A petition hoped to generate at least 20,000 signatories is among actions local stakeholders are taking in response to the United Kingdom’s public register controversy.
The BVI Christian Council organised the petition as well a May 17 march from the Sunday Morning Well in Road Town to the Governor’s House as a sign of protest to the UK-mandated register.
The public register is an amendment to the UK’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which mandates that Overseas Territories like the BVI reveal the names of ‘secret’ owners of offshore companies registered in the territory.
Head of the Christian Council, Bishop John Cline said the petition will be submitted to Governor Augustus Jaspert, who will then present the petition to the House of Commons in Britain.
“We expect that when they receive our petition and see our voice of unity that they will rethink their position,” Bishop Cline told BVI News on Monday, May 7.
According to the clergyman, elected officials in government, stakeholders in the financial services industry, the Christian community, and residents in the wider BVI are expected to participate in the march.
“We want 20,000 people there, we want the whole BVI. We want children, mothers, and children; those in schools, in college, at home, even those who feel that they are not born in the BVI. They are affected so if they want their livelihood to continue and want to support their families, they also need to participate and support the country that has supported them for so many years.”
He said the peaceful protest is for the continued viability of the BVI.
“It is for political and economic justice because we feel, as a country, what the UK has done in the House of Commons is an attack on our democratically elected government, on our autonomy, economy; and we are standing together as a nation – to stand for what is right and what is justice.”
He described the UK’s move as discriminatory and one that ‘wreaks of racism’.
“We cannot lay down and play dead,” the clergyman said.
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