Governor John Rankin chaired Cabinet meetings on Sept. 13, 20 and 27 at the Premier’s Conference Room. All members were present except Communications and Works Minister Kye Rymer, who was away on official business on Sept. 13 and personal leave on Sept. 20; Education, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sharie de Castro, who was away on official business on Sept. 13; Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, who was away on official business on Sept. 27; Health and Social Development Minister Vincent Wheatley, who was away on official business on Sept. 27; and Attorney General Dawn Smith, who was away on official business on Sept. 13, 20 and 27. Members took the following actions, according to a summary published in the Gazette on Oct. 10.
1. Reviewed the document titled “2023 Statutory Boards Review” pursuant to Recommendation B24 of the Commission of Inquiry Report; and decided that it be tabled at the next convenient sitting of the House of Assembly.
2. Decided: a. that Vance Lewis be re-appointed as chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission for a period of two years effective Feb. 1, 2023, in accordance with the Telecommunications Act, 2006; and noted that Mr. Lewis will be remunerated at $1,800 per month, to be funded by the TRC;
b. that the Ministry of Communications and Works instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft a resolution to appoint the chairman in accordance with decision (a); and that the draft resolution be tabled at the next convenient sitting of the HOA.
1. Decided that a Public Service Management Bill be drafted to provide a robust legislative framework for the effective and efficient functioning of the public service; and that the Deputy Governor’s Office provide drafting instructions to the attorney general to draft the bill.
2. Approved the action plan developed in relation to the investigation of the Statutory Boards Review carried out pursuant to Recommendation B29 of the Framework for Implementation of the Recommendations of the COI Report and Other Reforms; and decided that Recommendations 2, 5, 6, 8 and 10 should be advanced for inclusion in the development of a statutory board policy in implementation of framework recommendation B25 for submission to Cabinet.
3. Noted that the amended Public Finance Management Act, 2004 in Section 36C mandates that the Medium Term Fiscal Plan for the territory be updated semiannually, and that the 2023 MidYear MTFP Update fulfils the requirement as stated in Section 36C(3); approved the government’s 2023 Mid-Year MTFP Update and decided: to send the update to be tabled at the next convenient sitting of the HOA; and to submit the update to the United Kingdom minister for the overseas territories.
4. Decided: a. that Memo No. 46 of 2022 be amended to include the following: an agreement that permission be granted to Columbus Centre Development Limited to surrender Instrument No. 165 of 2018 over parcel 129/1, Block 2937B, Road Town Registration Section, to allow Parcel 156, of Block 2937B, Road Town Registration Section, to be amalgamated to Parcel 129, Block 2937B, Road Town Registration Section, as demarcated on Cadastral Plan 2938B, of Road Town Registration Section (see Appendix L), to form one parcel;
b. that the Ministry of Communications and Works instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft a revised lease with similar terms and conditions as outlined in Lease No. 165/2018; and noted
c. that Deputy Premier Lorna Smith recused herself from the meeting for discussion of this paper due to a family interest in the matter.
5. Approved an application for permission to execute a payment plan with Bar Bay Estate Holdings Limited to continue to dredge the seabed and nourish and improve the beach at Bar Bay, Tortola.
6. Approved eight non-belonger land holding licence applications.
1. Noted: a. that authorised officers continue to provide positive feedback on the Devolution Programme, having received their 2022 Devolution Reports; and
b. the 2023 Assessment Report supports the expansion of the Human Resources Devolution Programme to Grade 12; and that the governor has agreed, in principle, to devolve authority from Grade One to Grade 12.
2. Reviewed and accepted the 2021 VI Recovery and Development Agency Annual Report and Audited Financial Statements; and decided that the report be laid on the table in the HOA at the next convenient sitting.
3. Approved publication of a notice in the Gazette by the finance minister to retroactively bring the Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act, 2017 into force as of Sept. 1, 2017; and decided that the Ministry of Finance provide drafting instructions to the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft a validation bill to validate monies collected pursuant to the Environmental and Tourism Levy to date.
4. Reviewed the recommendations of the Board of Immigration in respect of applicants for certificates of belonger status; and accepted
a. the board’s recommendations to grant certificates to 22 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; noted the board’s recommendation not to grant status on the basis of marriage to one applicant but decided to refer the application back to the board for further information, including whether the person and spouse lived together as husband and wife for a period of five years;
b. the board’s recommendations to grant certificates to 19 applicants, who, in the opinion of the board, have met the legal requirements of Section 16(3) of the Immigration and Passport Act (revised); and
c. directed that the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sustainable Development instruct the Immigration Department to communicate Cabinet’s decision to the respective applicants in a timely manner.
5. Received the updated version of the Independent Reviewer’s Report on Recommendation B33 of the COI Report, inclusive of its appendices, prepared by Kedrick Malone, and titled “Review of Policy and Process for Granting Residency and Belongership”; and decided that the updated version of the report be tabled in the HOA at the next convenient sitting.
6. Considered and approved, in accordance with section 95(1) of the Arbitration Act, 2013:
a. the renewal of appointments of the following members of the BVI International Arbitration Centre Board for a term of three years each, with effect from Sept. 7, 2023: Chairman John Beechey, Murray Smith, and Mark Forte; and
b. noted that all three members of the board have expressed a willingness to continue to serve as members.