Premier Andrew Fahie accused Governor Gus Jaspert on Monday of rejecting the Public Service Commission’s recommendations on the recent appointments of permanent secretaries.
“I see his action as an insult to self-reliance, self-determination, modern partnership, mutual respect, and the democratic future of the BVI,” Mr. Fahie said in the House of Assembly, adding, “This is another instance of the empire tugging on our invisible shackles and dictating to us as subjects that we are not competent and capable enough to know what is good for us.”
He also called the action “an affront to the unblemished reputation, integrity and professional competence of our distinguished stalwarts who serve on the Public Service Commission.”
Nevertheless, he said he would work with the permanent secretaries on the VI’s ongoing recovery effort, and cautioned them that they were not indebted to Mr. Jaspert just because he appointed them.
It is unclear if the governor has ever rejected the suggestions of the PSC regarding permanent secretaries before, but Mr. Fahie called it an “unprecedented move” and said he has voiced his concerns to Mr. Jaspert.
Third District Representative Julian Fraser also suggested that the move was a first.
“Never, for the time I’ve been in government or in the opposition in this House of Assembly, have I ever heard that the governor imposed a permanent secretary on any ministry,” he said. “Never.”
Mr. Fahie went on to issue an ominous warning to the incoming permanent secretaries.
“Remember, others will come and give you things, put you in places to find out everything about you, to consume you, to rule you,” he said. “But then there are those of us who know no other place than the British Virgin Islands, the place they said was only good enough to be a bird sanctuary. My government will only require of you to work objectively and to do the best that you can with the best of your ability.”
Mr. Fraser also suggested that Mr. Jaspert has a hidden agenda.
“When you see a governor doing this, they got a mandate,” he said. “Watch him.”
The Governor’s Office did not respond to Mr. Fahie’s comments before press time yesterday afternoon.
On Friday, Government Information Services announced that the governor had appointed two new permanent secretaries and transferred three others.
The new appointments are Kedrick Malone, who was assigned to the Premier’s Office for a period of six months in the first instance on a contractual basis, and Department of Disaster Management Director Sharleen Dabreo-Lettsome, who was appointed to act as PS in the Deputy Governor’s Office.
Other permanent secretaries were transferred and given new portfolios. Carolyn Stoutt-Igwewas moved from the Office of the Deputy Governor to the Ministry of Education, Culture,Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture; Dr. Marcia Potter from the MECYAFA to the Ministry of Natural Resources,Labour and Immigration; and Ronald Smith-Berkeley from the MNRLI to the Ministry of Transportation,Works and Utilities.
Meanwhile, Petrona Davies remains as PS in the Ministry of Health and Social Development.
The GIS press release explained that the governor, “in accordance with section 92”of the Constitution, decided that the appointments would take effect between yesterday and Monday.
Section 92 of the Constitution empowers the governor to appoint public officers “acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission,” but it also stipulates that he can act against the PSC’s advice if he determines that it “would prejudice Her Majesty’s service.”
Deputy Governor David Archer Jr., who serves as the supervisor of the permanent secretaries said, “I am confident in the competence and commitment of our current cadre of permanent secretaries and their ability to advance government’s agenda while leading a dynamic public service.”