People think we benefit financially as a UK territory
Prime Minister Dr. Natalio Wheatley has noted that many residents are afraid to change the BVI’s status as a territory for fear of losing fundamental advantages they believe the country enjoys from the United Kingdom (UK).
The Premier said efforts must be made to educate the public about what the BVI are currently receiving from Britain, as it will put people in a better position to discuss the territory’s political progress.
“Despite what we’ve been telling people, some might think the UK is giving us money or grants and things like that. And what is more likely is that nations with a lower per capita income will get these big grants and despite our relationship with the UK government we will not get these big grants because of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Rules,” Premier Wheatley said.
He said the public needed to realize that becoming more independent did not mean the BVI had to give up all the institutions it now has as a result of its link with Britain.
“Independence is of course not the only way. But suppose you become independent, you can still keep the legal system you have, you can still keep the Privy Council as your ultimate appellate court. People need to understand these things because they might feel like there’s going to be some sea change that’s going to hurt you in some way, and people need to be properly educated so they can consider the next steps,” he said the prime minister.
Premier Wheatley also encouraged the community to look at the British Virgin Islands’ state of readiness in comparison to Caribbean nations that broke ties with the United Kingdom in the 1900s. He said he believes the BVI are in a far better position than those countries were then and that this could be a good indicator of whether the territory is ready to move forward politically.
“People need to consider whether we are in a lesser state of readiness in 2022 than Jamaica was in 1962 or St. Kitts was in 1983 or Antigua was in 1981. Is our economy stronger than those economies would have been then? I’m not exactly sure, but I do know that we have a thriving financial services sector and a thriving tourism sector. We are considered a middle-income country with a very decent per capita income. Not to say we don’t have our challenges, but are we really that far behind all these other independent countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East when they became independent?” said Premier Wheatley.
The public is divided regarding the political rise to the BVI. Some sections believe that the UK as a governing authority helps keep elected leaders in check, while others believe the BVI is fully self-governing and the UK as a ‘mother country “ should give up.
Copyright 2022 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or distributed.