The Constitutional Review Commission Report was laid on the table during the Eighth Sitting of the First Session of the Fifth House of Assembly on Wednesday, 31st January, 2024.
The comprehensive report, which is 288 pages, is divided into six chapters and eight appendices. The Commission in its Terms of Reference was required to consider, among other things:
- the aspirations of the people of the Virgin Islands;
- how the executive ministerial government can be held to account in the HOA (e.g. by some different structure, number and/or configuration of seats) and/or in other ways;
- whether the current constitutional pillars of governance are sufficient, and in any event how those independent institutions can be effective;
- the powers that need to be reserved to the Governor, and how issues as to the exercise of devolved and reserved powers respectively, when they arise, are to be resolved;
- a mechanism for the transfer of reserved powers to the devolved Virgin Islands’ Government in the future, without a further change to the Constitution being required;
- whether there should be a regime in relation to election expenses in the form of a requirement on election candidates to submit a breakdown of expenses including donations above a specific sum and/or a cap on such expenses;
- whether statutory boards should be embedded in the Constitution and, if so, whether there should be a Statutory Boards Commission; whether the term “Government of the Virgin Islands” is intended to encompass statutory bodies;
- whether the Speaker should continue to be a political appointment, or whether he or she, even if elected, should be independent of the political parties; and
- without prejudice to earlier legislative action, clarification of the circumstances in which persons seeking election to the House of Assembly who contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands (either personally or through a dba, a partnership or a company with which he or she is associated), need to declare an interest, how such a declaration should be made, and the consequences of him or her not doing so.
The public is encouraged to review the report and familiarize themselves with its contents. The document is now available for public review and can be accessed here: https://bit.ly/crcreportbvi.
The Government of the Virgin Islands remains resolute in the promotion of the overall development of the Territory through the continued pursuit of constitutional goals inclusive of our commitment to democratic ideals, good government, and sustainable transformation.