British Virgin Islands

Friday, Apr 16, 2021

Economic reality in the VI: Welcome to the raw truth

Coronavirus shockwaves have prompted unprecedented lockdowns which left many nations reeling from economic displacement which has impoverished many, and governments are left in a tailspin trying to make sense of it all.

The alarming reality of half-dead COVID-riddled economies stand tall on the list, and while the people suffer, the search for resolve continues. The demagogues of our world using this as the perfect opportunity, continue to suck the blood of helpless people, and it is very clear that COVID-19 has provided the perfect platform for international capitalism designed to flush nations down the sewer of irreversible poverty for ultimate control.

If immediate, practical action is not taken by well-thinking people everywhere to preserve life and decency, the entire world will witness the greatest pandemic ever.

The [British] Virgin Islands have not escaped this dilemma.

Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) outlined many plans for economic development territory-wide, which has amplified the need for clear cut short-term, medium-term and long-term people-based economic plans if economic growth is to be achieved. While the impression is given that economic restoration is in motion, the current reality of the failing middle class and the impoverished lower class provides enough evidence of the misery caused by COVID-19.

The struggling population now wonders if its pain will ever be understood by government, as people-focused plans are yet to be implemented to address the need of the common man. The fact is, if immediate, drastic action is not taken to open all possibilities for ALL PEOPLE within the territory to engage in immediate economic transformation, there will be serious trouble before the middle of 2021.

The Main Problems in the VI

The VI is not deprived of intellect, neither is there a shortage of manpower. However, age-old local xenophobic fear continues to cripple local development and strangle economic diversity, resulting in economic stalemate which continues to retard economic growth. The result: Increased criminal activity and a poorer standard of living for so-called entitled locals which is now creating territorial frustration, and unless immediate action is taken to implement people-based programmes to generate economic opportunities so families can continue to earn a living and preserve life regardless of COVID-19, things are set to get very serious. Microeconomic growth is the foundation for territorial economic stability which eliminates the need for survival crimes, provides higher living standards for many, and restores hope.

The Mindset

Secondly, there is a very high percentage of intellectual waste in the VI. People of potent intellectual capacity are kicked aside simply because they are “not from here,” deemed unworthy to contribute and be recognised nationally if they are “not from here.” On the flip side, strong nations like Canada continue to invite great minds to their shores which is key to economic growth, and President-Elect Joe R. Biden has vowed to regularise racist immigration laws.

The VI is no comparison to Canada or the USA, however, these key factors must be noted. Entitled xenophobes seem permanently blinded to this fact. However, the sooner the VI government becomes woke to the magnitude of harm this segregationist mentality is inflicting on the territory, the sooner we will be able to steer the territory away from the cesspool into which it is heading.

Nothing remains the same. Therefore, the ‘local and belonger’ gospel must cease if immediate attention is to be given to ‘strategic activation and integration of untapped intellect’ to save the COVID-riddled VI economy from collapse. Many may not survive to tell the tale and this won’t be because of COVID-19. We must integrate now to save the territory from collapse. Locals cannot do it alone!

The marginalisation of immigrant brothers and sisters in the VI is not only a gruesome evil, it is 100% anti-productive. To pretend about this while we scream to the heavens in prayer meetings, hiding the sin under our cloaks, is not only hypocritical, it’s wicked! The VI will never be a better place until we turn from our wicked ways. (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Highlighting The Facts

While countries must take steps to protect their own interests, common sense teaches this: If strategies designed to protect local interests become a barrier to economic growth and development, this must be closely examined and addressed. Closedmindedness to non-local intelligence continues to create serious economic retardation across the VI, and this must be examined.

Let’s look at trade. The documented bias even on the Trade License Application Checklist is a blatant example of inequality and cannot be overlooked. Four simple steps for locals and belongers applying for a trade license versus eight requirements for immigrants seeking to do the very same!

Local and belonger licenses from what I am told, are processed in a matter of weeks while the immigrant’s applications in many cases are shoved to the back shelf. Is this a good reflection of equality for local economic growth?

Aren’t immigrants living in the same place as locals and belongers? Who benefits most when BVI businesses do well? Is Premier Fahie really serious about economic growth? If so, how will this happen with this degree of inequity in place? I brought the license matter to his attention without a response to date.

INEQUALITY and INEQUITY must be eliminated if spontaneous national growth is to happen. These are toxic prohibitors of economic growth. True socio-economic development will only happen when immigrants like locals and belongers are given a fair and equal chance to contribute to national development. Immigrants affected by inequality and inequity are exploited, and this is a violation of their basic human rights.

Jumpstarting Economic Growth

From what we are seeing across the territory, these are the general recommendations:

*  Establish one set of requirements for everyone (locals, belongers and immigrants alike) who wish to apply for business licenses. This promotes EQUITY and will propel territory-wide economic growth.

*  Examine ways to expedite the application process to get things moving.

*  Remove taxation from imported equipment and raw materials shipped in specifically for this purpose.

*  While we expect functional guidelines to be in place, give incentives to IMMIGRANTS WITH WONDERFUL DEVELOPMENTAL IDEAS ALREADY LIVING WITHIN THE TERRITORY. This is an immediate boost for economic growth. Give our people a reason to uplift the territory! Economic diversity is the wind which keeps the local economy alive.

There is no need for the local economy to collapse when there is an endless reservoir of potent intellect at our disposal. The more we unite, the stronger we become. We cannot continue to disregard people simply because they are not ‘from here’ when the territory is depending on ‘PEOPLE POWER’ to grow and stand against the tough times ahead!

There is limitless capacity for economic growth within the territory, but we must understand the potent capacity of PEOPLE POWER. All families across the territory are depending on this. You don’t have to take my word for it. One thing is certain… locals cannot do it alone. Never have, never will!

Thanks for reading.

More next week.


Weekly Articles Written by Kenneth (Kenny G) Gladstone and Published by PSI Network Since 2017.

Article Published November 10, 2020.

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Quote of the Day

When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed

Ayn Rand
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British Virgin Islands