The proposals, if successful, would mitigate the effects of lost tourism dollars on the economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and would follow regional countries like Barbados which has implemented similar programmes.
With more and more people working remotely as a result of the pandemic, the first of the two programmes is one where persons employed in their home country would be able to work remotely from the Virgin Islands, and at the same time spend in the local economy.
“Your Government is developing the terms and conditions for BVI Instay Programme which will allow persons to come to the BVI and stay for an extended period,” Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie said during his Budget Address delivered during the Second Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) held at the Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff’s Bottom, Tortola, today, November 12, 2020.
The Premier emphasised that such category of persons would not be competing in the local job market as they are employed in their home country or elsewhere.
Premier Andrew A. Fahie announced the plans during today's November 12, 2020, Budget Speech for 2021.
Moving a step further, the Premier said his administration will also bring foreign investors through another programme called “Invest and Stay Programme,” aimed at attracting persons looking to capitalise on various areas of the economy.
“They will be allowed to live in the BVI but they will not be afforded the benefits that go with belongership; however, they will be mandated to employ an agreed number of persons in the BVI based on the size of their investment,” he said.
With both programmes allowing for persons to move to the territory, the Premier said spending would mean renting accommodations and patronising local businesses, while at the same time enjoying VI tourist experiences and making added contributions to local economic activities.
While both programmes sound appealing on paper, a possible bottleneck could be the territory’s expensive and poor ICT services, which could force the government to step in and address the long-standing internet woes.
It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.