19 May 2011

Inter Virgin Islands Council Convenes to Discuss inter-territorial cooperation


 First Meeting of the Council since 2006

Virgin Islands Government Press Release
Virgin Islands London Office

Thursday’s meeting marked the first time Premier O’Neal and Governor de Jongh met in this forum. It created an open dialogue for both leaders and their senior government officials to share concerns and gain common ground in key areas confronting both territories including law enforcement, disaster preparedness, tourism, pleasure boating and sports fishing, cooperation on inter-island transportation of cargo and the commissioning of the new incinerator at Pockwood Pond.

Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE and United States Virgin Islands (USVI) Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. both dubbed the Fourth Meeting of the Inter-Virgin Islands Council (IVIC) held yesterday a cooperative and collaborative success.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Premier O’Neal explained the relationship and ongoing dialogue between the territories signalled the unity of both governments and its people.

“I am pleased to welcome the USVI delegation, our good neighbours, and to have this important dialogue on issues that would make these two Virgin Islands a better place for all of us to enjoy,” he said. “With our cooperative willingness to work together, we can achieve much more.”

Governor de Jongh said the forum provides a tremendous opportunity for both counterparts to jointly determine the shared experiences, interests, challenges and commonalities of both territories and its people.

He said, “We are charged with building an economy that gives hope to our young people, comfort to our seniors, while providing tremendous opportunities that grow our two economies.”

Governor de Jongh added that creating unified strategic partnerships to attract larger communities is crucial for ensuring quality of life for all people in both territories.

In a brief closing ceremony, Premier O’Neal and Governor de Jongh signed a Memorandum of Understanding for fingerprinting and ballistic to strengthen cooperation in the area of law enforcement. Now both territories can engage in further intelligence sharing and monitoring of firearms trafficking.

Officials from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and the Virgin Islands Police Department said the relationships between both counterparts are “close” and “unshakeable”.

In closing Premier O’Neal said, “Today we have achieved something.” He added that reports from both sides have led to pledged cooperation and good friendship. “We have to make the Council work” so that people benefit from the collaborative decisions made, the Premier said. “He [Governor de Jongh] will push from his side, and I will push from mine.”

Both leaders shared that pooling resources, leveraging federal partnerships and formalising relations are important components for continued dialogue.

(Virgin Islands) Government’s delegation included officers from the Premier’s Office, Deputy Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Chambers, Ministry of Health and Social Development, Solid Waste Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Conservation and Fisheries Department, BVI Tourist Board, Immigration Department, Her Majesty’s Customs, Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, BVI Ports Authority and Department of Disaster Preparedness.

The USVI delegation included representatives from the Office of the Governor, Department of Justice, Virgin Islands Police Department, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, VI Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), Department of Tourism.

The Inter-Virgin Islands Council was established following the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Virgin Islands and United States Virgin Islands in May 2004. The IVIC sets forth the framework for consultation and collective agreement between the territories. The fifth meeting is scheduled for May 2012 in the USVI.

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