Residents on Virgin Gorda are complaining that they have become considerably more dependent on the main island of Tortola to get access to certain commodities.
Only a handful of businesses remained open on Virgin Gorda after Hurricanes Irma and Maria smashed into the island.
Residents on the sister island said they are now forced to travel excessively to Tortola to conduct business such as paying bills and doing transactions with government departments.
They described the problems as an ‘expensive’ inconvenience.
“Before Irma it was bad, and now it is even worse and I think that we can do a lot better … While we may not be able to hire more people, there must be a way for those businesses to come to us,” said outspoken Virgin Gorda resident and Calypsonian, Shereen Flax-Charles.
She said the islands of Jost Van Dyke and Anegada are experiencing similar problems.
Director of Projects in the Ministry of Finance, Dr Drexel Glasgow assured sister island residents that government will implement an Internet-based system as a solution.
He explained that the system will allow persons to do certain government transactions online without having to travel between islands.
Meanwhile, Virgin Gorda residents also described banking as a major issue on the island and called for further assistance to address that problem.
Since CIBC First Caribbean bank closed its Virgin Gorda branch last November, only one banking facility is operating on the island.
Residents are now complaining that they are ‘restricted’ because one bank cannot adequately service Virgin Gorda; especially as it relates to ATMs and cash distribution.
“I don’t know how much leverage that government has in terms of the private institutions, but we really need the option to have another bank,” one resident said.
Avenue for entrepreneurship
In response, Chairman of the Disaster Recovery Coordination Committee (DRCC) Brodrick Penn government will try to hold talks with stakeholders in the banking sector to bridge that gap.
Penn, however, noted that “government cannot make them carry out the service,” he said.
He further said: “In this process of recovery, we keep talking about innovation, this is an opportunity for somebody to not necessarily provide banking services, but some type of limited services.”
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