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Fraser renews effort to ‘liberate’ local companies

Julian Fraser (right) is challenging Premier Smith to tell the territory when proposed legislation will be brought to the parliament to ‘liberate’ local companies that are not involved in financial services

Member of the parliamentary opposition Julian Fraser wants Government to declare when proposed legislation “will be brought” to the House of Assembly to “liberate” local companies from “onerous” regulations that are best applicable only to offshore firms in the financial services industry.

Fraser, who represents the Third Electoral District, has been a long-standing crusader for especially small businesses to be relieved of some of the regulations that he thinks should solely target the financial services industry.

In the next sitting of the House of Assembly on May 11, he will ask Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith the following:

“Could the Premier and Minister of Finance please tell this Honourable House when legislation will be brought to this Honourable House aimed at liberating local companies – especially small local companies – from the raft of onerous regulations aimed at non-resident offshore companies and the investment of offshore funds, whose sole purpose for being here are the benefits derived from the Territory being an offshore financial centre?”

Meanwhile, just over a year ago, Fraser, who was then Leader of the Opposition, noted that there previously was one law that applied to companies termed “local”. There was another law that catered to firms in the financial services industry that were considered “international”.

Following legislative changes, however, all companies registered in the British Virgin Islands are being designated as local, and are being governed predominantly by the same regulations.

That, Fraser has been contending, is creating undue hardship for especially small businesses that are not involved in the financial services industry.

When the issue was raised in the House a year ago, Premier Smith promised that his administration would examine ways to make it less burdensome for locals who want to register certain companies in the British Virgin Islands, when compared to offshore companies in the financial services industry.

The premier, a year ago, told the House: “This (registration of companies) is something that we on this side as Government have had some discussions about up to recently. We are actually in the process now of looking at that matter, and seeing how we could tailor things so that the local small businesses would not be subject necessarily to the same rules such as [the] amount of money when they are registering their companies. But this is something that we have to look at very carefully as we go forward, and we are indeed doing that… Actually, some of the countries we are looking at – what they do [is that they] have specific legislation for local companies which give certain benefits to local companies. So we will be looking at that.”

Since those comments were made, Premier Smith has not stated what action his administration will take to address the concerns Fraser had raised.

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