Governor John Rankin chaired a Cabinet meeting held on Feb. 24 at the Financial Services Commission’s Conference Room. All members were present, and the Cabinet Office reported last Thursday that they took the following actions.

1. Noted Resolution No. 29 of 2021, titled “Reopening of the Seaports to International Ferry Operations,” from the BVI Ports Authority made on Feb. 22 and: a. deferred the March 1 reopening of the Road Town ferry terminal to incoming visitors to April 15 for the following reasons:

i. that islands within the region have reported increased numbers of Covid-19 cases;

ii. the increased possibility of the introduction of variant strains from international travellers;

iii. the demands of the rollout of the vaccines and the need to ensure a large percent of the local population is vaccinated, which have meant that the health personnel normally needed to assist in monitoring procedures at the entry portal are significantly stretched; and

iv. to enhance the customer experience through further infrastructural improvements at the Road Town ferry terminal and other ports of entry in light of Covid-19 health and safety protocols; and

b. requested weekly updates on the progress being made in meeting targets and any difficulty in meeting those targets.

2. Agreed to a variation of the major contract with Vilma Rosa Leon-York to provide legal services in support of the Virgin Islands Deposit Insurance Act for the completion of Phase II, the completion of the draft subsidiary legislation for the resolution of failing insured institutions framework; and Phase III, the completion of the draft legal reforms to the current legislation — and decided that payment of $75,000 for consultancy services be made.

3. Decided:

a. that the government pledges to contribute $778,000 between 2021 and 2024 to the tenth cycle of the Caribbean Development Bank Special Development Fund;

b. that the financial secretary instruct the attorney general to vet the draft resolution;

c. that the enabling resolution be laid on the table in the House of Assembly at the next convenient sitting; and

d. that funding in the amount of $194,500 be appropriated annually for the years 2021-2024 in subsequent budget estimates.

4. Reviewed and accepted the recommendations of the Board of Immigration to grant certificates of belonger status:

a. to six people who, in accordance with section 16 (6) of the Immigration and Passport Act (revised), are the spouses of belongers, and who have been living together with their spouses within the territory for a period not less than five years; and

b. to 21 applicants, who, in the opinion of the board, have met each of the legal requirements of Section 16 (3) of the Immigration and Passport Act (revised).

5. Reviewed and accepted the recommendations of the Board of Immigration:

a. to grant certificates of residence to 36 people in accordance with Section 18 (1) of the Immigration and Passport Act (as amended);

b. for endorsements of four minors in accordance with Section 18 (2) of the Immigration and Passport Ordinance; and

c. directed that the Immigration Department communicate Cabinet’s decision to the respective applicants in a timely manner.

6. Received the Health Emergency Operations Centre’s Situation Report #35: Reopening Update and:

a. decided that, in principle, allowance will be made to cover the quarantine cost for a five- to 14-day period, if required, for all nationals, belongers and work-permit holders entering the territory up to Feb. 28;

b. noted its decision of Oct. 28, 2020 not to continue paying for the cost of quarantine in a government-approved property for citizens, belongers, permanent residents and work permit holders past Feb. 28; and

c. decided that Seven Jewels Manor and Hotel Castle Maria be added to the list of government-approved quarantine properties, to support community quarantine and other special accommodation requirements, subject to approval of the financial arrangements by the Ministry of Health and Social Development in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, as needed.

7. Approved “a number of ” non-belonger’s land holding licence applications and an increase in an existing bank charge over Crown land leased for commercial purposes.

This information was provided by the Cabinet Office in a summary Gazetted last Thursday.