Madam Speaker, after fully analyzing the nature, scope and contents of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the United Kingdom’s version of the same (referred to as “the UK FATCA”), I am pleased to announce that the Government of the Virgin Islands has decided that in concert with concluding negotiations leading to an Agreement with respect to the UK FATCA as a matter of priority we will pursue the finalization of the Model 1B Intergovernmental Agreement with the United States. We have been in active discussions with the United States Treasury on this matter for some time now and will continue to move ahead to bring this matter to resolution as soon as it is possible for us to do so.
Madam Speaker, as I communicated in a previous statement in this House, we had already made the decision to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the United States based on our own unique circumstances and after consultation with the industry in the British Virgin Islands. Subsequent to that, and following further consultations and our own careful analysis, we have positively concluded that the US Model 1B Intergovernmental Agreement is the most efficient model to pursue for the BVI and its industry as well.
Madam Speaker, the ability for the Government of the Virgin Islands to make this definitive statement is now possible based on the results of two studies which were commissioned and are now in our possession in respect to these two initiatives. I expect to present the results of these studies to this House in short order.
Madam Speaker, I would also like to mention that in keeping with our goal of keeping the financial services industry in the BVI vibrant and competitive, we recently convened a special retreat of industry and public sector experts to determine strategies for the future of the financial services industry here in the BVI.
Out of this Retreat came a number of significant recommendations. The Report is being finalized and I will lay it on the table of this House for Members’ information and consideration.
In this context, I propose to have established in this House a Standing Committee on Financial Services with appropriate terms of reference. I anticipate that this Standing Committee will be at the forefront of our charge forward in the continued development and growth of the financial services sector in the BVI. I am hoping that I will receive full nonpartisan support for this initiative, and that any report that emanates from this Select Committee will be presented to this House for positive and comprehensive debate as we seek to maintain and improve our position in this key sector of our economy.
Madam Speaker, the BVI will not waiver in its commitment to ensuring that its financial services industry is provided with an efficient regulatory and legal environment that facilitates legitimate business and adheres to established international standards. We are proud as a responsible member of the global financial centre circle and see value in cooperation and helping to stem the tide of criminality in order to ensure a secure global economy.
Finally Madam Speaker, I would like to report that representatives from the Ministry of Finance and the Financial Services commission travelled to the United Kingdom on the 24rd of March 2013, to attend a meeting between the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies of the United Kingdom, to discuss relevant issues in respect to the United Kingdoms’ pending presidency of the G8. These discussions centered around issues of interest to us and relate essentially to matters on the need to uphold international standards on tax transparency, beneficial ownership, and bribery and corruption. The discussions also centered on matters regarding the pending Intergovernmental Agreements between the United Kingdom and its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. The discussions have been reported to be cordial, incisive and informative in enabling the Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Territories to chart a common approach in our renewed efforts in strengthening cooperation with the United Kingdom and increasing the good reputation of our various jurisdictions. In particular, Madam Speaker, it should be noted that the BVI has a special relationship (both constitutional and otherwise) with Her Majesty’s Government and, by seeking to work together very closely, we strengthen that relationship and strengthen confidence in our business environment.
The BVI, Madam Speaker, will continue to pursue the highest levels of excellence in all matters concerning our financial services industry, to ensure that we provide high quality service to our clients around the world and here at home.
Thank you Madam Speaker.