It was not my intention to make a submission to the Commission of Inquiry, nor do I have any interest in appearing before it, but after hearing the evening news on radio station ZBVI on June 23, I have an obligation to speak in the interest of justice and fairness.
The ZBVI report spoke about the COI’s perception of undue political influence in the public service. I can verify that undue political influence in the public service was initiated not by the politicians but by Governor Tom Macan, who served in the Virgin Islands between 2002 and 2006.
I was working in the Ministry of Education and Culture during the tenure of Mr. Macan, and I heard him, with my own ears, saying that the ministers were in charge of their ministries. I learned that the decision had been made during a retreat attended by ministers and administrators. I am sure that there are many who could testify to this truth if they have a mind to.
I was vehemently opposed to the idea because I knew that it would be a disaster. It was my view that ministers should be responsible for making policy, and civil servants should faithfully execute those policies. I felt that politicians needed to spend more time interacting with their constituents and leaving the administrators to do their work without interference.
To make matters worse, the Public Service Commission was reconstituted to include a member appointed by the chief minister and one appointed by the opposition leader. Can you think of a better formula for undue political influence in the public service of a small territory? I don’t think so.
I don’t know if it was a simple human error, a lack of insight, or a set-up. It seems to me that Mr. Macan should be called before the Commission of Inquiry to answer.