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Sunday, Dec 10, 2023

Unconstitutional for gov’t to block Governor’s Office from using GIS

Unconstitutional for gov’t to block Governor’s Office from using GIS

Governor John Rankin has said he believes the Government Information Services (GIS) should facilitate the work of both the elected government and the sitting governor, without any hurdles.
The governor, who appeared before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) in a hearing yesterday, said there was a proposal and draft Cabinet paper created to effectively limit the communication services of his office.

The proposal, which came at the tail end of the former governor, Agustus Jaspert’s tenure, essentially espoused the view that it wasn’t the function of the information services arm of government to work with the governor. This was described as an old practice.

The move at the time left the governor’s office without access to the GIS and required the office to find other ways to publicise its own material.

“My understanding was A, that had not been the previous practice and B, it ignores the fact that the governor is part of government within the British Virgin Islands,” Governor Rankin said.

It was previously reported that under the proposed policy, communications from the Governor’s Office would need to be approved by the Premier’s Office before it could be disseminated.

But Governor Rankin said this position was neither practical nor in accordance with the constitution.

“The Premier has his responsibilities and I have my responsibilities, but I don’t think it would be the interest of good governance or consistent with the constitution, if any communication that I make required the approval of the Premier,” Governor Rankin said.

He added: “And obviously I would have been unhappy with any suggestion that any of my communications would be under a power of approval by the Premier or ministers.”

According to Governor Rankin, the government information services is there to serve government and he is a part of the government of the Virgin Islands under the constitution.

“I look to Government Information Services to assist me when I’m giving out messaging, for example in relation to preparation for hurricane season, in relation to the need for people to get vaccinated or any other matter of which I may wish to make an appropriate announcement. So, I think Government Information Services are there to serve the governor as they’re there to serve the elected government,” Governor Rankin stated.

In the meantime, the governor said he was happy to report that a practical way was found through that difficulty.

“I, for the most part, am content with the working as it stands with Government Information Services,” the governor said.

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