Minister of Natural Resources Dr Kedrick Pickering said the imposition of a $10 environmental levy on visitors to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) will send a positive message overseas about the BVI, adding that it may result in the Territory getting assistance from international donor agencies.
According to the minister, the fee will make it clear to international partners that the BVI is serious about protecting the environment.
“When people see you helping yourself, they are much more willing to help you,” Dr Pickering said.
He made the remarks shortly before the House of Assembly, this week, passed the Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Bill 2017, which includes the new fee.
Under the proposed law, the new fee is to be used for matters affecting the environment and tourism.
Dr Pickering, during a debate on the Bill, said international donors are usually reluctant to assist the BVI because the Territory is believed to have a high per capita income.
“We are victims of our own success because, when the international donor community looks at places like Cayman Islands and Bermuda and British Virgin Islands, they claim that our per capita income is too high, so they are not giving places like us money. But what they don’t recognize is that those figures are oftentimes skewed and monies that we have are limited – as I pointed out for infrastructural development, education, and health,” Dr Pickering told the House of Assembly.
He added, that, by imposing the environmental levy, international donors would be more willing to help.
“By doing this (imposing the fee), what we are demonstrating to international donor agencies is that we are taking responsibility; we are taking actions that are directly responsible for helping ourselves, and then can attract the help from others.”
Dr Pickering added, “Without funds – without legislative frameworks like these, no one pays us any attention.”
He noted that the aforementioned Bill has far-reaching implications for the future of the environment and the territory’s tourist industry. Dr Pickering reiterated that, without the environment, there can be no tourism industry.
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