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Walwyn: Trade school could cushion blowback of imminent job losses in financial services

Walwyn

The job losses projected to happen in the financial services industry because of the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act that came into force on New Year’s Day, has created an even greater need for a trade school in the British Virgin Islands, says Education Minister Myron Walwyn.

As the title suggests, a ‘trade school’ would train or equip students with a trade or skill, and Walwyn said such a school could act as a cushion for the anticipated blowback on local financial services, which is the territory’s main revenue generator.

“As we move towards the situation with financial services and the challenges that will come, we need an institution that can retool people who would lose their jobs so that they can get into other industries,” he said while speaking in the House of Assembly last week.

The minister described the trade school as a supporting institution for the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies in Baughers Bay, Tortola.

He further said the trade school would cater to “persons who are not in formal education but need some skills to transition”.

Walwyn had called for a trade school back in June 2017 but renewed those calls after global superpower group, the European Union, pressured the BVI to implement the economic substance law.

Under the Act, offshore companies are expected to physically set up office spaces in the territory if they are to continue doing business with/through the BVI.

READ: BVI to hit noncompliant companies with varying fines

While debating the bill last month, before it became law, Walwyn said: “There are a number of other issues that would be presented to us from that [legislation] — cultural issues, issues of space, the difficulty of companies moving and getting up from where they are located now, to come to the Virgin Islands.”

READ: Offshore companies must set up physical offices in BVI

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24 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So Minister, you propose all those attorneys that are charging offshore companies $1,000 an hour to now take themselves to your Trade School and learn to farm, construction or cook. The Trade school is needed as the local population has no skills but this is a separate issue from the economic impact the Territory is going to experience from the loss of revenue from the loss of these corporations. Don’t mix the two together. They have no bearing on each other

    Like 30
    Dislike 7
    • the watcher says:

      Dear Anonymous: Perhaps you would be good enough to advise what your solutions are? I don’t think the Minister is really talking about the lawyers earning $1000 an hour. Unfortunately most of them will depart for new pastures where they continue earning those fees in countries that are a bit more welcoming.

      Like 11
      Dislike 11
      • Accountant says:

        Well, if we loose half our revenue 50% of govt employees will be looking for new jobs.

        We wont need new plumbers and electricians, we will need new employers

        Like 16
    • Hidden Meaning says:

      @ Anonymous, Being a lawyer himself (according to him), it would seem he would have had an idea or two, about how lawyers, office managers, clerks etc) already accustomed to a certain lifestyle could transition to another field/fields. Perhaps their services could be utilised right there in government where millions are being spent on lawsuits annually; to advise when doing business with the Chinese and when investing in airplanes,expanding the airport, pier parks etc.

    • Quiterite says:

      What the man saying? He wants to send all of us to trade school to learn a new trade?
      He is responsible for us loosing our jobs and now he wants to train us to fix his toilet?

  2. Reply says:

    I’m afraid you will need a lot more than a trade school to address the expected and anticipated job and revenue losses Mr. Walwyn.

    You should consider moving on to plan B, or else expect the unemployment rate to rise.

    Like 16
    Dislike 1
  3. @the watcher says:

    There is only one industry that can save the Territory and that is tourism. The Territory needs to make it feasible and inviting for hotels, restaurants and retail to open. Instead the nasty immigration officers welcome the tourist with their sour and rude faces. Retail can’t sell to tourists because there is 20% duty so everything is cheaper elsewhere. You don’t let chains in unless it suits you and I’m not saying have 20 KFC franchises but allow businesses other than those owned by the ministers and the investment club into the Territory. This is how you prosper. Otherwise keep your little secret to yourself and perish

    Like 31
    Dislike 1
  4. Anonymous says:

    “continue earning those fees in countries that are a bit more welcoming.”

    As long as people and country can be over charged, over priced and over robbed and don’t complain, we are/they are a welcoming people and or country.

    Complain about being advantaged once, and you are “a bit not welcoming.”

    • the watcher says:

      Dear Anonymous: I think you will find that it is foreign users of BVI structures that are being charged $1000 per hour, not locals. As you might expect a good portion of that $1000 is spent right here. Be careful what you wish for!

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is brutally sad and unfair that institutions can exist all the way in Europe, and can have such devastating effects on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe and in the British Virgins.

    Why should we lose income, jobs, our financial institution and our livelihood because they think we should? That is flat out wrong!

    It is devastating that they have the power and control to determine if governments, financial institutions, the employed and the families with children to clothe and feed whether all of the above survive or perish.

    That to many is simply wrong! Some things must change. We must do what is necessary to take back control of our financial destiny. Only we should be in charge of that!

    No man or country was created to rule over or determine another man’s destiny. We must change this!

    Like 4
    Dislike 3
  6. Political Observer (PO) says:

    Undoubtedly, IMO, this rushedly imposed Economic Substance Bill will adversely impact financial services, a key plank in the economic twin pillars; tourism is the other sector. 60% of government revenue is sourced from financial services. This number will trend downward as result of this new bill and the lost will have to be made up elsewhere. The loss of revenue from financial services will adversely affect delivery of government services. Can the loss of revenue be made up from a trade school?

    I’m not averse to a trade school; a trade school will definitely lower the need to import certain skills, ie, auto mechanics, plumbing, IT, masonry, carpentry, air conditioning, electrician, drafting, surveying……..etc, creating more job opportunities for locals (supposedly indigenous Virgin Islanders +Belongers). But with a faltering economy, how will a trade school supplement the loss revenue? Will the trade train to export skills, ie, Indian Institute of Technology……etc? The BVI economic twin pillars—financial services & tourism—is fragile. A stumble in one could cause the whole economy to tumble.

    Moreover, to lessen this economic fragility, the economy must be diversified. However, diversifying the economy will be a big challenge. It will a plan with creativity, innovation……etc.

  7. Albion says:

    Why would we need *another* trade school? Why not just fix HLSCC so that it works properly?

    Like 15
    • RealPol says:

      @Albion, real talk. HLSCC is not meeting it’s full potential. It is election season and some people are trying to reinvent the wheel.

      Like 6
      Dislike 1
  8. Bykr55 says:

    You might also try and look at the positive side of this. Businesses have one of two options…leave the jurisdiction or move part of their operations to BVI. Instead of focusing on Trade Schools…why not make sure that the College has competent business management programmes so that locals can asssume many of the administrative and middle management responsibilities for these companies relocating to BVI.

    All everyone does is complain about too many more non islanders coming here or complain about the companies leaving. You can’t have it both ways. You were glad to take their money with new incorporations as long as they left. Now the EU is making them come back and you complain!

    We are a spoiled island of residents who feel so hard done by. Sad.

    Like 8
    Dislike 1
  9. John says:

    Here is a real cushion:

    Legalize cannabis

    – Use it as a marketing tool for tourism.

    – Allow young entrepreneurs to “set up shop”.

    – Tax them.

    Results: Boost in tourism; New business/ Jobs; revenue generated through taxes; and a possible reduction of in crime.

    You’re welcome.

    Like 12
    Dislike 5
    • Refine it says:

      Remember, while that seems a good idea and might be modelled a bit on the Cuban cigar model for the type of clients we prefer, we can’t do that with USD while trump and his cronies are in power. Do we switch to CAD or HKD (where most of our clients come from and which is pegged to the dollar) ?

  10. Longshanks says:

    Perhaps we should repair the high school before starting on a trade school.

    Like 13
  11. Sam the man says:

    I’m afraid the No Direction Parties slogan – “Better Stronger Together” should more accurately be replaced with ” Worse Weaker Disunity”! such is their ineptness, lack of vision and weakness…

  12. Hah says:

    Thank you for the kind thoughts Myron but no I dont think a trade school would help most of the people. Its not 100 people that you are trying to help find employment. Some single trust company have almost that amount of employees. How many plumbers, carpenters, electricians, chefs etc. do you think a 24 square mile island will need. Half of the employees will leave the island especially the ones that are on work permits that are making $100K a year or close. This will deal a major blow to NHI, the Government’s revenue and expensive real estate agencies that cater to those folks. The other employees will attempt to turn to the Public Service where it will be a dog fight for any available positions. A battle of who knows somebody at the top of the hiring chain to grab a spot. Those who are unsuccessful may ultimately be forced into an exodus to save their livelihoods.

  13. Anonymous says:

    A trade school is needed, not to cushion the blow back from loss of jobs in the financial services, but rather as another option for those who don’t want to or can’t take the traditional college route. There are more skills that a trade school can offer outside of electrical and plumbing. There can be dentistry, nursing, technicians (computer and otherwise), HVAC, mechanics, artists, and the list goes on. Those skills will be needed and in some ways will reduce the amount of outsourced labor for those particular skills as well as to create healthy competition and added jobs for those in need.

    Earlier comments are right in that some if not most will seek greener pastures if the costs outweigh the benefits. A solution to the loss of revenue and not necessary the jobs will be to properly focus on your other pillar/money maker which would be tourism. There is a lot that can be done to improve attractions and tourism which would in turn generate some of that lost revenue. It’s unfortunate that we are subject to the mandates set forth by other entities but that’s just one of those things that come along with not being an independent territory. We are not in the position to do anything about it at the present movement but there are things we can do as a territory to see that this short end of the stick we were given doesn’t lead to our downfall.

  14. Well Saw says:

    Minister explain please how a trade school will meet that need. Sturppeessss

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