BVI News

Trade Department to be replaced by a statutory body

The Department of Trade & Investment Promotion will soon be replaced by a statutory body — the Trade Commission.

While outlining the objects and reasons behind the implementation of the Virgin Islands Trade Commission Act 2019, Premier Andrew Fahie said in the House of Assembly on Friday that the new body will be responsible for handling matters relating to business, trade, investment and consumer affairs in the territory.

He said it will also be tasked to “identify markets for foreign investments and opportunities to diversify the BVI’s current portfolio by economic development.”

The Trade Commission will have its own board which will comprise no more than seven persons who will be appointed by Cabinet.

He said some of those persons include a Trade Commissioner, as well as representatives from the legal, environmental, social, educational, the Business & Trade Association, and private business sectors.

“As a statutory body, it will be bound by the Constitution to ensure that all funds collected for and behalf of the government is paid into the Consolidated Fund,” the Premier said.

Complaints 

One of the Commission’s functions will be to take on any complaints that it receives orally or in writing under the Consumer Protection Act and determine if it is good or frivolous, Premier stated.

He also said there will be a tribunal, and that body will be responsible for giving the Consumer Protection Act “teeth” or greater powers.

Premier Fahie stated this is part of a series of legislation that is expected to reshape the economy “and to prepare the territory to become more competitive.”

“The BVI cannot consider itself an island in the global business world as we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic. The BVI can either continue to try to play catch-up, or we can develop a strategy for jumping ahead and gaining an international foothold as we find new and innovative ways to navigate the new and unchartered territory,” he arued.

Opposition Leader backs legislation

In the meantime, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Marlon Penn said he fully supports the Bill that was first initiated during his tenure as Junior Minister for Trade under the previous NDP administration.

“It is a piece of legislation that is long in coming. It is important for us now, especially during the COVID-19 era and especially after hurricanes Irma and Maria to put the infrastructure in place to ensure that we drive commerce in this territory, to protect our consumers, to protect our businesses and one of the key aspects is to ensure fair trade practices.”

He continued: “One of the challenges we are having a lot in the territory is unfair trade practices. I know the Commission has a responsibility to ensure that they uphold the proper practices in this territory as it relates to trade. There are situations where persons are selling products that they are not authorized to sell and authorized dealers who have to pay dealership, licensing fees and all the likes have to compete with persons who are not licensed to sell those products.”

As it relates to investment and opportunities, Penn added: “We have been talking for many years that the BVI is open for business. But, we have had a disjointed approach in terms of how we deal with investors, how we deal with persons who do business in their territory, not just new investors, but local investors and existing investors in the territory.”

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12 Comments

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  1. Please says:

    So now rather than going through the channels of a minister, the people have lost another power string so rather than Government regulating these trade licenses giving out.

    There will be a board directing the managing director without the discretion of the premier. I mean Who is advising Andrew why all these mistakes. And I shudder to think who is going to be the first set of Directors appointed.

    Like 11
    Dislike 3
  2. Sigh says:

    I hope they will be working with banks to improve our ability to sell online to international clients. Right now that’s a serious limitation. Online business is frustratingly limited.

    Also, can we put some energy into an existing commission called the TRC??????? As a consumer I have trouble understanding why this industry is continually allowed to rob us blind. We are paying triple what people in other first world countries are paying and getting a third of the speeds they get. (This sounds like a consumer protection issue to me.)

    Like 16
    • Rubber Duck says:

      The most successful economies are the ones who don’t have all this licensing, trade restraint, government interference and bureaucracy.

      Governments role should be to prevent cartels, abuse of monopoly powers and exploitation. In BVI there is clear evidence of those things in telecoms , banking and utilities. That is where action is needed.

  3. Consumer Protection says:

    So a Tribunal will be set up to arbitrate disputes. Is this like the Insurance Tribunal set up after hurricane Irma that had no authority? Does this Tribunal have the power to insure the consumers rights. All just a lot of talk and new jobs for more cronies. They will never take a complaint serious because all their friends run the businesses.

    Like 10
  4. Hot Air says:

    A lot of hot air. There’s a non-existent Complaints Commission that does nothing especially when a complaint involves the wrongdoing of their family, friends, and coworkers.

  5. Phoenix says:

    Trade has become a dynastic dinosaur. Why are people always trying to tear down any kind of change? This sounds like it could be a really good thing.

    Like 2
    Dislike 5
  6. systems says:

    TRADE DEPT NEED TO REMAINS IN CENTRAL GOVT . THEY WILL BE CORRUPTION AND INEQUITY IF THIS DEPT BECOMES STATUTORY.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  7. Help says:

    So why don’t the LIKE and DISLIKE buttons work? This happens kind of often on BVINEWS. Are you disabling them on purpose?

  8. Ex investor says:

    Loosing the belonger bias will be the only way real, meaningfull and longterm foreign investment will occur in the future. Nanny states will fare poorly in the digital age. Tic tock…

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