Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The Territory's leader has made it clear that his Government is committed to enhancing its relationship with the United Kingdom (UK) and welcomes further partnership as proposed by the new White Paper.
In his written message to the recently held BVI Art and Culture Show and Territory Day Reception in London, Premier Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith said the relationship with the UK continues to evolve and they welcome Her Majesty's Government's publication of its White Paper on the Overseas Territories on June 28.
"My Government is fully aware of our obligations as a Territory and we stand ready to meet our responsibilities under the new partnership. On a whole, the BVI has made significant progress as a society since 1956. Today our people enjoy a higher quality of life than our forefathers could have imagined and the Territory is a globally recognised elite tourism destination and world class international financial centre. While modernisation has brought social and economic change, many aspects of our traditional culture remain strong, such as art," he stated in his message.
The Premier's message was read by Director of BVI London Office, Kedrick Malone.
Also speaking at the event was Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr. Lindsay Hoyle, MP. The Government Information Service (GIS) quoted Hoyle, who was the keynote speaker, stating, "It is time for a grown up relationship between the United Kingdom and British Virgin Islands. The Overseas Territories should determine their own future and not have it imposed by Britain."
Meanwhile, at a recent sitting of the House of Assembly, Premier Smith in a statement on the new White Paper stated 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.
He stated 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 many continue to have a relationship within the British Commonwealth.
The Premier told the House of Assembly that there are others such as the BVI, much smaller, which have retained that special relationship and are today known as Overseas Territories and for whom that relationship continues to be important.
Premier Smith said the relationship continues to evolve as the 14 territories seek more and more self-government within that framework. He said 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.
"The White paper developed and published prior to this 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. And indeed it was within that context that we were 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," Premier Smith stated.
Further, Premier Smith said as a Government, they are determined to carry out their responsibilities 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."
The Premier added, "Finally, Madam Speaker, 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."