Statement By Premier Wheatley – One-On-One Press Conference October 28, 2022

Good morning to the people of the Virgin Islands and members of the media.

I am proud to sit here wearing pink in recognition of breast cancer awareness month.  We remember those we have lost to the scourge of cancer; we celebrate the tenacity of spirit of the survivors; and we urge all concerned to examine your breasts regularly, so you can be aware of any significant changes and to get annual mammograms to ensure that your breasts are safe and healthy.

I also want to recognise Domestic Violence Awareness month, which we wore purple in recognition of last Friday.  I am concerned that domestic violence cases are reportedly up, but I am happy that persons are breaking the silence and reporting these cases.  I call on all persons to resolve differences peacefully and responsibly.

We also recognse those who have worked hard to bring awareness to the condition known as Spina Bifida.  I am grateful for the knowledge of how persons right here in the BVI are impacted by this condition and how we can support them.

Again, I congratulate the Rt Honourable Rishi Sunak on being appointed UK Prime Minister.  We look forward to engaging with the Prime Minister’s new administration on developing a truly modern partnership.  Earlier this week, we learned that the right Honourable Jesse Norman was appointed Minister in the Ministry of Transport.  We look forward to the announcement of the new Overseas Territories Minister.  Unfortunately, the Joint Ministerial Council, scheduled to take place in just over a week has been postponed.  We look forward to a date in the near future where we can engage with the new Minister and the FCDO along with our OT colleagues.

I am grateful for the support of the leaders of the OECS who have stood by the Virgin Islands as we go through this period of reform while defending our democratic rights.  It is important to have our regional counterparts hold all parties accountable to our obligations under the UN, including article 73.  It was an honour to give my maiden address at the 72nd Meeting of the OECS Authority, and we are grateful to Premier Joseph Farrell and the Government of Monserratt for their warm hospitality.

On the local front, I would like to update the public on a very important cabinet decision, which established what is now known as the RATED Programme.

This programme was formulated to provide services to Belongers in our community who are unemployed and underemployed.  Rated is an acronym which stands for Registration, Apprenticeship, Training, Employment, and Development.  The concept is providing individuals with training and apprenticeship opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills to become more marketable in the workplace.  It also provides temporary employment opportunities in the public sector for activities like farming and beautification.  This group will also be provided with opportunities for self-development through life skills courses and access to motivational speakers.  You will learn more about the RATED Programme in the coming days and weeks.

This week I also met with the UK agency responsible for investigating Marine Accidents.  We would all be aware of the boating accident recently that claimed the lives of a young woman and a 6-year-old girl.  I look forward to the report from this agency and the lessons that we can learn from this accident to improve safety on the water.  We continue to pray for the families of the deceased.

Finally, I reiterate calls to the community to support our law enforcement agencies in bringing to justice the individuals responsible for the horrific murder last week.  WE continue to pray for the families affected, and we call on the community to unite in condemnation of this reckless act of violence.

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