I’ll start this week’s commentary by imagining the resignation letter that could have been penned by Recovery and Development Agency CEO Paul Bayly.
Due to the obfuscation of the Virgin Islands government in failing to negotiate suitable terms for a loan guarantee, officials have been unable to even apply, let alone obtain, loans from financial institutions to fund the RDA programme, thus rendering my position untenable. The United Kingdom government is demanding strict rules because they see the need for overseeing the project independently of government in order to avoid conflicts of interest, waste and possible corruption.
This lack of progress in obtaining capital has meant that my team and I have been unable to carry out our mandate and have been left high and dry. Consequently, I have been sitting at my desk for 18 months with little to do except rearrange my coloured pencils and design paper airplanes that fly around the office and land in my waste paper bin (when I am not using it for carpet golf). I have now reached the end of my tether and, despite a pleasant salary, I hereby tender my resignation. I wish you luck in finding a suitably qualified Virgin Islander replacement who is experienced, capable, and unencumbered by family or political connections.
In other news, I sometimes worry for the health of our premier. He is firing off at dozens of subjects at once, and words and ideas tumble out of his mouth so fast that I feel he will shortly blow a gasket if he doesn’t slow down.
His latest outburst, against a far-off media report about medical marijuana which vaguely mentions a connection with the VI, is way over the top. Next he will be complaining about the recent BBC drama programme “Death in Paradise.” Though the show was not filmed in the VI, Season Nine, Episode Three recounts the murder of a cyclist from the VI, and there are scenes alleged to be of our hospital and derogatory remarks about one of the nurses.
Meanwhile, Private Eye magazine is published every two weeks, and hardly an edition passes without some (true) financial or criminal article with reference to the VI.
Mr. Fahie is also on about drag racing again. If you think you might like the idea and pay someone $96,000 to see if it is feasible, of course they are going to say it is. The premier talks about generating business and revenue and it becoming an industry. Really! Is horse racing an industry here? What does he mean by “drag racing”? Does he mean regularising kids on bikes or in amateurishly souped-up old Subarus racing on some part of one of our roads, closed for the occasion, or super-powerful and expensive proper drag racers, bought and imported at great costs and requiring teams of engineers to prepare and maintain? What kind of track? Safety measures? Emergency medical facilities including ambulance and helicopters? In bigger countries, pure drag racing consists of one or two cars competing for the fastest speed on a measured, dead straight, perfectly smooth surface. This usually involves thousands of people, and even more spectators — often many times our population. How many times a year does he propose races would be held, and what revenue would that bring in?
Regarding the high penalties for computer misuse and cybercrime, I hope the premier is not looking at me, and I hope the governor sends the bill back for re-assessment. One feels that there is some concern in the political classes about “abuse” — or free speech, as we would call it. Maybe the bodyguards had something to do with it. We can remember the rushed-through laws banning dreadlocks just because a couple of crooks came over, and making it an offence to change the traditional names of places just because Hodges Creek had become known as Maya Cove. In this connection, Peebles should remain “Peebles.” Remember, it’s against the law to change it.
Now for the recent change of party by Sixth District Representative Alvera Maduro- Caines. I cannot see the necessity of her decision at this point in the electoral cycle. We had an election won by the VI Party with a majority of eight to five members. Her switch will make absolutely no difference. Of course, it is up to the opposition to question the government side, or offer points, and for all sides to act for the good of the territory. For the past 40 years, bills before parliament have been discussed and all members from all sides have expressed their opinions, some supporting and some opposing the motion. However, when it comes to voting on the measures, they are almost always passed unanimously, meaning that the opposition votes with the government to pass the bills. This means that for all intents and purposes, after an election we virtually have a coalition government.
This new group Virgin Islands Voice really needs to get its act together. The entire residency/belongership ceremony was broadcast, and the name of every successful applicant was read out. If group members were given the list of names as they are requesting, how exactly would they check that everyone was eligible, and if they thought that some were not eligible, how, where, and with whom would they challenge it? Do they think that their challenge would result in an award being withdrawn? Fat chance!