The Government of the British Virgin Islands and BVI Finance Limited have officially entered into a public/private partnership to develop and promote the financial services industry.
The two parties signed a cooperation agreement which outlines the details of the partnership and which represents the final phase of the transition of BVI Finance from a government department to a private company.
The cooperation agreement details among other things, a list of strategic objectives which includes encouraging sustainable growth through excellence and innovation; promoting competitiveness, integrity and transparency; coordinating the efforts of all key private sector stakeholders, liaising with Government, encouraging capability building within the industry and educating the public about the industry.
The agreement also provides for the creation of a four-year strategic plan and an annual plan and budget to be approved by Government which details planned expenditure for Government’s contribution of $1.8 million annually, the same amount allocated to BVI Finance when it was a government department. Ordinary members of BVI Finance Ltd. are required to contribute to the annual budget by way of subscription fees, based on number of employees and annual earnings, while other classes of membership will be subject to a fixed fee.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE said Government and the private sector have worked collaboratively for many years and the agreement formalises that arrangement.
“In the BVI, we have been saying for many years that there has been a good working relationship between the private sector and Government. In fact, this is something we have been boasting about and we thought we should take it to a new level,” Dr. Smith said.
The Premier further stated that having the private sector spearhead promotion and product development for financial services is an important step as the BVI moves to add value to its economy.
“I will be following on a regular basis what is going on because Government is investing a lot annually in the partnership,” the Premier said, adding, “What we are doing here is not just for the Government but for the companies as well. The more we promote the BVI, the more business will come to the BVI and we will all benefit.”
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Kenneth Morgan who signed the cooperation agreement on behalf of BVI Finance Limited, described it as a significant day for the financial services industry in the BVI and the transition to a true partnership.
Mr. Morgan said, “By creating this new BVI Finance Limited, the Government and the private sector acknowledged that we have to be nimble, creative and aggressive in promoting our services. In more formally joining forces, we expect that we can move more quickly and efficiently to promote and/or defend our industry.”
He also noted that the formal partnership comes at a time when the global industry is facing unprecedented change with regulators calling for greater transparency.
“The cost and impact of these changes cannot be underestimated, it is changing the way our businesses operate and calls for us to shift our marketing and development focus,” he said, adding “This new BVI Finance structure is one step on what is likely to be a long journey of frequent change and an increasing regulatory burden.”
The signing ceremony was attended by other members of the Board of Directors. The other private sector members of the board are Robert Briant, Vanessa King, Ryan Geluk, Claire Abrehart, Peter Tarn, Rachel McDonald, Jonathan Bailey, and Helene Lewis. The board is completed by two Government representatives – Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office, Mr. Brodrick Penn and Director of the Financial Services Implementation Unit, Mr. Kedrick Malone.
The revamping of the International Finance Centre, which was rebranded to BVI Finance in 2015 is one of the priority initiatives of BVI Forward campaign to strengthen the financial services industry. The transition from Government department to private company also brings the BVI in line with competing jurisdictions.