On the heels of the British Virgin Islands first Novel Corona Virus scare, Opposition Leader Hon. Marlon Penn said the virus is already impacting the Territory via its economy.
Hon. Penn pointed out that the impact on the Financial Services sector is ‘major.’
“Coronavirus has already hit the BVI in a major way. The BVI financial services industry represents over 40 per cent of its shares in Hong Kong, China, Asia, [and the] Pacific region,” he said.
The Opposition leader said the issue is far-reaching as the BVI’s financial services sector’s ‘tentacles spread far and wide’.
He continued: “This is something that is of concern to me. So while we are looking at coronavirus coming to our shores, we also have to think about the economic Corona. And, we are feeling already I have no doubt, and it is going to impact our revenues in 2020,” he added.
Meanwhile, Penn pointed out just how the virus which is believed to have commenced in China, impacts the Territory.
“Many businesses are closed, or they are working short shifts, there is not much activity happening at this time. What is the impact on our industry? Are we looking at that? Are we measuring the potential impact economically on the coronavirus in the Asia/Pacific region? Hong Kong, China, Singapore?” Hon. Penn asked.
Further, he stated that January is typically the BVI’s biggest month for incorporations.
“Typically we get about 10,000 to 8,000 incorporations in the month of January alone annually,” Hon. Penn disclosed.
He added, “That has been traditionally the busy period for incorporations. But, half of the firms have been shut down or are operating skeleton staff. What does those numbers look like today February 28? Do we see a trend? Do we see this slowing up? These are things that we have to be mindful of; we have to accelerate the whole issue of diversification. We have to accelerate how we innovate in this industry, how we protect this industry.”
The financial services industry is already being impacted by other global pressures that saw revenue loss of about $30M last year.