Monday, September 28 – His Excellency the Governor David Pearey encouraged the residents of the Territory to take part in the Boundaries exercise in an address made to the Territory last week as Government moves ahead with plans to increase the number of elected officials.

“I strongly encourage all members of the public to make their views known by engaging with Commissioner Joseph at one of her many public meetings or in some other way during the four weeks she will be with us.  Everyone should have a voice in the matter and I trust that, given the extensive nature of the consultation phase, everyone will feel that they have,” the Governor said.

The Governor explained in his address that the, “Virgin Islands Constitution Order of 2007, Section 63(2), makes full provision for the establishment of a Boundaries Commission and for the passing of a law, supported by two thirds of the elected members of the House of Assembly (HOA), increasing the number of elected members of the House.”

He further explained, “At the request of the elected Government of the day it is this process which is about to commence.  It is for the HOA to determine whether the new members, if agreed, be at large or district members.”  He noted however, “If the law mandates an increase in the number of elected districts then a Boundaries Commissioner must be appointed to determine the extent of the new districts.”

Premier Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE, updated members of the HOA on the commencement of a Constituency Boundaries Commission at the 10th sitting of the second session of the First House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands where he said, “It is the policy of this Government to bring about an increase in the number of elected members in the HOA from 13 to 15 and that the additional two members should come from an increase in the number of electoral districts from nine to eleven.”

The Premier also announced that Cabinet has approved the appointment of the Boundaries Commissioner in the person of Miss Monica Joseph, a retired High Court Justice.  

Miss Joseph carried out the last boundaries exercise in 1998 when she was commissioned to redefine the boundaries of the nine electoral districts based on the Constitutionals Commission’s recommendations of 1993.

The Constituency Boundaries Commission will be executed in a two-phase process.  The first phase which begins on October 13 involves a Territory-wide public consultation exercise to obtain the views of the electorate in every district on the proposal to increase the size of the House of Assembly.

A report will be compiled based on the feedback the commissioner receives from the district meetings for the Governor who will then present it to Cabinet for consideration.  

The Deputy Governor’s Office has begun an education campaign to inform the public of the functions of the Constituency Boundaries Commission beginning with the Governor’s address to the Territory.  The Supervisor of Elections Ms. Juliette Penn will appear on ZBVI’s Speak out BVI on October 6 at 8:00 p.m. to continue the education process.  Radio, newspaper and online ads will begin this week and posters will be distributed and posted throughout the Territory with the schedule of district meetings.

The appointment of the Boundaries Commission demonstrates Government’s commitment to building the Territory’s democratic institutions and processes.