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Premier Wheatley reminds Hon Penn his NDP is ‘not without sin’

- as Hon Marlon A. Penn played the blame game & sought to wipe himself clean of Skelton-Cline’s contract scrutiny
Minister for Health and Social Development in the Unity Government and member of the National Democratic Party (NDP), right, Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) , was seemingly reminded by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7), left, that there is much blame to pass around; however, the goal should be to move forward together to improve where the Virgin Islands continues to fall short. Photo: VINO/File
The Auditor General’s Report on the Examination of Public Contracts issued to Claude Skelton Cline (dba Grace Consulting & Grace Center) from March 25, 2019 to September 17, 2021 was debated in the House of Assembly on February 21, 2023. Photo: VINO
The Auditor General’s Report on the Examination of Public Contracts issued to Claude Skelton Cline (dba Grace Consulting & Grace Center) from March 25, 2019 to September 17, 2021 was debated in the House of Assembly on February 21, 2023. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Minister for Health and Social Development in the Unity Government and member of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) spent much time in the House of Assembly (HoA) on February 21, 2023, seemingly trying to wipe himself and party clean of the controversial contracts given to consultant Claude O. Skelton-Cline during the Andrew A. Fahie led Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Administration.

He was; however, subtly reminded by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) that there is much blame to pass around; however, the goal should be to move forward together to improve where the VI continues to fall short.

The House of Assembly was at the time debating the Auditor General's Report on the examination of public contracts issued to Mr Skelton-Cline between March 2019 and September 2021.

In the Report, the Auditor General concluded that in the three consultancy contracts given to Mr Skelton-Cline, with an income of roughly $16,000 per month, he was paid exorbitantly and that his contribution to the success of the initiatives was marginal at best.

‘Fmr Cabinet has to take responsibility’- Hon Penn

According to Hon Penn, it was during the Andrew A. Fahie Administration, when he [Hon Penn] was Leader of the Opposition, that he had questioned various consultancy contracts being issued.

He also pointed out that Mr Skelton-Cline was part of the VIP elections campaign team.

“And the former Cabinet has to take responsibility for this, not whitewash it and shove it under the rug.”

Hon Penn emphasised that the Members of the Cabinet “who approved these things and the Members who went along with these things have to be held accountable too for their actions to the people of the Virgin Islands,” Hon Penn said during the Third Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly in Road Town.

Noting that even those at the level of the Treasury Department would have played a role in the matter, since monies were paid out to Mr Skelton-Cline even without deliverables, Hon Penn said: “Those of us who are complicit in their actions of aiding and abetting this system need to be held accountable, Madam Speaker.”

‘We are not without sin’- Premier Wheatley

Premier Wheatley; however, reminded the HoA that the Bible says he who is without sin cast the first stone.

“We are not without sin, we are not without blame,” Hon Wheatley stated.

According to the Premier, the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) audits placed “a real focus” on the VIP administration from 2019; however, CoI Commissioner Sir Gary R. Hickinbottom and former United Kingdom Overseas Territories Minister Amanda A. Milling have both said the failures experienced in governance span successive administrations.

Hon Wheatley noted; however, that while there is deficiency in some areas, the VI has far more areas to be proud of and that he was also proud of the legislators for committing to reform.

“But Madam Speaker, saying my sin is bigger than your sin, that is not going to get us anywhere. Saying, you know what, all of you are complicit in this and therefore you have no value or worth moving forward into leadership, that is not going to get us anywhere.”

‘Ploy for political power’

Dr Wheatley said if one is to look back past the three and a half years that was the focus of the CoI, one would find lots of examples where mistakes were made.

“We right next to the Elmore Stoutt High School right now and there was an audit on a wall, and there were individuals charged actually for that, and they led parties, and we stood next to them. We even wrote letters defending them.”

Dr Wheatley was referring to former Chairman of the NDP Myron V. Walwyn, who is also a former Education Minister in the NDP administration.

Mr Walwyn, is one of three persons charged for Breach of Trust in relation to criminal investigations into the ESHS wall project.

Dr Wheatley also pointed to the failed BVI Airways deal, where the NDP Administration of which Hon Penn was part of paid out $7.2M but the project never materialised. The NDP had also violated its own contract agreement in making payments without deliverables.

“And we could point to other places, Madam Speaker, if you talk about waste of government funds, we can look to the planes that never materialised. I mean I could on and on and on, Madam Speaker, but those things don’t get us anywhere.”

It was also under the NDP that Mr Skelton-Cline, who was a strong elections campaigner for the party from 2011, was named Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority.

In 2015, the NDP Government also illegally diverted some $8M intended for the East End/Long Look Sewerage Project to fund the development of the Tortola Pier Park Project.

Dr Wheatley said such pointing of fingers and dodging blame is just a ploy for political power.

“We need to learn from all of those experiences, whether they happened between 2011 and 2019, 2019 and 2023, whether they happened before them, learn from those experiences, grow and move forward.”

He called on politicians to present their plans to move the VI forward. “Tell us how we are going to improve these very same things,” Dr Wheatley stated.

28 Responses to “Premier Wheatley reminds Hon Penn his NDP is ‘not without sin’”

  • The Watcher (22/02/2023, 12:27) Like (18) Dislike (0) Reply
    "the Members who went along with these things have to be held accountable too for their actions to the people of the Virgin Islands,” Hon Penn said". Sure...let's see how that works out. One apology so far.
  • jack (22/02/2023, 12:32) Like (12) Dislike (22) Reply
    Good job showanda
  • Lucy (22/02/2023, 12:45) Like (24) Dislike (2) Reply
    The Premier's choice of words is interesting, then he gets so upset when people speak about him. I don't know what the purpose of this debate now.
  • Lb (22/02/2023, 12:55) Like (20) Dislike (2) Reply

    Funny how Sowande wants to be absolved of his behavior as Deputy and the decisions he signed to and his belligerent behavior in the COI! We are supposed to forget!

    But his defense is to go on offense? Up to now he has not apologized for ANYTHING he did. Kedrick and Ronnie openly apologized for their roles in the bad business decisions they made. Sowande actually was c******! 

    • Truth (22/02/2023, 15:31) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
      Lb, I agree with you. Our Premier has to be very careful when trying to throw stones because if he looks at the wrong doings by VIP according to the COI especially with CSC, the barge, the COVID grants and the list could go on, he would see that the amount of waste in Government funds totals more than the plane and the wall. I do agree that now is not the time to float around blame but the Premier and his members who were then part of the wrong doings should admit to their wrong and spend time trying to correct them.
  • Breach of trust (22/02/2023, 12:57) Like (54) Dislike (4) Reply
    If Myron is charge for breach of trust then the whole VIP cabinet should also be charge for breach of trust
    • Blame Britain (22/02/2023, 13:52) Like (15) Dislike (4) Reply
      They caused all of this division, in-fighting, disrespect and mis trust, they were supposed to take the place over fix it and pass it back...Then again, our people asked for a chanced, they were give a chance, the opportunity, Now they have no reason to complain if Britain decided, they have heard and seeing enough...
    • @ Breach of Trust (22/02/2023, 17:08) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
      ayo looking company, did the VIP take kick back on a wall or had people who did no work and got paid? According the the same Auditor General
  • Native senior citizen (MoG) of the British Virgin Islands (22/02/2023, 13:01) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    Blame casting duel

    The odd couple (our current Premier, and Minister of Health....) at it again. Both crooked, minded, both divided, both not united for the best interest of the people of the British Virgin Islands.

    Only the blind can't see. Only the deaf can't hear. Only the stubborn refused to grow. Only the passive and ignorant don't know that only
    God's love, when practicing same, will still the storms that have torn us apart, we now at war with each other.
  • Say no more. (22/02/2023, 13:31) Like (13) Dislike (3) Reply
    Hon Penn. Minister for health said it best..Said it courageously and correctly...Can't be said any better...I fully endorsed hon Penn statement...
  • herbs power (22/02/2023, 13:35) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
    Its election time now so this is expected.
  • Watching on... (22/02/2023, 13:47) Like (16) Dislike (11) Reply
    I glad he put Marlon in his place. We need to stop. The blaming need to stop somewhere. If VIP govt need to be held accountable, the same goes to NDP when they were in power...which also includes him! We all need to just come together and fix the mess. CASE CLOSED. Let the police and whoever do their investigations as needed and charge who they need to charge. Everyone else should be focused on moving forward learning from past mistakes.
  • resident (22/02/2023, 13:48) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    So bad decisions were made. We cannot live in the past. We have to learn from these bad decisions. It doesn't make sense playing the blame game. All who were there have to take their share of what was done wrong. You guys have an opportunity to ensure that between now and election better decisions are made. There is too much at stake.
  • lmao (22/02/2023, 13:59) Like (36) Dislike (1) Reply
    So tell me we had the ndp dem nearly sell we to the highest bidder, 7m gone from we treasury no one to account for. Now we had Foy who turned out to be the biggest T***f in the country and want to control illegal commodity to land at our port then he'll richer his friends in cabinet were silent. Then Jaspat call the COI. Now all these man and want to run again. Way then going cuz look the mess them goh we in. Governor make these guys ineligible to run for the nx 8 years pls.
  • weak (22/02/2023, 14:19) Like (18) Dislike (5) Reply
    Showdey arguments just as weak as his leadership. We saw the plane. We see the wall. We saw improvements in education. We saw a lot because the bush wasn't digging out our eyeballs when we trying to drive because there was no bush. What the hell you and your administration have to show for all them monies wasted. Your administration is one of fraud, bribery, corruption, money laundering, drug dealers, fake smiley in public, cant even put dirt in a pot hole. Best to take that weak push back somewhere else. I telling you when the governor come back, he coming to charge all of ahhyo. You and your current government.
  • Facial Expression (22/02/2023, 14:47) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Is saying )> ( WHEATLEY ) so you throwing rocks at me / (PENN ) no , I just say what I had to say
  • tallgirl (22/02/2023, 15:52) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wow! That is why nothing ever changes. When we do wrong we don't want anyone to talk about it. Talking about it should make you remorseful to the point where it is never repeated or you stop and re-evaluate your actions. We heard all about NDP wrongs. As a matter of fact Andrew shouted it every time from the Opposition, and that was ok as that was his job and we expected nothing less.
    Government after Government keep failing us because no one wants to hear what they are doing or have done wrong. When some brave soul states the obvious, what do we do? We attack the person's character or say they have something personal against the representative. People we cannot learn from our mistakes (that's what it is called now) if we are not willing to hear about them. You cannot learn from the past if you don't know the past.
  • Just Sayin' (22/02/2023, 16:00) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    i recall when the previous premier at a town hall.meeting clearly stated that " if skelton clyne does not produce the goods, his contract will be terminated. ( the meeting was at the HHLCC and the discussion aas do with the cruise ships and the upcoming program for the government to promote more ships to the territory.
    SC didn't perform, but he still got paid....that is just shocking..especially the amount of monies he was paid...for what ????
  • voter (22/02/2023, 16:25) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
    Right now I am so frustrated. Politicians after Politicians have lied to us, use us, thief the money and God knows what. Who to trust? All kinds of people want to run now. How do we know they are not going to do the same thing? Why does politics look so attractive to people now? I hear about 6 names calling for VG!! WHY??? Why all of a sudden you want to save this country??? I really feel England need to come in!! I DONT TRUST NONE OF THEM!! Right now if election is next month I'M NOT VOTING!!!
  • Dr. Manchild (22/02/2023, 16:48) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    But you started it, y’all are doomed
  • D8 (22/02/2023, 17:09) Like (1) Dislike (8) Reply
    Allen will take care of he! Smurf is gone next election GONE
  • Interested (22/02/2023, 17:10) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    So,is Sowande admitting that he and the VIP have sinned ? Lol
    • Listen SK Parliament.. (23/02/2023, 02:27) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Auditors Report present, more than $20 Mil missing ceom Their Local bank, they about to lock up the X Pm..
  • Hmm (22/02/2023, 17:42) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Those two better work together and make East End more beautiful and free from water running on the road.????
  • all the same (22/02/2023, 21:32) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Sick of all of them. All about self but pretending country above self. We are seeing through smoke. Clean up or clean out.
  • Blackbeauty (23/02/2023, 12:20) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    I find it very amusing how some persons quote certain scriptures from the Bible for their convenience. If you live honestly, there is no need to turn to the scriptures because your actions will speak loud and clear.

    All of the current Government Representatives need to go home and sit down. Our representatives sat there and knew things were not right on several issues regarding contracts but did not have the integrity to stand for the best interest of this territory.
  • Ha Ha Ha (23/02/2023, 17:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I love that photo! That's a fighting stance Premier. Let them know you ain laying down. The games have officially begun.

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