During its first three weeks in office, the new government has made some major changes. At times, the public has struggled to keep up.
Starting immediately, the Virgin Islands Party-led administration should keep the community better informed by implementing a transparent communication system designed to provide reliable and comprehensive information in a timely manner.
So far, important updates have tended to trickle out in bits and pieces, often starting with unconfirmed reports on social media.
Such was the case with the ministerial assignments, an early version of which first circulated informally via WhatsApp. Some online news outlets reported the initial information, which later turned out to be partly inaccurate.
Sweeping changes to ministerial portfolios were treated in a similar manner. Though some information was provided during the March 1 swearing-in ceremony for ministers, a full explanation of the new arrangement didn’t surface until a chart circulated informally via social media, which this newspaper then had to confirm independently.
The Beacon since has been told that the chart — which is of pressing public concern — might not be final, and up until press time yesterday government had issued no official announcement confirming its full contents.
We understand that the new administration is extremely busy right now, but as it settles in to office it will need to communicate better. Instead of informing the public through unconfirmed reports and sporadic social media posts, the new leaders should ensure that a comprehensive official message is disseminated soon after every major decision.
To that end, a good first step would be filling the government communications director position that has been vacant since last September. Then leaders should design an effective communication strategy that includes regular official updates and allows the press to find further answers with a phone call.
Government ministers also should make themselves available to the media on a regular basis. Though some ministers have been very accessible in recent weeks, Premier Andrew Fahie has not yet held a general press conference that would have allowed media members to clear up their growing list of questions.
He should do so soon. Then he should continue former Premier Dr. Orlando Smith’s tradition of holding such sessions every month or so, allowing the press to ask questions about topics of their choice. Other government ministers should follow suit.
The new government came to power rightly power promising transparency and accountability. That starts with keeping the public properly informed.