Opposition legislator Julian Fraser has said he believes the territory is not benefitting enough from the territory’s so-called trillion-dollar Financial Services Industry.
“I am seeing more poverty in this territory now than I have ever seen before and yet there are people who believe things are good,” Fraser said while contributing to the parliamentary debate on the Beneficial Ownership Search System (BOSSs) Amendment No. 2 Act of 2019.
“Those same people who are around saying things are good – unless they are pushing drugs – check their bank account. That should not be. Why do we settle for nothing … [or] for second best as a people?”
He continued: “You have over 400,000 companies registered in the Virgin Islands. I’ll give you a simple statistic to wake you up. Of those 400,000 plus companies that are registered in the Virgin Islands, 11,700 of them own 23,000 properties in the United Kingdom that are valued at $63 billion. Those are companies registered right here, what do we get from each of those companies — $450 a year for registration? When they open the company, they pay another $1,000 to register it, and we are happy.”
BVI is gathering crumbs
Fraser, who was one of the hopefuls in the race to become the leader of government business during the 2019 General Election, further said the BVI people are suffering.
The politician also expressed concern that more locals aren’t concerned with what he suggests are unacceptable poverty levels.
“The people of the BVI deserve to be rich. We cannot continue to see money pass through this country, and not even the green of the dollar stays. And I don’t see that level of frustration over this that we need to have. This is a serious matter,” he said.
Lack of scrutiny
He further said he believes that the lack of scrutiny of the sector by previous administrations is what caused the industry to be in its current state.
“If more people got involved and shared their views, it makes for a better system and anyone who fails to recognize that is doomed to fail. I wasn’t kidding when I said people are asking for assistance for everything and it is not a pretence. Some people cry at night. But when morning, they come with a big smiles on their faces, that’s how hard things are,” Fraser said.
The legislator said this should not be taking place at this stage of the territory’s development.
“If we don’t make a change, it is going to be happening for the next 20 years,” he argued.
Fraser was speaking against the backdrop of the recent article by American business magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek. The article titled: Sun, Sand and the $1.5 Trillion Dark Offshore Economy, effectively said that despite the booming offshore economy, the “wealth passes through [the BVI] almost without a trace”.
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