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We are back on our feet; open for business

Premier Smith. File photo

Nearly two months after Hurricane Irma, Premier Dr Orlando has said the British Virgin Islands is back on its feet and is now open for business.

The Premier made the announcement yesterday while noting improvements to the territory’s utilities, port facilities, telecommunications, security, and major industries such as finance and tourism.

The premier made specific mention of policing which he said has been bolstered following a major breakdown in law and order.

He said homes and businesses are now protected by the territory’s nightly curfew as well as additional police officers.

“We are also able to increase their visible presence during the day time in the key commercial areas, again providing security and assurance to businesses that we are back on our feet, that law and order is restored and policing is functioning normally,” said Dr Smith, whiling noting police support from other jurisdictions.

As for tourism, Dr Smith said there is notable progress.

“While many of the marquis accommodations are currently closed, there are several others that continue to provide service. Very importantly, our yachting sector is excited to be welcoming visitors as of 1st November. Charter companies have already signaled sailing for the Winter 2017/2018 season – many of whom are bringing new yachts to the BVI for the first time.”

“Naturally, the return of this sector will take some time, but we are optimistic and ambitious and so too are our partners,” said the Premier; adding that the territory’s cherished sector, financial services, continues to do well.

Port facilities are also being worked on, Dr Smith said.

“We are drawing up plans to restore the Road Town port facilities. In the meantime, you are aware that we are currently using the Cruise Pier dock for clearance. Temporary facilities are being established for West End.”

The Premier added that the port facilities in Virgin Gorda are functional and so too is the cargo port in Port Purcell.

The Premier also underscored that his government will roll-out recovery programmes for local businesses in short order.

“We have designed four special programmes to assist Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).  We will support them with power generation, grants of up to $10,000, loan (guarantees) up to $25,000, and customer service and business hub to temporarily conduct some of their business affairs. So far, 633 businesses have registered for generators and small loans.  We hope to operationalise all of these programmes in the coming weeks,” he said.

And whiling noting that the social and health sectors are doing well with assistance from organisations such as Pan American Health Organization, Convoy of Hope, UNICEF, and Unite BVI, the Premier said: “I am pleased to say at this time, the BVI is open for business.”

Dr Smith said the above listed organisations have helped the BVI in areas such as food aid, shelters, medical support, building assessments, vector control, housing repair, medical infrastructure repair.

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