As the campaigning continues the issue of the European Union’s (EU) economic substance move which call for the near impossible task of the thousands of BVI registered international companies to set up headquarters and commence operations here in the Territory within a short time. However, the Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP) is bringing hope to the situation as he stressed during a campaign rally when he urged residents to look at the glass half full.
Hon. Walwyn who is seeking reelection as a Territorial At-Large candidate referenced the worrying situation during the launch of the NDP’s At-Large candidates on 19 January by reiterating the position he held during the debate on the matter in the House of Assembly last year.
He told the gathering: “The EU requirement for economic substance presents an opportunity on which we must capitalize, but for the people of this Territory, it gives us the perfect occasion to implement the recommendations from the McKinsey Report of 2014 as it relates to adding value to our offerings.”
In announcing that the situation might not necessarily result in a doom and gloom situation the NDP Chairman declared: “Let us be more positive therefore. Let us see the glass as half full rather than half empty. I challenge you tonight to adopt a new thinking, a new mindset which is not beyond us. Then watch our lives change for the better.”
“We are not powerless and helpless as so many would like to believe. We can turn to our history as a people and our history in these islands for inner strength to find the power, the determination and the will to do what we must,” he added.
The At-Large candidate admitted that things are not rosy with the financial services sector but he said that this is not because of lack of local action: “We are having some challenges with our financial services sector, brought on by an ever changing goal post in the international community…This new EU measure can have some negative effects in the short term, but if handled well can provide a more resilient financial services sector for the Territory in the long term.”
Hon. Walwyn therefore outlined suggestions that would minimize the effect of the economic substance situation. Among these mentions were plans for the creation of an economic zone: “One of the things that we can do is develop facilities like a special economic zone for knowledge based industries, which will receive priority.”
He said that the objective is to develop the BVI into an innovative entrepreneurial technology hub, benefiting from what he described as a tax exempted environment. However, Hon. Walwyn explained that this plan will require government to be fit for purpose. “This will require government to be a facilitator and not a frustrator for entrepreneurial activity.”
“A special economic zone is a natural byproduct of our international business operations. We can attract companies from across the globe in a variety of industries such as the internet and technology sector, marketing and film, media and the like, to establish their businesses right here in Territory,” Hon. Walwyn explained.
The NDP Chairman said that training would be an essential part of this plan in order to ensure that all residents have a stake. “As part of our human resource development strategy, which is a major plank of the new NDPs platform, we will ensure that our people are trained and assisted in any way needed so that they, like everyone, can benefit from opportunities that a special economic zone can present.