The Minister for the Americas, the Caribbean, and United Kingdom (UK) Overseas Territories (OTs), David Rutley MP has issued a stern warning to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) Government, stating that the UK will not hesitate to take further action if the implementation of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) Recommendations continue to lag.

The OTs minister landed in Road Town on Sunday, commencing a crucial visit to engage with Premier Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley and the Government of the Virgin Islands. The primary focus of Rutley’s visit is to receive an update on the progress of the COI reforms to understand the challenges firsthand and explore ways to expedite the delivery of the reforms.

In a statement ahead of his arrival, Minister Rutley emphasized the importance of the Overseas Territories to the UK family and reiterated the UK Government’s commitment to the security, prosperity, and well-being of the people of the British Virgin Islands. He expressed a desire to witness a successful, thriving, and well-governed BVI and pledged continuous support for the governor and the people in achieving that goal.

However, Rutley expressed concerns about the slow implementation of recommendations from the COI into governance issues.  He stressed the urgency of reforms, stating, “The Commission of Inquiry has identified serious governance and reputational issues, but progress on implementing its recommendations has been too slow, with agreed deadlines missed.”

Rutley assured that the UK stands ready to provide further technical assistance if necessary. However, he also emphasized that if progress remains lacking, the UK Government will not hesitate to take further action to ensure the much-needed reforms are implemented.

“If there continues to be a lack of progress, we will not hesitate to take further action to help deliver the much-needed reforms,” Rutley stated.

His Excellency Governor Daniel Pruce acknowledged the critical timing of the Minister’s visit and highlighted its significance in signalling the UK’s interest and commitment to the success of the BVI.

The new Governor Pruce stressed that implementing the COI recommendations is essential for positive changes, including better access to services, a fairer society with opportunities for all, and a more accountable and transparent government.

Rutley’s visit to the territory is on the heels of the request of former Governor John Rankin who in his last Quarterly Review Report made a bid to the United Kingdom Government for the position of governor to be granted expanded powers.