that are preventing people from being able to speak out as they would like in terms of what’s happening in the society,” he stated.

The General Orders, a wide ranging document which was effectively introduced in August 1971, governs channels of communication by civil servants among other things. The Orders which have been revised several times since, supersede corresponding provisions of the General Orders of the Leeward Islands made in 1956.

According to the General Orders, civil servants are liable to disciplinary action under the regulations of the appropriate Service Commission in respect of a breach of any of the orders.

Regarding channels of communication, the General Orders state, “An officer wishing to make representations relating to his conditions of service or any other matter of a public nature must first address his Head of Department or Permanent Secretary. If he is not satisfied by the reply he receives he may then write to the Chief Establishment Officer through his Head of Department or Permanent Secretary who must forward the communication without undue delay and advise the officer that this has been done.”

The document further states, “In every such case the Head of Department and Permanent Secretary should embody, in a separate memorandum, his own views on the representations made and forward this with the communication.”

Replies to the officer are required to be sent through the Head of Department or Permanent Secretary.

According to Wheatley, there is generally a real fear within society of getting involved in any type of discussion that would seem to be a criticism of any government official or any political representative.

According to statistics, a significant proportion (over 30 per cent) of the VI’s workforce is employed by government.

His solution to the problem, he expressed, would entail voting in a government that instils confidence in the people that they can fully participate in the democracy without any victimisation or any retaliation and also actually encourage people to become involved.

“I think that will help the society to develop the institutions necessary for political growth and political maturity,” the former political candidate said.

He also intimated that this change required leadership that would help provide the necessary economic security for the Territory.

When asked whether he felt the current crop of political parties or representatives were options that could lead the Virgin Islands in this direction, Wheatley said, “I haven’t seen much difference from the current crop than I’ve seen from previous crops. But I would still encourage them, they have some time left in their administration, to build a society that is democratic [where] people are able to participate.”

14 Responses to “Should the VI revise its ‘General Orders’ once more?”

  • prayer (27/06/2013, 08:39) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    nothing will change under inez and William two of um need to go!
    • @ prayer (27/06/2013, 10:12) Like (4) Dislike (22) Reply
      Not to worry about them two or the bow tie man, take heart, there is the Creator of all things, The Lord God Almighty, who will hand the right judgment to everyone. Hallelujah
  • REVISION (27/06/2013, 09:31) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    The "general orders" is a modern day tool to keep people in slavery. If a civil servant apply to the Trade Department,they have to get permission from their Head of Department first ,then seek permission from the Human Resources Department. If anyone in these positions do not like you ,your application is left on a desk somewhere "pending" clarification on some bogus clause or it just disappear. As to seeking part-time work any individual have to seek permission from the Department Head then from HR. If they do not care about ,your application will not be processed. This type of oppression needs to be stopped. We are in Economic Hard Times; and the people want to open their own business or work part-time to help ease the Economic stress that they are going through each day. If a check is made at the Trade Department you would see that there are a number of applications being held up pending a reply from the Human Resources Department.The Constitution of 2007 states that there is Equal Opportunity for ALL.
  • mother hen (27/06/2013, 09:58) Like (0) Dislike (3) Reply
    wow, the nerve of this guy, Natalio Wheatley
    • Art (27/06/2013, 12:53) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
      what nerve he is right on the ball...a progressive young man fighting for human rights and justice
  • Native Boy (27/06/2013, 10:10) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    the civil sevant if they had balls they should bring a law suit and leave the BVI government broke.
  • ,, (27/06/2013, 15:04) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    moral in the service is poor, and the productivity has dipped... sad state of aff
    • talk girl talk (27/06/2013, 18:26) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      What you expect if it’s now a political service driven that way from the top
      • AG (28/06/2013, 10:56) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Take your pick from the litany of incompetent, unethical and possibly criminal behavior and actions related to some at the top!!!
    • fact check (27/06/2013, 23:03) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      it will never get any better once the NDP is in power they have victimized and made everything political and got the civil servants feeling intimidated
  • billyb (28/06/2013, 00:15) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Who gives a crap about general orders, do they even regard the existing copy
  • sutdent (28/06/2013, 11:32) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    The NDP and its members should be barred from ever running for office again. They obviously have no morals, no shame and no conscience. It's not like they didn't know what they have done to the professional civil service would come to light, it's like they didn't care. Afterall, what penalty would they incur? Absolutely disgraceful!

  • jj (28/06/2013, 15:54) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    it will get better god is love
  • land mass (29/06/2013, 08:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    An interesting piece indeed and yes some changes to general orders will need to be made to ensure that there is no repeat of any such happenings of the rights of the people and what is currenlty going on.

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