Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The Territory’s chance to secure international funding for specific projects has increased, according to Deputy Premier, Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, who praised the introduction of the Environment Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act, 2017, that was passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, April 18.
Commenting on the bill, which will see a significant overall collection of funds from tourists, that will be reinvested into the tourism sector of the Territory, Hon. Pickering, who also operates in the capacity of Minister of Natural Resources and Labour, said that the availability of such a fund is important to the Virgin Islands, as the Territory has been turned down in the past for international financial support for pertinent projects, because of the Territory’s economic success.
“We are victims of our own success,” Dr. Pickering said.
“When the international donor community look at places like ours, they claim that our per capita income is too high, so they're not giving us any money, but what they don’t recognize is that those figures are often times skewed, and monies that we have are limited for things like infrastructural development, education and health.”
The bill, according to the Minster, will create an opportunity for the government to directly access money for projects, in addition to making long term processes much more sustainable.
It would also create a readily available fund, that can be utilized to finance projects towards the protection and preservation of the Territory’s environment.
“It carries far reaching implication for the future of not only the environment, but the tourism industry. By doing this, what we are demonstrating to international donor agencies is that we are taking responsibility, taking action; that we are directly responsible for helping ourselves and not standing in a track.
“When people see you helping yourself, they are much more willing to help you. We’ll be demonstrating to our regional counterparts, Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), CARICOM and the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, that we are now in a position to accept funds that are available.”
He added, “So we are advancing the process of ensuring that we protect our environment by tapping into the funds that are available for these purposes. Putting these mechanisms in place, we would be able to help ourselves, and ask others to help us to do what is necessary to ensure that our visitors will leave ultimately with a fulfilling experience, others will be able to come and the country will be sustainable.”