BVI News

No funding, staff for Trade Commission

Deputy Premier and Labour Minister Lorna Smith

There are not enough funds available at this time for the government to move forward with the long-awaited Trade Commission.

This was revealed by Deputy Premier and Trade Minister, Lorna Smith, who told lawmakers that an assessment was done by the government and it was determined that the first year of operations for the Commission is estimated to cost roughly $1.8 million.

In contrast, Minister Smith said operations for the current Trade Department are estimated at just $800,000 per annum.

Eighth District Representative, Marlon Penn, asked Smith to disclose whether the Trade Commission is now fully operational and if the Department of Trade, Consumer Protection Affairs, and the Investment Promotion Unit have been subsumed under the Commission as prescribed by law.

The Trade Commission Act was brought into force in November 2022 and Smith said the law provides for the Commission to promote and oversee business, trade, investment, and consumer affairs in the territory.

“A board has been appointed and received orientation in May 2023,” Minister Smith shared. “However, due to the absence of critical administrative prerequisites, such as sufficient human and financial resources, the Commission has not yet achieved full operational status.”

She said this meant that the Trade Department continues to be administered by the central government and has not been incorporated into the Commission.

The Minister further related that there was no timeframe for the Commission’s establishment, due to “several significant challenges that hinder its effective functioning”, which she said will likely be discussed at a later meeting in the House of Assembly.

But Penn was not satisfied with the response and urged that more details be provided, particularly in terms of how the current arrangements comply with the new law.

The minister then stated: “My concern is to make sure that the people of the BVI receive value for money. As I’ve said before, I am looking at how best to manage the Department and the Commission.”

Meanwhile, Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley explained that when laws are passed, there is usually a transition period allowed before the statute is fully brought into effect.

“It’s my understanding in government that when government transforms a department into a statutory body, there’s a certain period of transition,” Dr Wheatley said. “The operations are not transferred to the statutory body completely until the statutory body has been set up.”

He said that it should, therefore, be expected that the Trade Department will continue to process trade applications and provide other services to businesses until the point where the Trade Commission has been set up.

Dr Wheatley said there is only a board in place currently and said the Commission cannot operate and serve the business community until they are fully set up.

Penn, however, insisted that the law should be followed and explained that the law is clear on the transitional period. He said if this was not followed, then the government needed to come to the legislature to make the necessary amendments.


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  1. But wait... says:

    I swear big dawg say we not broke when he was tying to justify the non stop jam.

    Like 21
  2. Rubber Duck says:

    The trade commission legislation is a load of anti competiton, protect the elite, junk that needs to be ditched.

    Looks like Lorna is doing that.

    Good news if so.

    Like 7
    Dislike 4
  3. sexist says:

    We only got money for free concerts

    Like 15
  4. More Smoke and Mirrors says:

    Lorna just answer the damn questions from playing the fool. Stay on top of her Marlon, she is up to her usual trickery. Natalio fast asleep at the wheel but Barry say you will hear.

    Like 9
    Dislike 2
  5. Hope says:

    the members of the Trade Commission Board are NOT being paid until the transition is completed and the Department of Trade is abolished.

  6. Licher and Sticher Good says:

    As second in command of the A** Clown Brigade and deputy to the Sl**est Premier in the history of the Territory she needs to figure out what she is having for lunch after her mid morning nap

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  7. Shame says:


  8. WEW says:

    No funding for staff. Who went to Guyana? How much was spent ?

  9. How ... hmmmm says:

    Lorna, how the Government ain have no funds to hire people for the Trade Commission but you just hired an unnecessary person in your unnecessary ministry making over $250,000 per year and you moving out of Ministry of Finance building to an unnecessary space of your own. Oh it have money for that but the Trade Commission to make sure that we meet the necessary requirements it don’t have money for! The only corner Lorna in is her own!

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