Crime and the economy should top the next government’s list of priorities, according to respondents who completed an unscientific online survey conducted by this newspaper.

Of the 167 people who answered the question, 127 ranked crime as a top-five issue and 122 ranked the economy as a top-five issue out of 11 options including the environment, roads, good governance, social services, youth matters and health care. Education was the third most selected, with 95, and sewerage ranked fourth, with 85.

The survey was posted online at for about four weeks in May and June and at for about two weeks in June and July. Respondents were not asked to provide any information about themselves.


When it comes to how exactly the government should help combat crime, the survey asked respondents to prioritise six possible choices. The highest-ranking option was stiffer penalties for convicted criminals. Implementing holistic programmes for youth came in second.

Adding more police officers and seeking outside assistance were seen as middle priorities, while new leadership in the police force and arming police officers ranked lowest. Elsewhere in the survey, however, 51 percent of respondents said they would support routinely arming police officers.

Meanwhile, 17 respondents said they would choose a different measure not on the list. Of those, three respondents said surveillance cameras should be a top priority.

Other suggestions included foot patrols; mandatory minimum sentences for gun-related crimes; more discipline in the police department; more training for police officers; more raids and searches; and unifying the customs, immigration and police enforcement units into one force.


Respondents seemed to feel that more planning needs to go toward the VI’s two economic pillars; tourism and financial sector.

Ninety-five percent of respondents said government should create a national plan for tourism, while 78 percent said the VI should have a ministry of tourism.

Almost 76 percent said that if the territory continues to use its current tourism strategy, fewer tourists will come to the VI in 10 years’ time. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they would support the extension of the runway at Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport to allow for direct flights from the United States.

Eighty-eight percent said the financial services sector needs a national strategy.

Many people – 61 percent – said that agriculture can become a sound third economic pillar. About 59 percent said government’s greenhouses are a good idea.

A small minority – 13 percent – of respondents said they had attended a political rally so far this season, and many seemed to expect at least some change in government after the next election.

Seventy percent said they believe there will be a brand new government this year. Sixty-eight percent said independent candidates will win some seats in the House of Assembly.

Fifty-eight percent said they believe the next government will be a coalition government, while 60 percent said a coalition government is best for the territory.

Only 34 percent predicted that one party will win the elections outright.


Several questions addressed how the government itself runs.

The single most-agreed-upon response in the survey had to do with government spending of public funds: 96 percent of respondents said the government needs to do more to cut expenses.

Eighty-two percent of respondents said they would like the register of legislators’ interests opened to the public. Similarly, about 83 percent said that the VI government is not “sufficiently transparent.”

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that all HOA members should be elected at large, and 76 percent opposed electing all of them by district.

Eighty-three percent said that at-large members of the HOA should have a specific role in government. About 65 percent said the premier should be elected at large.

Sixty percent of respondents also said they would support implementing a two-term limit for legislators.

While 47 percent of respondents said the state of the VI’s environment is fair – as opposed to excellent (0.6 percent), good (7.9 percent), poor (23.2 percent) or very poor (21.3 percent) – almost half feel that in 10 years, it will be in worse shape than it is now.

Social Services

Although social services ranked low in most respondents’ list of government priorities, many people were clearly in support of specific social programmes.

For example, 80 percent said they support government’s plan to establish a national health care system. About the same percentage said they would support a national pension scheme.

Fewer, but still 62 percent, said they support a tax-supported affordable housing scheme. Forty-nine percent said they support a tax-funded unemployment plan.

General outlook

Most respondents – 84 percent – said they do not feel that the VI is headed in the right direction, although 60 percent said they are optimistic about the territory’s future.

About 80 percent of respondents said the territory is not better off than it was four years ago, while 62 percent said they personally are not better off than they were four years ago.