Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn disclosed that he fears that the recent hurricanes might have some negative effects on the financial services sector that the Territory depends so heavily on.
While speaking in the House of Assembly on 7 December Hon. Walwyn noted the destruction Irma caused to both pillars of the BVI economy, but specifically emphasized the impact on financial services. He said: “A number of our companies as you know are operating overseas and we are trying our best to get the infrastructure back in place so that trust companies and so on can return to the Territory and that the employment and so on that we have grown accustomed to and the standard of living that our people have grown accustomed to can continue.”
“I am praying and I hope all of us are doing this that our financial services intake isn’t too severely affected Madame Speaker,” the Minister announced in the House of Assembly. Hon. Walwyn in lamenting the fragile nature of the financial services sector went on to praise the Limited Partnership Act that was debated in the House and noted that it creates another path for financial services and he commended Premier Smith for bringing the Bill.
“This is the type of legislation that we need to bring to bear at this very critical time Madame Speaker. If we are going to hold on to our economy, if we are going to try to continue to provide the services that we provide to the public and of course look for new ways to create employment and to add value as it were to our tourism product,” the Minister announced.
He further noted that although BVI incorporations do well the system is subject to outside pressure and he said that it can’t be seen that the BVI has a vulnerable product. Therefore, Hon. Walwyn said that the Limited Partnership Act provides for services that will complement the Territory’s current offering.
At the 13 November sitting BVI Premier Dr, The Hon. D. Orland Smith noted that “In late October BVI Finance conducted a survey of all the firms in the financial services industry and this highlighted that 73% of employees were now back on island and working. The vast majority of the remaining 27% are hoping to be back and working in BVI by January, 2018. However this is heavily dependent on the quality of the housing stock. The Interim Executive Director of BVI Finance, Lorna Smith, recently visited the Cayman Islands and talked to many representatives of industry firms based there temporarily. She was also able to personally thank the Cayman Islands Government for their support of the Virgin Islands.”