Statement
3 December 2019 - 11:47am

REMARKS BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE,
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
DURING THE BVI DIGITAL ECONOMY SYMPOSIUM

TUESDAY, 3RD DECEMBER, 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning and God’s Blessings.

I greet you with excitement and with a green BVILOVE for one reason: BVI is on the move, and ain’t no stopping us now!

Today is the continuation of what was started just last week.

We held a Business Solutions Forum that brought business stakeholders from various sectors of the economy and key Government agencies together in the same room to find solutions and resolutions. We were setting the stage for today and the future—to create a new Golden Age for the BVI hinged on greening the BVI agenda.

I must say what a fruitful, healthy, candid, and rewarding discussion it was as we spoke about ways to make the BVI a sustainable, top-performing economy that will provide our people with resilience in every aspect of the word.

So, today is part two to the Business Solutions Forum, but in the form of a symposium. Today is about investing in the BVI through technology, innovation and development.

Today brings together many stakeholders from the public sector, private sector, banking, financial services commission, communication, legal, and compliance, to name a few, under the theme: “BVI Digital Economy - a new driver for development.”

What this essentially means is that technology as a development driver encompasses all the systems and procedures required for getting the job done. It is not limited to equipment and digitalised processes.

As a Government, we are committed to supporting areas like asset recovery, Islamic Finance, and family offices and positioning BVI at the forefront of FinTech with cryptocurrency, Initial Coin Offerings, and blockchain all potential areas for development. I call this “Backing the Future”.

It is important for me to let you know that BVI has been tapped with a number of proposals that could potentially position the BVI as a Financial Technology hub. FinTech is currently disrupting sectors with services such as mobile payments, money transfers, fundraising, and KYC compliance. This is the new emerging technology that helps consumers or financial institutions deliver services in newer, faster ways than traditionally available.

We also have blockchain technology that looks at our digital currency, which offers significant benefits it offers the BVI, which are paramount to the Territory. We welcome this innovative technological advancement with open arms.

It was just a few weeks ago I delivered the 2020 Budget which speaks to Transformation for Resilience and Sustainability: SMART strategies, Empowered People, and Green Development, I said that we have been able to identify clear sectors for development in the area of SMART technology.

SMART technology is an expansive area with increasing applications that not only encompasses energy saving but includes data collection and analysis to drive informed, effective decision making. As this approach becomes more widely embraced, it will create opportunities for Information, Communication, and Technology businesses and employment opportunities for trained professionals.

The move to digitisation is happening globally, and BVI has an opportunity to create an economic driver to stimulate its economy.

I must say that this new wave has made a big impact on economies and impacts all sectors, including governments, marine, real estate, banking, agriculture, and general commerce.

As a Government, we are focused on achieving and increasing our competitiveness in the global tourism market, strengthening our financial services industry, and developing new economic engines.

We are inviting persons to invest in our tourism sector – such as in the development of hotels and resorts, airlift, cruise and the provision of services, and we are also seeking partnerships in developing an ecosystem that supports innovation and the growth of entrepreneurship.

We are searching for opportunities to support us by being our anchors, around which other economic activity can spawn, such as the supply of goods and services, the creation of meaningful, sustainable jobs, and avenues for exporting our offerings to outside markets.

We want to create a campus for technology and innovation, where locals and visitors can learn new skills, conduct research, nurture their creativity to develop products and services, and launch businesses.

Our commitment to creating this ecosystem also includes reforming the legislative and bureaucratic framework to make it easier to start up new businesses and to grow existing ones, as well as devising mechanisms to fund entrepreneurial activities.

Technology and innovation are keys to the continued success of the BVI.

Cabinet looks forward to approving the Territory’s first National Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan. The ICT Plan has set the following vision for the Territory: Agile BVI - Connected, Resilient, Smart. This Plan, when implemented, will allow the Territory to leverage ICT to foster innovation, diversify the economy and expedite the Territory’s transformation into a digital economy.

In embracing the vision for the development of the Territory and the role of technology, we understand the challenges our citizens and business community face with the reliability of Internet service. We agree that it must be overcome, even if it means inviting new players into our market to improve broadband speeds for customers and lower prices.

Overall, we believe in partnership and cooperation and in creating win-win-win solutions. Our philosophy is BVILOVE, where people are welcome to live, visit, work, and invest.

BVILOVE is about creating a Green BVI where all residents love living in the Green BVI. Employees and employers love working in the Green BVI. Family and friends love visiting the Green BVI. And, local and foreign investors love investing in the Green BVI.

Indeed the BVI is on the move. As a Government and as a Territory, we are collectively working towards becoming a leading economy through entrepreneurship, innovation, local and foreign investment by 2025.

The slumbering giant is now wide awake. The elephant is out of the room. And, in this place, there is only room for BVILOVE.

Thank you.

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