Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Promotion Marlon Penn has announced plans to release an investment strategy for the British Virgin Islands.
He said the strategy will be used to lure more local, and foreign investment.
Penn also said the Ministry of Trade and Investment Promotion, as well as the Office of the Premier, has been working on the strategy over the last year.
“We have done the work, done the research, put the documents together and … it is now for the Premier to do the public consultation on this process to get people to understand what we can achieve,” he said.
Penn’s announcement comes on the heels of statements from Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie, who noted how difficult it is for investors to do business in the BVI.
While giving remarks in the House of Assembly last week, Penn admitted that the territory has not ranked well globally in relation to the ‘ease of doing business’.
Investors are good
Penn said, contrary to popular belief, foreign direct investment is healthy for the territory, especially post-hurricanes.
“We must not try to scare our people or fool our people them to believe that investors are coming to take over their country.”
“We have to be honest with ourselves and educate our people on what foreign direct investment means for the development of our people.”
While supporting his argument, Penn referred to the local tourism industry and international investors who have operated major resorts and hotels such as Peter Island. He argued that those hotel investors have contributed to the employment of several locals.
However, he was quick to point out that investment must be managed properly.
“We have to ensure that whatever investment comes into the country does not disenfranchise the local entrepreneur [or] the local individuals who benefit from these investments.”
“That is our job as leaders to put the policies in place and protect the people — not to use scaremongering as a tool for political expediency.”
According to the junior minister, his vision is also to implement an investment promotion agency.
“The agency [will] deal with every investment in this territory. It deals with it from the beginning to the end and the whole aftercare of the investment. Where that investor deals with one department and it deals with all the different processes,” he said.
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