Opposition Leader Honourable Julian Fraser says although he supports the government’s plans to transform the Water and Sewerage Department into a statutory body, there are areas of concern with this process that he simply cannot, in good conscience, cast a blind eye to.
One of which, is the intended structure of the governing board for the entity.
Speaking during the debate process in the House of Assembly, he said, “First thing I did, was to look at the constitution members committee operation procedure and meeting of the authority… He said the authority shall consist of 9 members to be designated as board members appointed by the cabinet from amongst persons qualified by reason of having had experience of and shown capacity in matters relating to trade, law, finance, science, administration or labour relations.”
“I want a minister to explain to me and the rest of this house how is experience in law… going to get my people water 24 hours a day in my district? For that matter how does an individual with experience in finance stop the leaks that persist throughout that territory”, he said.
Driving his point further, Fraser called for the board to be constructed with its purpose in mind, and therefore consist of individuals with experience in fields specific to the issues of the territory’s water and sewerage systems.
He said, “We need on this board people who have experience in the problems we have faced with the water and sewerage department. Sewerage issues that we’re having need some people with experience.”
And while he is calling for the individuals to be experienced in very specific areas, Fraser maintains that the board should consist of Virgin Islanders.
“I don’t want somebody from a different country with those experiences on the board. I want somebody from right here who knows the system and knows what the problems are and knows why they’re not being fixed and need to be fixed… to be on this board,” Fraser stressed.
Fraser also argued that he did not want to see the new board get buried in the existing culture of the department, and urged the implementation of a rigid structure and timeline to guide its operation.
“This board needs a schedule to work from madam speaker, they need a 6-month lead before they take over the department madam speaker… and present to this government a schedule of their operations that when they take office, when they take up the department, they hit the ground running”, Fraser added.