BVI News

Elected leaders didn’t implement damaging charter boating rules

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has moved to set the record straight by revealing that elected leaders were not the ones who implemented the damaging charter boating rules that were restricting boats from the neighbouring US Virgin Islands (USVI).

The BVI’s strict policies for foreign charter boats were implemented last year and made it more difficult and costly for USVI charter boats to enjoy BVI waters. However, they were recently reversed by the BVI government after the USVI threatened to take retaliatory action.

Speaking on the Morning Braff radio show on Tola Radio recently, Premier Wheatley confirmed that the rules were not originally made by the elected leaders in the House of Assembly.

“Last year, the decision was made among various agencies for these persons (foreign charter boats) to have business licences and work permits. It wasn’t a Cabinet decision made by ministers or anything that went to the House of Assembly,” Premier Wheatley explained.

He also said USVI businesses weren’t the only ones negatively affected by the new measures, as persons living on Virgin Gorda lost a lot of business when USVI charter boats were pushed away from the territory.

“It created some problems with traffic into the Virgin Islands. Places like Virgin Gorda, tourism is all they really have and when you cut down the amount of traffic going there, it has a real effect on their livelihoods,” Premier Wheatley said.

He added that the restrictions against foreign boats had started to affect the staff at some government departments in the BVI as the requests for business licences and work permits increased their administrative burden.

“We need to improve the efficiency of our departments like Trade and Labour — a lot of the staff are understaffed and overworked. Then you add a real administrative burden to these departments and then it would be very difficult for them to get their paperwork on time to serve their clients (foreign charter boats),” Premier Wheatley explained.

It doesn’t make sense to fight USVI, they’re family

The Premier also responded to critics who said the Government of National Unity ‘folded’ and yielded to the USVI when they dropped the restrictions against foreign charter boats.

The Premier said the USVI and the BVI have always had a great relationship and there is no reason to cause a strain between the two territories.

“We believe the USVI — those persons over there are our family. It doesn’t make sense for us to be fighting with the USVI. Yes, we want to be respected and we will be because we are making amendments to legislation that will give our locally-based boats an advantage,” Premier Wheatley argued.

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11 Comments

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  1. Interpretation Of Law says:

    It comes down to an interpretation of the law. It is my interpretation that it is not legal to perform work in the BVI without a work permit. If you are conducting business within the BVI the law says you need a trade license. When people come from another country on a yacht they are working (being paid) on that yacht. The captain and crew are employed by a company. That company is conducting business (charging clients) within the BVI. How therefore can you not be required to have a trade license and work permit? Why cannot a USVI businessman come over on a ferry or yacht and start cutting hair for example? Would this be legal??????

    Like 15
    Dislike 4
  2. One eye says:

    We need an election the sl** man must go!

    Like 5
    Dislike 2
  3. LOL says:

    Overworked and understaffed. If staff would spend 40 hours per week in their office working not stepping out or be on Social Media work might get done. And customs boarding boats with guns for inspections is not trade and labour.

    Like 10
  4. Bad bad state says:

    Mr. Premier you have no interest in fighting for anything except your job. In fighting for your job you lay down and let the UK do what they want provided you are allowed to say you are Premier. No different here with the St. Thomas issue. You have never run a candy store in your entire life. You’ve never made one investment in your life except maybe buy a vehicle which was rotten before election and then you ditched it for a new Jeep at tax payers expense once elected. People this is where we are. We are being led by someone who has no experience in nothing. Elections where are you?

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  5. USVI says:

    So does this mean we can enter USVI waters with guests, check in, drive them around USVI visit beachs, dive sites, bars etc then leave? IE operating a business in the USVI as they intend to in the BVI? The answer is NO, so how can they do it here?

    Like 10
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  6. @interpretation says:

    Very correct you are. This is how people operate when they believe they above the law. They start acting ultra vires then their decisions have to be put under the scrutiny of a judicial review. To be making this level of a blunder at this stage, it says much about the leadership, which leaves much to be desired.

  7. hmm says:

    Conducting business in the BVI without a trade license is illegal. If we gonna fall out because they don’t like the laws that are there to create a level playing field then we not “friends” to begin with. and without saying what retaliation they threaten us with you not really saying anything. The USVI just realize we have a pushover leading us right now and he gone come next election so get what you want from now.

    Like 10
    Dislike 1
  8. Hmm says:

    The mere fact you go on morning Braff is a clear sign that you have no class.

  9. rastarite says:

    The USVI had alraeady enacted laws and regulations requiring BVI water taxis to have business licenses and bonds long before the BVI Premier’s announcement. So to say that the unilateral decision to ease USVI boats’ legal requirements of trade licenses and work permits was because of a threat is FALSE. The damage had already been done

  10. smh says:

    Were you not and 12 others of the VIP ELECTED OFFICIALS last year… ????? Well, pray tell exactly WHO implemented these rules.

  11. ... says:

    “interpretation of the law” is a huge problem here. Laws and policies should be just that. “Interpretation” is creative enforcement just frustrating and damaging.

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