During the 24-hour daily curfew in the spring, some households began running out of food, so government organised the distribution of relief supplies packed by volunteers throughout the territory.
Last week the House of Assembly evaluated opposition member Mark Vanterpool’s involvement in an $869,773 government contract for supplies provided during that time by One Mart, in which Mr. Vanterpool has a business interest.
The Constitution requires members of the House of Assembly to vacate their seat upon receiving a government contract unless they disclose it and get an exemption from the HOA.
On Sept. 22, the House approved a motion allowing Mr. Vanterpool to retain his seat while One Mart — for whose parent company Mr. Vanterpool serves as director — fulfils a contract with the Ministry of Health and Social Development. Government offered the contract on April 22 and the company accepted it on July 21 after providing the supplies to government from March to May, according to the HOA motion.
On Oct. 22, the House also approved a motion allowing Mr. Vanterpool to keep his HOA seat while benefitting from another transaction with government.
Shoreside Development (BVI) Ltd. — for which Mr. Vanterpool is a director — recently received a transfer of 0.125 acres of government-leased land, according to a second motion.
The land came from the estate of Lillian Romney, and the transfer represents the balance of the 50-year lease granted to her.
The motion did not disclose the value of the land, but made it clear that this transfer was in Mr. Vanterpool’s interest by virtue of his role as director of the company.
Support from Fahie
Premier Andrew Fahie voiced his support of Mr. Vanterpool during the debate last Thursday, saying that though the politicians may differ on some issues, he appreciated the businessman’s prompt actions to supply provisions during the Covid-19 shutdown and the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes.
He added that elected officials should not unduly benefit while serving in office, but they should not be unfairly barred from conducting business in a legal manner.
The premier sought to make it clear that the motions concerning Mr. Vanterpool’s businesses did not come from concern about any unethical behaviour, but rather to adhere to constitutional procedure.
Issues of financial accountability and freedom, he added, will be further addressed in a new ministerial code of conduct, which a committee chaired by former government minister Ronnie Skelton is currently reviewing. The premier said the committee is working hard on developing the new code but may need an extension.
Mr. Fahie also made the case for elected to get bigger retirement packages than the ones based on legislators’ basic annual salary of $36,000.