BVI News

Financial Services has been good to us; Wheatley rebuts Fraser’s claims about industry

Dr Natalio Wheatley

While admitting that the territory has accepted a subordinate role in the financial services industry, government legislator Dr Natalio Wheatley has rebutted claims that the BVI is not benefitting enough from the so-called trillion-dollar industry.

Those claims had come from senior legislator Julian Fraser who said residents only see an insignificant fraction of the revenue financial services rake in for the BVI.

Responding to Fraser’s assertions, Dr Wheatley said: “We have settled for the crumbs from the table, I agree with him completely. But I have to challenge some of the sentiments that I heard.”

“Sixty per cent of the government’s revenue comes from the Financial Services industry. Perhaps some persons would like to see that number increased to 70 or 80 [per cent]. But, in my view, the financial services have more than done its part in the budget for the government, in providing employment, in renting buildings, in lots of different things,” Dr Wheatley argued.

He continued: “I see as well a BVI that has the highest per capita incomes in the region and in the world. So for all of our criticisms, we must ever be mindful that the $180 million or so that the government receives from the financial services industry that helps to pay lots of salaries in the BVI. Those salaries help to pay persons’ mortgages, to build these grand houses in the hills. I see lots of persons driving Range Rovers and BMW’s in the BVI. The industry has been good to us, and we have to defend it.”

We need to manage the $$ better

The government legislator said the funds must now be managed properly.

“If we want to make the argument that the $180 million or so that we get from financial services hasn’t been managed well, well I can unite with you there. I think it should be reflected more in our infrastructure, more in the skills of our people. It is actually shameful that we have had all of this money pass through the BVI yet we have so many problems with unemployment,” Dr Wheatley said.

However, the first-term legislator said the territory’s leaders are the ones who must shoulder the blame.

“Who do we blame for those things? We should blame ourselves. I wouldn’t blame the financial services for that,” he said.

Dr Wheatley further said some responsibility must also be channelled to the United Kingdom who he said did not assist the territory with its guidance as a developed nation.

“It is not just a matter of sending someone down here to try to control our finances, our decisionmaking … [they need to] allow us to develop and to grow and give us guidance. Don’t try to do it for us,” the minister stated.

“Our people needed assistance in terms of a developmental strategy, an overall strategy and the same national development plan that we are grappling with today. That should have happened 40 years ago,” he added.

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7 Comments

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  1. USA, Virginia says:

    Not to change the subject, I picked up a copy of Condé Nast Traveler Magazine and there is a beautiful promotion Add from the BVI Tourist board. Booking tickets for myself and family.

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  2. Abraham says:

    Good honest words. The UK can certainly help us with their advice and loan guarantees and grants. Our broken streets, schools, utilities can all be fixed with proper planning. Besides the plan, the only thing that is holding us back is transparency.

    The UK has offered to provide us with all of the money we need if we only show them the audited books and keep them open for the public to see.

    Isn’t it about time we did do?

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes islanders are underpaid in the industry.

    • E Scott says:

      Islanders don’t have real jobs in the industry lol they just shuffle paper whilst the real work is done in London, NY etc then sent to BVI to be resent out again . It’s called tax avoidance the industry don’t really need the people just the address that’s what this is all about

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  4. local says:

    blah blah blah

  5. Pull the other one says:

    We have not been “left with crumbs” at all. Do not try to twist the truth.

    We have a very narrow set of service lines here because of local government and FSC decisions. They didn’t want banking and they chased away funds and insurance amongst others, not able to provide an acceptable level of competence at the registry and the regulators. Clients went to Cayman and other places in droves and a lot of work BVI simply won’t be considered for because of how difficult and slow it is to do business, comparatively.

    This narrow range of services puts us at higher risk with all the EU and US politricks to try to take our incorporation industry with the false transparency drive that is not even close to being a thing that the US takes notice of but we apparently have to. Smell the coffee.

    We don’t have the tools to respond. Cayman has a much wider breadth of services many of which are not as susceptible to the recent threats. Bermuda similar. Cayman, Singapore, HK, and the Channel Islands are much more interested in keeping the talent that has devoted their careers to developing business there whereas we refuse to provide any stability for these people and we don’t even have an infrastructure or schools to rival the more deprived areas of Africa, despite billions of dollars flowing into government. Where does it all go? We all know but nobody does anything.

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