Former public servant and financial services expert Ray George said that he does not think that the government should sign the Loan Guarantee that was offered by the United Kingdom government and instead pursue suggested revenue infusing opportunities and self-fund the Territory’s recovery and development.
George aired his views at a press conference on 13 September and made rounds on various talk shows to express his opinion about the loan guarantee and the effects it could have on the Territory if it is maxed out.
Among the concerns George raised was whether the loan amount was at a fixed rate. In making this point he said: “The loan was in pounds, it was 300M pounds at the time that would have put us about $405M; that would have been the guarantee at the time had we taken it at that particular rate. As of last week 12 September, it would have been $369M total. As a matter of fact, the pound is at an all time low.”
George mentioned that the uncertainty with BREXIT makes the stability and rate of the pounds difficult to forecast. In fact, George noted that if the BVI did not have a fixed rate agreement the unpredictability of the pound might be an issue.
“We don’t expect it (pound) to go any higher if there’s a hard BREXIT. What shoud have happened, and what we would hope happened for our sake — we should have locked into a rate at that particular time. Irrespective of whether we are going to take it or not. There had to be some sort of agreement that said look this is the guarantee now, let’s lock into this rate or agree on some future rate,” the concerned citizen stated.
In noting why, the situation worries him, George announced: “I am very concerned about that situation and how that rate is going to work out.” He also questioned how the loans provided for by the guarantee were going to be accessed. “I don’t suspect we’ll take the loan in a bulk amount so it has to be tranches. What are the sizes of the tranches? What are we going to do first, second, third ….What are the priorities? What projects were identified and so on?”
“The loan, what sort of rate are we looking at in terms of interest rates and duration of the loan. Is it going to be a ten year loan or five…because the plan says it is going to be for seven to ten year plan; although in contradiction they say the RDA is going to be here for five years – subject to the blessing of the House of Assembly that could be extended. Looking at the situation RDA is going to be here for longer than five years because if the plan is seven to ten years,” he further questioned.
He further questioned what will happen if looming issues such as beneficial ownership public register, and economic substance requirements cause revenues to fall in the Territory.”
After advising that the government should not accept the Loan Guarantee George listed a number of areas that he said can be explored to diversify the BVI economy. He said that some of his suggestions have the potential to help to supplement the fallout that is expected from financial services and also introduce new revenue that can go towards recovery and development. Further he noted that some of the suggestions can be implemented in months and reap reward soon.
Suggestions included that the Territory should consider: Registration Of Directors For Mutual Funds, Registration Of Personal Directors For BVI BC, Offshore Banking, FINTECH, Block Chain Technology, Crypto Currency, Royalties Market, Review Application Fees For All Types Of Licences, Review Annual Fees For Regulated Business, Increase The Fees For Company Searches, Increase The Fees For Apostilles, And Aircraft Registration among others.