Virgin Islands Family, question for you: “What do you envision our beloved Virgin Islands will look like in 2040?” I will be in my 60’s and I most definitely want to see a healthier population that owns the economy. I want to see an education system that empowers and equips our children’s children to pursue careers anywhere in the world. I want to see us safeguard our history and heritage through preservation of cultural sites, a national museum, a national archive, and Virgin Islands history being taught from pre-school to college. We should also be in a position to contemplate our next move as it relates to self-governance AFTER a foundation has been laid over the next decade and a half. Many of us contemplated running away from home when we were six years old because our parents wouldn’t let us have our own way, but it wasn’t feasible. Then we grew up and learnt how to become responsible for ourselves and moved out. That’s life – everything must go through a process.
So, let’s have a discussion over the next month about the national plan for sustainable development that will guide us for the next 15 years. What does that mean? Simply put, we are making decisions today that will leave the place better off than we met it for the next generation. The country should be GROWING from strength to strength because there is a future vision that unites us and sets PRIORITIES to focus our development activities and resources.
I haven’t read the draft plan in its entirety yet but kudos to the team on what they have compiled so far. But I must say I was disappointed to see the list of consultations didn’t include non-governmental organisations (NGO) like Scouts, Guides, FSN, WINBVI, Zonta Club, Interact, Rotaract, YEP, Association of Reef Keepers, Marine Association, Teacher’s Union, Medical Association, Civil Service Association, BVI Christian Council, churches, media, artist associations, and taxi associations to mention a few. Other suggestions on people who need to weigh on this plan are port agencies, Commercial Court, Arbitration Centre, Customs, Immigration, National Parks Trust, Tourist Board, Recreation Trust, BVI Health Services Authority, Financial Services Commission, the youth parliamentarians and retired senior public officers. Nation building is everybody and every body’s business and we must not leave it to the politicians and public service alone. PARTICIPATION by the civil society (people) is part and parcel of good governance as the Commission of Inquiry has taught us.
Despite the “planning fatigue” we all feel from plans that have come and gone by the wayside, this is an opportunity of a lifetime to have a say in the Virgin Islands we all want for our grandchildren’s children to live and THRIVE in. I encourage every Virgin Islander to read the draft development plan, attend the public consultations or email your contribution to email@example.com to make sure this is truly the PEOPLE’s plan! I suggest starting with Chapter 2 to get a snapshot of the national goals and work your way around from there. I also would like to suggest to the planning team that a webpage on the Government’s website and a Facebook page should be created for something as paramount as this to centralise communications on the plan, allow submissions and have continuing dialogue about the plan from this point straight through to implementation and monitoring. For example: every week a national goal is discussed to further educate the public on what they are in simple enough language for a 10-year-old to understand. It is their future we are planning.
Virgin Islands Family, we are building a nation and it is all hands-on deck situation so let your voices be heard loud and clear because I want to see us build a country we will be proud to call home. That is not to say we wouldn’t have problems along the way but with a plan and belief that greater is possible, we will succeed.