BVI News

Gov’t seeks to eradicate “fronting” in the business community!

File photo of the commercial district of Road Town.

The government has announced that its proposed Business Licensing Act (2020) will seek to eradicate “fronting” — something often done by persons who want to circumvent the law when opening new businesses in the territory.

In the BVI, fronting is said to happen when a non-Belonger seeking to open a new business, partners with a BVIslander to avoid expensive licensing fees and the overall process BVI laws set for foreign business owners.

After the new business is set up, the foreigners wait a few years before seizing a controlling interest in the enterprise and/or before removing the BVIslander as a co-owner of the business.

But in a recent interview with 284 Media, Junior Minister for Trade Shereen Flax-Charles said the Business Licensing Act (2020) will tackle this issue.

“We’ve found that you have this situation they call ‘fronting’ where a lot of BVIslanders will go into business with a foreigner and then two or three years later, the BVIslander is nowhere in the mix. So we are trying to streamline the process and be able to vet [new business] applications when they come in,” Flax-Charles explained.

The proposed legislation has already had its first reading in the House Of Assembly.

The law seeks to replace the Business, Professions &Trade Licences Act (1990) and is being touted by the government as a bill that will vastly enhance the local business environment.

Higher fees

Under this new legislation, both Belongers and non-Belongers would pay revised licensing fees.

Belonger licence fees would range from $150 to $1,500 — previously $25 to $200.

As for non-Belongers, they would pay fees ranging from $1,500 to $15,000 — previously $200 to $600.

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61 Comments

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  1. yolo says:

    nice and they could look over the DOG ACT LAW with these people keep bring there dogs on the beaches with out leashes running up and down disturbing people. Crapping on the beach peeing on people bags..barking at people…i mean there is a time for everything and the LAW SAY FROM 6 AM TO 8AM and 6PM to 8PM……goverment want fast money there you to get the police out to ticket there behind.

    Like 25
    Dislike 9
  2. Doh says:

    Wow just wow…

    Instead of encouraging business and outside investment this government continues to operate a policy of hindrance. Make it so difficult to operate a business here that it drives investors away.

    Another example of bvilove

    Carry on

    Like 85
    Dislike 18
    • Lia says:

      Please read the article. No one should be “fronting” for any business. There is a proper way to do things. The nonsense people do in the BVI cannot be done elsewhere. It is high time laws be enforced.

      Like 13
      Dislike 9
    • Rubber Duck says:

      There are of course many businesses where no locals or belongers are involved whatsoever. N**** C**, Lots of hotels, lots of charter companies etc. so as usual there are “ exceptions “

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
  3. bvi says:

    RIP bvi, its is done, are these guys serious, nah man.

    Like 49
    Dislike 3
    • Anonymous says:

      @bvI: can you go anywhere and front? Why should we allow it here?

      Like 4
      Dislike 6
      • Mip says:

        Yes, fronting happens most places.
        There a plenty locals made big bucks from it.
        They only cash out after a few years because they want the money. It’s not like these bad foreigners come here
        and corrupt us! Some of us are greedy and some of the
        fronting has been by politicians.

        Like 21
        Dislike 1
  4. Smh says:

    Don’t eradicate it, find a way to charge them and implement fees owe if they buy out the locals from the initial license date. You guys make things difficult, use common sense anytime the local is removed… Implement the fees and hit the foreigners the a backpay charge.

    Like 46
    Dislike 7
  5. Yup says:

    Sigh

    Our government signals to everyone and the world that we are again, not open for business…

    Like 64
    Dislike 3
  6. son of the soil says:

    I am sick of the bvislanders being used constantly in their own land

    Like 9
    Dislike 51
  7. agreed says:

    good move

    Like 10
    Dislike 22
  8. More Taxes says:

    How about the government spends our money better rather then taxing us more.

    Like 50
    Dislike 1
  9. Hodgie says:

    The BVI government actually promoted fonting. That’s home comes there’s no local technician at F*** working within our residential homes.

    Like 24
  10. lol says:

    soon we will have to pay for air as well.. lol smh

    Like 26
    Dislike 1
  11. Rubber Duck says:

    Massive extra bureaucracy as well as increased fees. Protection of the cronies businesses from competition. Government able to seize any business.

    Nothing at all to encourage enterprise.

    Like 33
    Dislike 1
  12. Ignorance says:

    I would love to know who is advising this government because they don’t have any kind of interest to the well being of this country’s economy. An annual fee of $1,500 to $15,000 for a trade license? Come on you are just running outside business away. With that employment for the community thus a fail in the economy and higher crime rates. What kind of trade license is worth $15000 a year really come one think from you head, it’s just ignorance.

    Like 53
    • Doh says:

      Just like the mafia does or businesses with protection money, so does the BVI. $15k for a business, over $1k per month. On top of taxes, nhi, ss. Nope. That’s a business killer.

    • Advisor says:

      I reckon it’s the Government of Zimbabwe. Or maybe Haiti.

      Like 1
      Dislike 1
  13. Can't end well says:

    An already arbitrary system (if one can call it a “system”) being revised… The atmosphere is not exactly pro business, and the rules and regs from Labour, Licensing and Customs are decidedly discouraging for anyone wishing to start a venture. Letting this red tape-and-bureaucracy-crazy government loose revising pretty much anything cannot end well.

    Like 26
    Dislike 1
  14. How? says:

    How are you going to eradicate it when YOUR law says in order for an expat to own and operate a business locally, a LOCAL must be majority shareholder in said business? find a way to better manage it.

    Like 28
    • for sure says:

      For sure the LOCAL received compensation for this fronting (perhaps that is illegal), so they are not going to be happy about changing the system.
      Compensation is strictly for providing the fronting, they aren’t actually doing anything for the business to be successful. That’s almost like extortion or protection money.
      Also, how many businesses do not pay their employees regularly. I know of one business, owned by an elected official, where the employee wasn’t paid for months on end. Other people had to help them survive until they were paid. And now that employer is making big decisions. God help the poor workers of this territory. God help the BVI.

      Like 23
      Dislike 1
    • @How? says:

      Not law – its just trades preferred situation. Dey causing the frontin!

  15. Facts. says:

    This is very prevalent in the construction industry where a white man or Bajan or Trinni hire a local and pay them a 10% to front . If they don’t they cannot get a license . They don’t have to even hire workers as so many locals are in the labor agent business where they import 10 t0 20 workers and rent them out to these fronted companies and get a percent back on the wages each day . All they need is a big name and a trade license and they can sit at home and collect . When they don’t have a contract with a fronted company they turn them out by the roundabout to look work.
    A return to slavery.

    Like 37
  16. The Nation says:

    The Trade Department is responsible for the same fronting so I don’t know what the Minister is talking about…when you go to trade as a non belonger they tell you you wont get it but if you find a belonger to do it for you they would approve it. I have also seen belongers and non-belongers go in and they only put the belonger on the trade licence and only approve the belonger…while the application was made by the belonger and non-belongers together…this happens alot with husband and wife non-belonger /belonger…soooo oh please…is yall cause it in the first place

    Like 35
    • Lol says:

      Yea BVI is racist like that.

      Like 15
      Dislike 1
    • True says:

      Heard that myself. Also heard I should get my Trade License but that they would only give it if I had a local partner (to do nothing but collect a yearly fee from me). That’s ridiculous and illegal but lot’s of ppl go this easier route…

      Like 11
  17. big time says:

    It gah lokal white boyz here fronting for outside white boyz

    Like 8
    Dislike 3
  18. things to make you go hmm says:

    why dont the belongers start these same businesses?? why they waiting for a non belonger to bring these money making ideas to the table first?

    Like 18
    Dislike 3
    • Fronting says:

      @things to make me go hmm. It is because it is often not the local’s idea. I have no problem paying the fee for a profitable business. But $15.000 for a start-up business because I was not born here or earn the privileges of Citizenship is ridiculous. Seriously. Make it reasonable for those who can and want to be able to operate legally not “TAG” them. Come on we are better than this. If foreigners know they can apply on their own and get through in a reasonable time (less than a year) this would not be in the news. People want to do better in a system that is designed to enslave. SAD.

    • hello says:

      A. they never had the idea
      B. they have no money\
      C. why do you ask stupid questions

  19. Jane says:

    I do hope that we will see severe punishment of all the many prominent Belongers who currently run this scam. This is corruption and as we know this VIP government has a zero tolerance approach to corruption.

    Like 13
    Dislike 4
  20. SMH says:

    Well there goes 70 percent of the economy…….Lol
    Hmm Does this include bringing in franchises under fictitious names?????

  21. Earl says:

    How about the Old premier that used to charge you $5k a year for your trade license!

  22. vip come on.... says:

    business struggling rite now with. the 50.00 dollar and you looking to raise it 300% to 150 to start.. I’m I dreaming? is this really for real??? wowwww

    Like 11
  23. @ yup says:

    WELL THEY HAVE JASPERT and the UK TO POINT THEIR DIRTY FINGERS AT AS A DISTRACTION

    Like 7
    Dislike 1
  24. Yawn says:

    To all the idiots complaining, “fronting” is similar to how criminals launder money. This is text book concealing the real identity of the owner. While most people in this particular category don’t use it for nefarious purposes some use fronting as a way to money launder.

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  25. @Son says:

    Bull Sh@t.

  26. PT9 says:

    The government want to go independent, the BVI dont have any export, the Trust companies will be gone if this place became independent all these tax hikes is only the start of what will come. With no Trust company our payroll tax will be so high we will be lucky if we go home with half of our pay, between NHI social security and payroll tax and because everything is imported food and everything else will be so high only the rich will be able to live in the BVI. The government is on a mission I hope they get stopped before it’s to late.

    Like 17
  27. Anonymous says:

    @Jane, What a joke

  28. Another Tax Increase says:

    As quoted in the article “Belonger licence fees would range from $150 to $1,500 — previously $25 to $200.”

    Aside from the blatant prejudice against non-belongers, has anyone else noted a 600% increase proposed for Trade Licensing????

  29. Tutu says:

    Once this kind of news and it’s just scary to see like a ctua government without thinking about what keeps the territory are the companies

  30. Observer says:

    A lot of government big shots done set themselves up so high taxes or not they will not feel anything. People talk about 1% in the USA, but we have a small group of 1% here in the BVI they are delusional about the average BVI resident. They control or own almost everything in the BVI and are politically connected enough that even when their businesses are failing their political allies throw government expenditure their way to keep them afloat. If you were to put some of these so called BVI business people in international waters without the governments breast for breastfeeding every now and again they would not survive….

    Like 11
  31. Guest says:

    I am curious if your trade department does proper due diligence shouldn’t this be caught? Also their seems to be quite a few franchise businesses here, did any of these come in by means of locals as you pointed out, doing nothing but assigning their names and getting yearly payouts??

  32. Clean up your act . says:

    What see should do is create a ACT to clean up politicians and friends who open business and use their parents and relatives name to front the business. That needs cleaning up too.

  33. Janet says:

    The goverment has ruined this economy, noe they want to bury it.

  34. Leveller says:

    Scrap the trade licence system.

    Trade licences reduce competition, and the consumer / people of the BVI suffer.

    It should not be a tool to stop immigration. Use the immigration system for that, and let the people who live in the BVI (whether or not born there, as long as there lawfully) prosper.

  35. I’m done with this place says:

    Without us White man as we are so commonly called this island is done. Stop the racist BS before this island ends up like Jamaica, the crime is already heading in that direction. Level the playing field and treat people as one. What happened to one BVI, BVI love. Without the outsiders white or black this island would still be struggling to recover from Irma. I for one am finished with this place. There are more welcoming places in the world just as beautiful. I employ several bvi islanders and treat them very well but I still get treated like an outsider after 10+ yrs. The government is helping bury this little country and it’s economic future. No one will come here to pay these silly fees and the locals are not willing or capable in running these businesses. They would prefer the handouts and to continue to extort people. There are no winners here, we all lose. I applied through the correct channels and was told it’s not against the law for me to apply but it is likely I wouldn’t ever get a trade license without partnering with a be-longer. This came from the head of trade. You are chasing away the very people that make this place thrive. GOOD LUCK BVI

  36. Hha says:

    There is nothing wrong with fronting. The thing is that a Bvi person should continue to be involve in the business. If the government should just raise the fees and have a law that continue the native in fine partnership and of the story.

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