Leaders of the statutory boards that oversee tourism, airports, seaports and telecommunications were in the spotlight on May 13 in the House of Assembly when Opposition Leader Marlon Penn asked Premier Andrew Fahie about the leaders and their stipends.
As part of his response, Mr. Fahie explained that government is taking measures to make these boards function better.
“Since this administration took office in February 2019, it came to light that most of the government boards were operating in silos, and not in the most prudent and efficient manner to ensure that their mission was in concert with the goals of the client, the government of the Virgin Islands,” he said.
One step to foster communication was permitting the chairs of the BVI Tourist Board, BVI Airports Authority and BVI Ports Authority to sit on one another’s boards, ac- cording to the premier.
This collaboration, he said, is helping “yield great dividends.”
The premier also provided a salary breakdown for some board members.
From March 1, 2019 until the present, the BVI Airports Authority chair received $22,791.69, the premier said. The deputy chair, meanwhile, was paid $17,321.69, and the total for all other board members was $110,720.14, he added.
The BVIAA chair is Bevis Sylvester, who receives $1,250 monthly, and the deputy chair is Patsy Lake, who receives $950, he said. Board members Judy-Ann Smith, Kelvin Hodge, Marlon Chocoutou, Raul Sprauve, H. Diego Penn, Theodore Burke, Nathaniel Isaac, and Ms. Boynes-Sprauve each receive $800 per month, according to the premier.
At the BVI Ports Authority, the chair received $39,000 from March 1, 2019 until the present; the deputy chair received $35,450; and members received a total of $180,640.78.
Looking at the monthly salary breakdown for the BVIPA, Mr. Fahie said Chair Kelvin Hodge receives $1,800; Deputy Chair Roxane Sylvester receives $1,500; and members Vin- cent Wattley, Keith Flax, Tamarei Wheatley- Hodge, and Damien Lettsome receive $900. He added that Kenisha Boynes-Sprauve and Bevis Sylvester are there “by post,” each receiving $900.
The BVI Tourist Board, meanwhile, received $37,800 for the chair, $31,500 for the deputy chair, and $170,100 for all members from March 1, 2019 to present, he said.
BVITB Chair Ms. Boynes-Sprauve (replacing former Chair Russell Harrigan) receives $1,800 monthly; deputy chair Mr. Sylvester (replacing Clyde Lettsome) receives $1,500 monthly; and the remaining members receive $900 monthly, Mr. Fahie explained.
Mr. Penn also asked about the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission. The premier did not read out a comparable summary of comprehensive spending since March 1, 2019, but he did offer a monthly salary breakdown.
Chair Vance Lewis is receiving monthly pay of $1,800; Deputy Chair Vincent Wattley is receiving $1,500; Commissioner Joycelyn Murraine is receiving $1,000; and Mr. Sylvester is receiving $1,000.
In response to a follow-up question from Mr. Penn about whether any of the board members re- ceived pay increases since March 2019, Mr. Fahie said he knew one or two positions had received raises. He promised to provide that detail to the opposition if it wasn’t already reflected in docu- ments passed across the table that afternoon.
Though Mr. Penn didn’t include it in his re- quest, Mr. Fahie noted the salaries of other statutory board leaders as well.
He said the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College board chair received $31,500 over the same time period; the deputy chair received $10,000; and $99,200 was paid for the total members.
Mr. Fahie also volunteered information about the Social Security Board: $28,800 for the chair, $24,000 for the deputy chair, and $115,200 for all members over the same period.
For the BVI Health Services Authority, he said the chair got $22,000, the deputy chair $12,832.26, and total members received $80,171.50.
At the BVI Financial Services Commission, Mr. Fahie said the chair got $48,000; the deputy chair $34,200; and total members $142,500.
The National Bank of the Virgin Islands chair received $57,500; the deputy chair $52,000; and total members $387,500.
Mr. Fahie also explained the leadership selection process.
“There have never been any legally established criteria published to select a board member, other than being a fit and proper person, and [with] approval by Cabinet,” Mr. Fahie said.
However, he added that government recently submitted to Cabinet a more structured set of criteria for choosing members, including a requirement to publicly advertise each position.
He said adding the guidelines is another step in improving the territory’s measures for strong self-governance.