A lawmaker in the British Virgin Islands, Delores Christopher, has expressed concern that the government is not demanding enough from foreign investors who intend to set up shop in the territory.
“We somehow must ask and seek out to get some scholarships and so on. You want to do business here, you need to give a scholarship or two. That is not an unfair request. Other countries do it. But in the Virgin Islands we overlook everything,” she told her parliamentary colleagues recently.
Christopher, who represents the Fifth Electoral District in the House of Assembly, lamented that foreign investors are being given incentives that are not available to even local small businesses.
According to her, the foreign investors who access such benefits are the ones who usually flee the territory in hard times.
“Yes we have to encourage – we like to say foreign [but] I like to say overseas or other investments because at times it seems very attractive to do so. But I know for a fact that they will operate in their interest at all times. If they are losing business, you could say you want them to stay as much as you like, they leaving town. And nowadays we see they don’t even tell you; they are not letting you know.”
“How many companies we have here operating just lay off our people just like that? Just like that, they lay them off. Then you have to beg the government ‘see if you could find something for me to do’ because people have commitments,” added Christopher.
She stated that, in the final analysis, local investors should get preferential treatment if necessary.
“We have to support ours and, if anything, we should have the edge. We must have the edge because at the end of the day these [local companies] are the ones you could depend on to employ some more people to still keep your economy moving whether it’s moving slow or not… The small businesses – from my experience, they don’t get the incentives that these other investors get. You give, and you give, and you give, and it doesn’t seem like you give enough. We could do better,” added Christopher.
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