Tim Colley had a lot to say on Friday about the United Kingdom’s relationship with its overseas territories. But the reporters attending the press conference with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office official wanted mostly to talk about one thing: the Virgin Islands’ public finances and what the UK thinks of them.
Mr. Colley, the deputy director of the FCO’s Overseas Territories Directorate, was in the VI to follow up with Premier Dr. Orlando Smith on his November visit to London for the Overseas Territories Consultative Council Meeting.
While three days prior Dr. Smith described the state of the VI’s public finances as “grim” and “far worse than expected,” Mr. Colley declined to offer his own assessment.
“I think it’s a question for the BVI government to identify the areas of financial management that they want to improve and to set out where they think the financial management by the previous administration was not satisfactory,” he said. “It’s not an issue for me.”
But he added that the UK would like to work with the VI to improve the territory’s financial management and good governance. The last thing UK officials want to see is another “situation like Turks and Caicos,” he said, referring to widespread corruption and mismanagement allegations that led to a constitutional suspension and the imposition of direct rule by the UK.
See the Dec. 15, 2011 edition for full coverage.