The United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) are potentially hurting the territory’s already struggling and vulnerable economy.
That is according to Finance Minister and Premier, Dr D Orlando Smith.
The Premier said the EU’s incessant campaign to blacklist the BVI as a ‘non-cooperative and tax evasive’ country does not spell well for the territory.
He said the UK parliamentarians who are lobbying for the BVI to make its register of companies public, is also bad news.
“These two issues by themselves have the potential to significantly undermine our economy, the tax base on which central government depends to provide much-needed services to the people of the BVI, and the livelihoods of hundreds of people whose employment is in one way or the other connected to the financial services sector which is under direct threat,” the Premier said.
He made the remark while delivering the 2018 Budget Address.
Protect financial services
Dr Smith said the territory must protect its prized financial services sector, which remains in the bullseyes of international superpowers like the EU.
“What we face with respect to these two issues alone is a decision on whether we will continue to pursue our current financial services model or what actions this jurisdiction must take to make our financial services less vulnerable to these constant attacks.”
He, however, added: “I am very confident that with a united front, and with multi-partisan support in this Honourable House [of Assembly], and in this territory itself with strong, open debate; we can come to a decision that will serve in the best interest of our territory.
According to media reports, the BVI was saved from being pinned on the dreaded EU Blacklist because of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
However, the hurricanes were not enough to stop the UK-based Tax Justice Network from adding the territory to the 2018 Financial Secrecy Index.
The BVI ranks at number-16 on the index.