Officials at the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) have revealed that the BVI would be in danger of losing its international shipping certification if it didn’t increase fees which will provide the money to upgrade its facilities.
In an interview with JTV, Acting General Manager for the Ports Authority, Oleanvine Maynard said the upgrades are necessary so that the BVI can pass an audit from the International Maritime Organization which is scheduled to take place in April.
The audit will check to see whether the Ports Authority is abiding by the ‘Triple I Code’ — which are international maritime laws that govern the shipping industry. And according to Maynard, failing this audit could impact the BVI negatively.
“Security has to be up, cameras have to be up and we have to do a lot of upgrades. Nothing has been done at the BVIPA for quite a while and with the audit coming, we found ourselves scrambling in the midst of COVID
to get all of these upgrades done. Where is the money coming from? We cannot close down. How would you get your food?” Maynard questioned.
She continued: “I think it has been a number of years since we had an audit. But what we should have been doing is constantly keeping our ports up to date,” Maynard explained.
When the BVIPA initially announced fee increases earlier this year, there was much public outcry which forced the statutory body to halt the increases and opt for implementing them in a phased approach starting March 15.
Maynard admitted that the BVIPA should have educated the public before increasing the fees but she said persons must understand that the BVIPA is a business.
In supporting Maynard, Claude Kettle, the BVIPA’s Director of Finance said a consultant was hired and fee increases were suggested so the Authority can remain viable.
“The thing the public must understand is that the BVIPA is self-sustained. We do not receive any subventions or supportive income from anywhere. Everything we do is done from the income we earn at the BVIPA,” Kettle explained.