Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced that government will be reconsidering the residency and belongership policies in order to better promote unity in the Territory.
The BVI Leader made the announcement while speaking in the House of Assembly on 14 December. Hon. Smith disclosed that the revision was necessary and was influenced by post hurricane Irma observation.
In a statement that spoke directly to longtime residents the BVI Leader said: “Many of you both here in the BVI and temporarily in other parts of the world, have made significant contributions to the development of the BVI. You are part of the BVI family and we are very grateful for your contributions. We recognize that there are deficiencies in our policies related to residency and belongership.”
As it relates to the policies Hon. Smith announced that efforts to amend have already begun: “This is an issue my Government began to review before hurricane Irma and was prepared to advance by year end. However, the disruption of the hurricane has changed our focus temporarily. At the same time, it has increased the need to bring complete resolution to this issue.”
“Madame Speaker, my government will therefore be proposing changes to our residency and belongership policies in the first quarter of 2018 to address many long-standing and newly emerging issues in this area. We will consult with the public on this very important matter,” the Premier mentioned.
The BVI Leader further reminded that opportunity sometimes comes disguised as adversity and admonished all in the Territory to seize this opportunity to build a new BVI. “A BVI where we all work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and open communication. Let us work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect to blending over 100 cultures into one BVI,” he added.