Cabinet Briefs (Feb. 23, March 2, 11 & 16, 2022)

The content originally appeared on: The BVI Beacon

Governor John Rankin chaired Cabinet meetings on Feb. 23 and March 2, 11 and 16. All members were present, except Attorney General Dawn Smith, who was on annual leave on Feb. 23 and March 2, and Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley, who was on official overseas travel on March 2. Members took the following actions, according to a summary published in the Gazette on March 31.

Feb. 23

1. Agreed that the governor appoint June 3, 2022 as a public holiday to allow for the celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; advised the governor to issue a proclamation, pursuant to section 5(b) of the Public Holidays Act, to designate the public holiday; noted that $20,000 has been allocated for related event expenses; and decided that the Governor’s Office instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft the proclamation to give effect to the decision.

2. Decided and approved: a. the term “ministerial political adviser” be replaced with the term “special adviser” wherever it appears, inclusive of the job description and the Code of Conduct; b. that the following paragraphs replace the paragraphs under the section “Qualifications and Experience” in the job description as follows: i. Candidates of interest must possess experience and qualifications to meet the requirements of the role; and ii. the premier will evaluate the resumes of those being considered and determine who is best suited for the position; c. that all other terms in the job description previously approved by the Cabinet remain unchanged.

3. Decided: a. that a period of amnesty of interests accrued on property tax be granted from March 1, 2022 through Feb. 28, 2023; b. that the period of amnesty noted in decision sought will be superseded if a relevant amendment to the Property Tax Act (CAP 207) is passed by the House of Assembly; c. that decision sought be made available to property owners to pay the outstanding principal tax forthwith or agree to a payment plan with the commissioner of inland revenue to liquidate the principal tax within the amnesty period; d. that the Ministry of Finance provide the Cabinet with an update of the outcome of this amnesty on accrued interest as soon as the report becomes available; e. on the establishment of a working group to review the current legislation and make recommendations for relevant amendments to the provisions regarding accrued interest on property tax within one month; and noted that the financial secretary will work with the Inland Revenue Department to collaborate with the Department of Information and Public Relations to initiate a promotional campaign ensuring that Cabinet’s decision is widely circulated in an effort to inform all property owners.

4. Considered and approved the International Tax Authority (Administrative Penalties) Regulations 2022; instructed that the draft regulations be made before being published in the Gazette and thereafter forwarded to the HOA to be laid on the table at the next convenient sitting.

5. Retroactively approved the waiver of the tender process to procure security services to provide secured transport services of government funds (revenue) collected from various departments and transferred to the designated bank for the period Jan. 1 to April 30; and decided that: a. Top Priority Security Services be contractually engaged for a four-month period from Jan. 1 to April 30 to allow for the completion of the tender process; b. the government enter into an agreement with Top Priority for the sum of $100,000 for the four-month period; c. the 2021 Cabinet decision be amended to reflect the accurate sum of $290,095 paid to Top Priority Security Services; and d. the Ministry of Finance instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to vet the draft contract.

6. Decided: a. that the formal tender process be waived and a new engagement arrangement be entered into with Withers LLP for a period of three months with effect from March 1 to May 31 for legal advice and representation to the government in respect of the extension granted to the Commission of Inquiry in collaboration with the Attorney General, with payment not to exceed $1.2 million; and b. that funding in an amount not to exceed $1.2 million be approved via a Schedule of Additional Provision at the earliest sitting of the House of Assembly.

7. Noted the 2021 Royalty Report, which shows that a total of $16,661.89 had been received in 2021 as coin royalties from Pobjoy Mint Limited. 8. Approved one application for the lease of Crown land.

March 2

1. Decided that, subject to the approval of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the proposal for one coin each for the Platinum Jubilee of the Accession of the Queen Elizabeth II, and the 75th Anniversary of The Last Walking Liberty Half Dollar, be minted by Pobjoy Mint Ltd., in accordance with the five-year agreement between Pobjoy Mint Ltd. and the VI government.

2. Considered and approved the bill titled Stamp (Amendment) Act, 2022, which seeks to introduce certain economic stimulus measures in response to the effects of Covid-19, and: a. decided that the bill be introduced for its first reading in the HOA at the next convenient sitting; b. approved the Statutory Rates, Fees and Charges (Amendment of Schedule) Order, 2022 and decided that it be Gazetted; and c. approved and decided that the draft resolution required for amending Part 42 of the Schedule to the Statutory Rates, Fees and Charges Act be forwarded to the HOA for action via the Cabinet Office.

3. Approved that the tender process be waived to renew the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force’s agreement with DNA Labs International to provide DNA analysis for the RVIPF and: a. approved the renewal of the agreement with DNA Labs International for an initial period of one year with effect from Aug. 15, 2021, with a yearly option for renewal up to four years in the amount of $100,000 per year, b. decided that a new procurement process for DNA analysis services be carried out and completed prior to Aug. 15, 2022; and c. decided that the Office of the Deputy Governor instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to vet the contract.

4. Decided that: a. the Wickham’s Cay Development Authority Ordinance (Cap. 281) be amended to reflect an expanded scope for the Wickham’s Cay Development Authority, inclusive of a board of directors and a City Manager’s Office; b. the Wickham’s Cay Development Authority Ordinance’s provision to make regulations be broadened to include mechanisms for the management of the assets vested in the authority; c. the authority be reclassified as a corporate body with perpetual succession and a common seal capable of suing and being sued in the name of the Wickham’s Cay Development Authority and, subject to the provisions of the Wickham’s Cay Development Authority Ordinance, of performing such acts as corporate bodies may by law perform; d. the Wickham’s Cay Development Authority’s board of directors shall consist of: i. a chairman, appointed by the minister in council after prior approval for such appointment has been obtained by a resolution passed in the HOA; ii. not less than three, but not exceeding five, appointed members, who shall not be public officers shall be appointed by the minister in council, having taken into account the desirability of such interests as affected by the authority’s activities being represented; and iii. five ex officio members, who shall be the persons holding office for the time being as: 1. permanent secretary of the ministry responsible for the management of the territory’s infrastructural development, or if he or she is unable to attend any meeting of the authority, any other officer authorised by him or her to attend and vote on his or her behalf at that meeting; 2. permanent secretary of the ministry responsible for the management of the territory’s natural resources, or if he or she is unable to attend any meeting of the authority, any other officer authorised by him or her to attend and vote on his or her behalf at that meeting; 3. the chief planner of the Town and Country Planning Department, or if he or she is unable to attend any meeting of the authority, any other officer authorised by him or her to attend and vote on his or her behalf at that meeting; 4. the general manager of the authority, or if he or she is unable to attend any meeting of the authority, any other officer authorised by him or her to attend and vote on his or her behalf at that meeting; and 5. the city manager, or if he or she is unable to attend any meeting of the authority, any other officer authorised by him or her to attend and vote on his or her behalf at that meeting. e. appointed members must be made up of professionals possessing at least five years’ experience and a proven track record in one or more of the fields of financial management, property/estate management, environmental management, business administration, and law; f. that the Wickham’s Cay Development Authority shall pay to all or any of its appointed members such remuneration, fees, and allowances for expenses as may be approved by Cabinet; g. the scope of the Wickham’s Cay Development Authority under Clause 5 of the Ordinance be broadened; h. a business case with a strategic plan be developed for the corporate body to guide its financial planning towards being self-sustained by its fifth year of operations; and i. the Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to allow for the drafting of the amendments.

5. Approved a land exchange on Virgin Gorda between Christina Yates and the Crown.

6. Noted the Situation Report #44 presented by the Health Emergency Operations Centre – Unified Command and decided: a. to remove the limitations on the gathering sizes as noted in the Public Health (Covid-19 Control and Suppression Measures) (No.4) Amendment Order, 2022; b. that organisers and promoters of events anticipated or likely to attract more than 300 people shall notify the Environmental Health Division no fewer than five days prior to the event; c. that the quarantine period for unvaccinated people entering the territory shall be reduced to five days; and d. that the Ministry of Health and Social Development instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft the relevant amendments necessary to give immediate effect until March 31, 2022 to items (b) and (c) of the decision sought.

March 11

1. Noted the update provided by the Department of Disaster Management on the progress made toward Emergency Management Reaccreditation for the territory.

2. Reviewed and concurred with the resolution from the board of the Recovery and Development Agency to appoint Anthony McMaster as the RDA CEO in accordance with Section 13(1) of the VI Recovery and Development Act, 2018, with effect from Dec. 2, 2021, for a period not to exceed the lifespan of the agency.

3. Decided to grant a renewal of pioneer status to Eureka Medical Clinic Limited, in accordance with Section 3 of the Pioneer Services and Enterprises Ordinance (Cap. 297), First Schedule, Paragraph (a) (xxv), to engage in the service of “Major Health Clinic/Hospital/Health Spa Equipment” for a period of three years beginning on Feb. 1, 2022; and decided that the Premier’s Office instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft the necessary order to effect the same.

4. Considered and approved the bill titled International Tax Authority (Amendment) Act, 2022 and decided that it be introduced for its first reading in the HOA at the next convenient sitting.

5. Approved an application for permission to use the seabed for the installation of jetties of Trellis Bay, Beef Island for Aycayia Ventures Limited.

March 16

1. Decided: a. an appointed the following people to the VI Trade Commission Board as members, in accordance with Section (6)(1)(a) to (g) of the VI Trade Commission Act, 2020: i. Trade Commissioner, exofficio; ii. Michael Fay, legal practitioner, with effect from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2025; iii. Wendell Gaskin, a representative from the education/private business sector, with effect from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2025; iv. Melissa Farara, a representative from the social sector, with effect from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2024; v. Lavina Liburd, a representative from the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association, with effect from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2024; vi. Hakim Creque, with effect from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2024; vii. Sasha Hodge, with effect from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2025; b. that: i. Hakim Creque be appointed as the person from the sister islands in accordance with Section 6(2)(a) of the act; ii. Melissa Farara be appointed as the youth between the ages of 18 and 35 in accordance with Section 6(2)(b) of the Act; and accepted the minister’s recommendations to appoint Michael Fay as chairperson and Sasha Hodge as deputy chairperson in accordance with Section 6(3) of the act; and iii. the Premier’s Office instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft the Instruments of appointment for signature.

2. Decided to grant pioneer status to Karia Christopher Inc. in accordance with Section 3 of the Pioneer Services and Enterprises Ordinance (Cap. 297), First Schedule, Paragraph (a) (xvii), to engage in the service of “Filming, Film Processing, Television and Video Works” for a period of 10 years beginning on March 1, 2022; and decided that the Premier’s Office instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft the necessary order.

3. Decided to grant a renewal of pioneer status to Bougainvillea Clinic Limited, in accordance with Section 3 of the Pioneer Services and Enterprises Ordinance (Cap. 297), First Schedule, Paragraph (a) (xxix), to engage in the enterprise of “Major Health Clinic/Hospital/Health Spa Equipment” for a period of five years beginning on Feb. 1, 2022; and decided that the Premier’s Office instruct the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft the necessary order to effect the same.