Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. D. Orlando Smith said that the Virgin Islands is aware of its responsibilities within the partnership set out in the new White Paper, which was recently released by the United Kingdom Government.
The Premier said that he is indeed pleased that a new White Paper has been developed to speak to the relationship between the British Government and its Overseas Territories. The Overseas Territories White Paper, entitled 'The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability' was released on June 28.
In a statement to the House of Assembly, Premier Smith noted that as a major nation of the world, the United Kingdom has had special relationships with many territories, large and small, most of which have over many years progressed to independence and are now nations in their own right, contributing to global commerce.
He said that many continue to have a relationship within the British Commonwealth, noting that there are others such as the BVI, which have retained that special relationship and are today known as Overseas Territories, and for whom that relationship continues to be important.
"This relationship continues to evolve as the 14 territories seek more and more self-government within that framework. Public statements have been made from time to time about the evolution of that relationship such as are contained in the recently released White Paper," Premier Smith stated.
He added that the White paper developed and published prior to the 2012 one, recognised the aspirations of the people of the territories in that regard and set out a partnership between the United Kingdom and the territories that spoke to that.
Premier Smith said that it was within that context that the Territory was able to negotiate a modern new constitution for the British Virgin Islands.
"In this spirit, I welcome the new white paper and look forward to the continuing maturity of the BVI both economically and in its relationship with the United Kingdom. As a Government, we are determined to carry out our responsibility to the people of the Territory in a transparent and accountable manner. Madam Speaker, we expect the relationship promulgated in this New White Paper to assist us in doing so, so that this Territory continues to grow....While we are aware of our responsibilities within this Partnership, we also expect that during this redefined relationship that the gains that we have made politically and constitutionally as a Territory over the past decades will continue to be improved upon," Premier Smith stated.
The UK´s Foreign Secretary, William Hague said that the new White Paper is the first review of the Overseas Territories since 1999 and it demonstrates the importance the Coalition Government attaches to the Overseas Territories.
"We appreciate the remarkable diversity of the Territories, each with their own specific attributes, opportunities and challenges. This White Paper is designed to meet these challenges, to set out ways we can support the Territories and strengthen our engagement with them. It is another major milestone in our long and shared history, and I hope it will mark a new era of engagement between Britain and the Overseas Territories," Foreign Secretary Hague stated.
According to the UK, the White Paper focuses on three goals, and explains the practical steps that will be taken to achieve them: strengthening engagement between the UK and the Territories; working with the Territories to strengthen good governance, public financial management and economic planning where this is necessary; and improving the quality and range of support available to the Territories.
The White Paper includes sections on the work of all UK Government Departments, who have published their own Papers on how they engage with the Territories. Links to Departmental papers are included in the White Paper.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) conducted a public consultation on the Overseas Territories strategy from September 2011 to January 2012.
The results were published in March 2012 and can be found on the FCO website at http://ukoverseasterritories.readandcomment.com
The new White Paper can be accessed online at http://www.fco.gov.uk/overseas-territories/white-paper