Remarks by Premier and Minister of Finance
Honourable Andrew A. Fahie
Launch of the Virgin Islands Trade Commission
23rd February, 2021
A Pleasant Good Day and God’s Blessings to all the people of these beautiful Virgin Islands and beyond.
Today marks the Dawn of a New Day in the Virgin Islands as we continue to chart our way forward towards realising a long awaited vision. A VISION FOR PROSPERITY – For the Virgin Islands to be developed as a “SMART Economy” that is resilient and sustainable.
Your Government’s Vision is to transform the Virgin Islands into a leading economy through entrepreneurship, innovation and local and foreign investment.
When we do this, we create a thriving, vibrant, diversified and innovative, knowledge-based economy, with an attractive business environment that ensures full employment and full participation in global trade; of course, with BVILOVE.
Trade is not an end in itself, but a means to our economic growth and national development.
Therefore, your Government has embraced the concept of sustainable development, an end for which the global community and the entire Caribbean region is striving.
When I speak of sustainability in the development of the BVI, it means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
As such, we focus on the Territory’s development through three main pillars: the social pillar, the environmental pillar, and the economic pillar.
By considering these three pillars, we focus on the values and the needs of our people and our planet, while ensuring economic benefits (profits) for our Territory.
Nothing we do is in isolation, of the other, but is strategically connected to ensure that our development in the present leaves a positive impact for generations to come.
Your Government’s Legislative Agenda speaks of empowering the people of the Virgin Islands through a stronger economy, better healthcare, improved social services, good governance, a world class education system, investment in youth development, the sustenance of natural resources and improvements in communication systems and infrastructure.
We are working towards our vision by creating the Institutional Framework required by:
- Developing the National Trade Policy of the Virgin Islands in order to create the appropriate legislative framework for trade and economic development, and
- Establishing the Virgin Islands Trade Commission to function as a One-Stop-Shop that will operate as an effective facilitator and monitor of all matters relating to trade, business, investment and fair trade, which includes, consumer affairs and fair competition.
Thus far, your Government has been able to bring to the House of Assembly and to have passed by the Members of the House of Assembly, a number of legislative instruments including the Virgin Islands Trade Commission Act, 2020 and the Consumer Protection Act, 2020 to be enacted during disasters and pandemics such as COVID-19 alike.
We have also introduced two additional Bills for their First Reading: the Business Licensing Act and the Virgin Islands Investment Act.
These are just a few of what we have in store, as there are proposed 49-plus legislative instruments that will seek to establish the legislative framework required for creating an attractive environment that will ensure the ease of doing business here in the Territory of the Virgin Islands. But, mainly also to put the people of the Virgin Islands first.
Additionally, to ensure the effective implementation and functionality of these legislative instruments, we have established, and I am pleased to announce, the launch of the Virgin Islands Trade Commission.
I must congratulate all those persons in the Premier’s Office, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this initiative comes to fruition, I also thank all the efforts of members of the past administrations for some of the initiatives that were brought forward for us to get to this point. And for the members of my current Government for working on new initiatives to add to some of them and to make sure that we move this Territory into a new paradigm.
But this Virgin Islands Trade Commission is a Statutory Body, governed by a Board, which will be responsible for all activities related to trade and economic development.
It is expected that the overall restructuring and transition of the Virgin Islands Trade Commission into a fully function statutory body will take a period of between three to five years. Because in addition, remember, we still have plenty more legislations to be passed through the House of Assembly.
During such time, all of the activities of the functional areas will be coordinated in an effort to ensure the ease of doing business in the Territory of the Virgin Islands, thereby creating an attractive business climate/environment that encourages investment and MSME development.
All of this would be achievable by focusing on our sustainable development goals to ensure our “Sustainable Economic Development for the Future”.
This has indeed been a long time coming and I must state clearly that your Government has tackled many issues that have been a long time coming and tackled them with great success, to which we say to God be all the Glory. And this is yet another one and with the coordinated efforts of both public and private sectors, we will be able to make the strides that are necessary towards our vision for our future prosperity.
The future belongs to the prepared, and through these initiatives your Government is preparing you our people and we together as a people, we are preparing for the future.
So in the coming days, there will be a series of events and activities that will help to sensitise you, the people of the Virgin Islands, about the Trade Commission, its structure, services and activities to be undertaken by this agency to ensure our sustainable economic development.
The sustainable development of the Virgin Islands, and with it the social and economic security of our people is one of your Government’s highest priorities.
This is a mission that your Government is committed to as we seek to enable and empower all persons in the transformation of the Virgin Islands into leading regional economy through entrepreneurship, innovation and local and foreign investment.
The launch of the Virgin Islands Trade Commission today is a milestone in our Territory’s development. And I must say while this initiative has undergone a transformation through many Permanent Secretaries, I must publicly thank Ms. Lizette George for her efforts in this area from the Premier’s Office over the years. And with each milestone you can be reassured that your Government is working for you – and we continue to work for you.
I now look forward to seeing all the necessary steps and activities taken to get the Trade Commission up and running and in full swing, serving and servicing the needs of the people.
I wish to thank all those persons, especially our hard-working public officers, all of them too numerous to mention who have brought us to this monumental and historic occasion, and who continue in dedicated service to our Territory.
I also must at this time thank our Junior Minister for Trade, Honourable Shereen Flax Charles who is tasked with leading the charge to ensure this initiative comes to fruition.
I thank you and may God continue to bless and protect these Virgin Islands and our people. As our best days are not our yesterdays but rather our tomorrows.