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Weakened, marginalised & embarrassed: Premier Smith fights back

- Responded to Governor John S. Duncan almost stripping him of his Finance portfolio
Premier of the Virgin Islands, Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL) has described the move by Governor John S. Duncan OBE to exercise his reserved powers under the 2007 Constitution as concerning. Photo: VINO/File
It was just last month that Governor John S. Duncan OBE made public that since the National Democratic Party (NDP) took office they have cut the Police operations budget by some 46% percent and told persons at a government ceremony that this administration has no regard for ‘priority in spending.’ Photo: VINO/File
It was just last month that Governor John S. Duncan OBE made public that since the National Democratic Party (NDP) took office they have cut the Police operations budget by some 46% percent and told persons at a government ceremony that this administration has no regard for ‘priority in spending.’ Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It seems like the Virgin Islands has a new Emperor without clothes, even though Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) was quick to respond to the bombshell of an announcement made by the United Kingdom appointed Governor John S. Duncan OBE that he had exercised his reserved powers to direct the Accountant General via warrant to allocate the sum of $800,000 to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF).

In an equally hurried national address following the weekly programme Umoja on ZBVI 780 AM on Thursday March 16, 2017, the Premier of the Virgin Islands questioned the motive of the press conference and called the action “extremely regrettable and concerning.” He also made reference to a five percent increase in budgetary allocations for the RVIPF, over last year, including several cheques that are allegedly still awaiting pickup by the RVIPF at the Treasury Department since December, 2016.

Cheques for VIPF collecting dust since December- Premier

These approved financing allegedly include funds for six interceptor vehicles, an upgrade of CCTV camera system, purchase of law enforcement equipment, renovations for the Road Town Police Station, maintenance of engine of police boats among others have been, according to the Premier, at the Treasury  Department collecting dust since December.

Some $116,000 for the continuation of a “prudent” police operation is in the Ministry of Finance pending a formal request to process the funding, the purchase of vehicles for police training and supplies for new equipment for police training camp, have all been approved and paper works received, Premier Smith stated.

“As you can see, this government has never shied away from ensuring the safety and security of the people of this territory and providing the finances to do so, and we are not about to do so now,”

Extremely regrettable & concerning

Premier Smith remarked. “I find it extremely regrettable that the Governor should feel it necessary to invoke his reserved powers on matters such as this, where more funding has been given to the police in 2017, ongoing initiatives are well supported, and there are proper governance and administrator processes to be followed that can be found in any democratic society.”

In addition, he said it was “extremely concerning,” since in addition to rules provided in the budgetary financial resources he, along with the Deputy Premier Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) and the Commissioner of Police Mr Michael Matthews, meet biweekly in security meetings where concerns relating to safety and security are dealt with.

“We have always dealt with these in an amicable and respectful manner and I am fully confident that this will continue.”

“ I am not sure what the motive of the governor was,” he continued, “calling this press conference, but the people of the territory will recall that we have just concluded the budgetary process where this Honourable House has allocated $16.1 million to the police force; an increase over 2016 of $770,000 or approximately five percent.”

Background

The Governor John S. Duncan OBE, in what has been described as a hurriedly arranged press briefing on Thursday March 16, 2017, informed the public of his decision, making it the first time in the Virgin Islands’ modern political history that a Governor has used his reserved powers under the 2007 Constitution of the Virgin Islands to interfere in domestic affairs.

He had also made his intentions known to Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), Deputy Premier Dr The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) and the Cabinet Secretary, during an emergency National Security Council meeting held yesterday.

It was just last month that Governor Duncan made public that since the NDP took office they have cut the Police operations budget by some 46% percent and told persons at a government ceremony that this administration has no regard for “priority in spending.”

Governor Duncan told the few members of the press a few hours ago that “I just came from the National Security Council (NSC) meeting where I met with the Members to discuss the shortfall in the budget for the police force...After a long discussion I informed the Premier that I am not prepared to allow the situation to continue so I am invoking Section 103 of the Constitution, which allows the Governor to authorise that expenditure.”

RVIPF always received monies- Premier

Meanwhile, Premier Smith gave the assurance to the people that special budgetary attention was always given to the RVIPF. The same is true for the other law enforcement organs of the Governor’s group, such as the Magistrate’s wing, the Attorney Generals chambers and the Supreme Court.

He said these departments are considered important, for the proper functioning of the safety and security of the people and in cases where matters come up in which there are no budgetary allocations, the RVIPF is always given “extra consideration.”

Proper documentation required

Premier Smith further informed that the Ministry of Finance requires proper documentation-invoices, agreement of contracts- so that requests can be processed in the proper manner, as per the Public Finance Management Act, so as to ensure proper governance and transparency principles.

His close to nine minutes response ended by reiterating the government’s “unswerving” and “unreserved” commitment to the RVIPF and the safety and security of the people of the VI, vowing to ensuring that all law enforcement will be upheld in the highest standards and support it to the highest levels.

27 Responses to “Weakened, marginalised & embarrassed: Premier Smith fights back”

  • Refereer (17/03/2017, 10:40) Like (56) Dislike (0) Reply
    My money on the governor in this fight
  • Welsah (17/03/2017, 10:53) Like (33) Dislike (4) Reply
    Who really wearing the pants now Premier?
  • girly man (17/03/2017, 11:03) Like (36) Dislike (7) Reply
    getting licks at home, getting licks in politics, and now- getting chastise in public. This is who we voted for.
  • .... (17/03/2017, 11:17) Like (17) Dislike (2) Reply
    Puppet
  • LOL (17/03/2017, 11:21) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    Sheer damage control
  • So now (17/03/2017, 11:28) Like (35) Dislike (2) Reply
    he quick to wake up. Doc seems like only when his ego gets bruised, he quick to respond, just like when he fired our truth spitting pastor j. cline. Shame on you Doc, and your other NDP members for allowing us to get to this stage.
    • That's Right So now (17/03/2017, 11:52) Like (10) Dislike (6) Reply
      He can't fire the Governor, so now all he can do is try to defend. Everybody is saying the same thing. Listen NDP, listen. I beg you all to listen! Who don't hear does feel.
    • de watcher (17/03/2017, 12:55) Like (14) Dislike (6) Reply
      too late for Mr. ZZZZZZZ give the portfolio to Ronnie W. Skelton
  • Kermit (17/03/2017, 12:17) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    We know you was going to bawl. Just a matter of time and you going to bawl some more. You wanted NDP you got NDP. But they should've been named MDP .

    MORE DAM PROBLEM
  • Kommon (17/03/2017, 12:20) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    "The actions of the Governor were noted to be as a result of the lack of resources and the adequate skills needed to properly serve and secure the community, in addition to combating the Territory’s crime epidemic."
    Now get funds for immigration and customs.
  • Bandit (17/03/2017, 12:46) Like (2) Dislike (8) Reply
    That is what happens in colonies.
  • Just the other day (17/03/2017, 12:53) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    Just the other day it was said that the queen is pleased with the way the NDP is running the affairs of the BVI.
  • right (17/03/2017, 13:48) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    The police force must have proper funding, its a good the the Governor is looking out for the people of the BVI as the Premiere does not seem to be.
    • wow (18/03/2017, 20:19) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Wow...$116,000 for prudent operations of police...but how much the Premier vehicle cost again? I think its about the same amount. Wow
  • vip (17/03/2017, 14:10) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    New party with fraser and orlando he he
  • son of the soil (17/03/2017, 14:20) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    The chickens are coming home to roost for this NDP Government to the detriment of the citizens of this Territory. This Government has gotten out of hand and as a result has lost touch with the people. The Governor is as much to blame for the current state of affairs in this Territory as is the Government. He sat quietly for two years and watched the fiscal mismanagement take place right under his nose and said nothing. He chose to stand and speak out now that he is getting ready to leave. He did a poor job of ensuring transparency and good governance under his watch. He will probably go down in history as one of the worst Governor to be appointed in the BVI and its all his fault.
  • LOL (17/03/2017, 14:58) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    John have a lot more blows to give this incompetent government and its weak leader. Enough sleeping on the job
  • Political Observer (PO) (17/03/2017, 17:37) Like (10) Dislike (9) Reply
    Undoubtedly, crime, especially violent gun crimes, are skyrocketing and need to be arrested. But the move, though permitted under the constitution, by Guv John Duncan is imperialist/colonialist, selected action and interference in local politics. It was a pimp slap in the face of the NDP government that was similar to the off topic comment at Her Majesty's prison about a month ago.

    The Governor is very selective in his actions, taking care of his boys. Prior to the 08 June 2015 general election, the Guv conveniently stayed out local politics by denying the Opposition request for a Commission of Inquiry on the Tortola Pier Park project. Further, there are other services that are unfunded like law enforcement, i.e. sewage collection/treatment/disposal..........etc but the Guv is as silent as a church mouse. Moreover, an annual financial audit has not been laid on the table at HOA for over a decade but nary a word from the Guv.

    Moreover, I'm not an advocate for independence but the VI need to move with Usain Bolt speed for constitutional changes to give it more autonomy in its affairs. That said, constitutional changes achieved, the electorate must stay engaged to hold government feet to the fire.

    Additionally, I'm not averse to increasing funding for the RVIPF. However, too often we throw money at a problem and often times money is not the core issue. Has the RVIPF demonstrated optimum use of the resources allotted? For example after dark, police presence on the streets is scarcer than gold at Fallen Jerusalem. Sitting at a desk waiting for a call or a visit is not the only action that should be going on. Police needs to be on mobile patrol 364/24/7. Criminals should always be on edge that cops are just around the corner. The element of surprise is valuable police action. Police presence deter crime.

    Moreover, there are no Pilates on this funding and crime issue. Government has the responsibility to commensurately fund law enforcement relatively to other needs. Of course, government will advocate that money is allocated based on competitive needs. Every agency will declare that their organization is highly critical and additional funding is needed. Thus, government must allocate funding based on competiting priority. Grossly overdue, government needs to release all the financial audits so that there is transparency on where the territory is financially.
    • Causality (18/03/2017, 06:24) Like (5) Dislike (7) Reply
      Political observer, lengthy episode sometimes have to make sense, resources for the police don't mean material things alone it also means human as well, if you don't see enough police at night, that's should simply tell you that the force lacks man power. Lets face reality and do the equation for yourself, the BVI with over 30000 people, just over 200 police to police these islands 24/7, 365. Take into consideration, vacation, sickness, the courts, HOA, festivals and other things. Tell me the possibilities of flooding the streets every night, 24/7, 365. Work it out for me please. You people think police officers are robots but you will not understand until you experience it yourself. The public service is bigger than the police, most of them work 8 hours a day then goes home and off on weekends, the police have to make sure these islands are police 24/7, 365, so please work it out for me MR. political O.....
      • Political Observer (PO) (18/03/2017, 12:25) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
        @Causality, each of us has our own opinion on the police resourcing issue. I will respect yours. Every issue has at least three sides to it. Yours, mine and somewhere in the middle lies the real tory. Magistrates and judges try to find the real tory every day. Policing is a vital public safety and quality of life issue and should get its fair share of limited resources. It is a priority and must compete with other priorities. Money is a critical fuel for effective policing but it is not the sole solution/factor for effective policing. Other factors include planning, organizing, directing and controlling---that leadership and management thing.

        I'm of the view that police should be patrolling our streets 365/24/7. This may not go over well with many especially the folks in law enforcement but it seems like at sundown police "haul en". Unlike foot patrol, mobile patrol cover a lot territory in a short period of time. The popo should be putting a ton of miles on their patrol vehicles. What is the minimum staffing of the force?

        The US Bureau of Justice Statistics(BJS) suggests typically 2-2.5 fulltime officers per 1000 population or 22 full time officers per 10K population. For the BVI with an approximate population of 30,000 this equates to 75 officers at the high end of the 2-2.5 range. Of course these are average and minimum numbers. Clearly, there are other factors that play into the numbers, i.e., terrain, number of islands.......etc. Others can dispute and provide their numbers, for I'm no law enforcement expert. Just a grad of Manda School. Is the current 200 person force a low number?

        Moreover, each of us act out of self interest. Very rarely do head of agencies admit that their agencies are adequately resourced. The exception to this is perhaps Rex Tillerson, current US Secretary of State. The State Department budget was cut(proposed) 30% and surprisingly the Sec. says no sweat. Invariably, agency budgets strive for the moon knowing that their actual budget will land somewhere between the moon and earth. Typically, BVI departments budgets are incremental budgets; ideally, they should be zero base budgets, i.e., every line item should be justified. Nuff talk, dun tark and time fe action.
        • Laughing. (19/03/2017, 21:42) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
          Dear Political Observer. You make me laugh. Before you compare US ratio of cops per 1000 to BVI's, you have to ensure that all other factors match up too. For example, have you ever considered the fact that US has more CCTV cameras per block than BVI has in the entire island (if any)?. The extra money is not just for man power. It is for equipment too. Do you know how much crime in US is solved due to tip offs. Guess what, there is money in a pot to reward people for tipping off. And if there should be a crisis in US, they can call in their military. Simply put, you cannot compare US to BVI. Next argument, but thanks for the laugh.
  • Snake Hole (17/03/2017, 19:33) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Me. Premier the motive of the Governor is to make the people aware that You wears two caps, when you go to NS meetings you wear one cap and promise many things, when you go back to your office as finance minister you put on that cap and broke all the promises you make at NS. The Governor is fed up of all the broken promises. Hence he uses his reserve powers. Things don't happen over night MR. PREMIER, the Governor must have reached boiling point
  • John (19/03/2017, 15:29) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    How does the Governor know there is $800,000 in the treasury? Seems to me that he should first order the Accountant General to do a financial audit. On the other hand, perhaps he should order walwyn to return the $1m he wasted on his stupid wall, over which any granny can scale without much effort. How about an audit on that wall.
  • LOL (19/03/2017, 21:45) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Lol
  • WTF (20/03/2017, 10:47) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Dr. Smith, it would have better served you, had you keep your mouth shut. Trying to defend the indefensible makes you sound stupid.


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