(Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News)
Executive Director of the Office of International Business, Mr. Neil Smith says that the BVI needs to prepare for the benefits of the enforcement of the recently passed economic substance legislation.
Speaking at a BVI Finance press conference recently, the Director reminded that while some may paint a gloomy picture of the impact of this legislation, there are benefits to be derived.
The legislation will be enforced from mid-2019.
For one, the laws require that the over 400,000 companies have a physical presence in the Territory, and according to Smith, while all of these companies will not set up shop here, the good effects of a small number of them doing so will still be felt.
“So, it means that you can’t have 400,000 companies in the BVI, but those that you do have, the economic benefits of having those here have the potential of being a lot more beneficial, even as a smaller number,” he declared.
The presence of just one company can have a good impact, he related.
“What it is in our view is an opportunity to retool and move on in the BVI…The potential gains are enormous, it just requires us to have a different mindset,” he stated.
He went on to say, “Instead of having companies just merely registered in the BVI, but their presence is somewhere else, we’re saying that the company actually has to be here in the BVI.”
When asked where these positive effects will be felt and who will benefit, he responded, “Everywhere…you will feel it throughout the entire strata of the society.”
“…If we have a big company here, we have all the employees….they’re buying food, they’re renting, they need to have relaxation. You see the shops getting support for clothing, food. They’re going to need to buy more cars,” the Director optimistically posited.
However, he warned, “The challenge for the government is not to allow too much because then you’ll have overcrowding.”
Government will also need to implement certain changes to facilitate the easy transition into the enforcement of the legislation, he added.
“It just requires us to think a little different…We just need to seize the opportunity and shift gears in the BVI. Government needs to look at things like the immigration policy, it needs to happen quickly so things can (be) facilitated.”
Additionally, he said that business processes will need to be completed in a timelier manner by Government agencies and departments, while efforts must be made to ensure easier access to the BVI by sea and air.
He also pointed to the need for more reliable telecommunications services.