“Let’s reform the way that government operates; the way that government does business with the public, with the business community,” Penn said in the House of Assembly (HOA) recently.
Legislators were at the time debating the Business Licensing Act, 2020 which has introduced a number of rate increases for trade licences which legislators said would bring rates on par with other overseas territories in the region.
Penn said one of the largest costs of doing business in the territory involves the way that the public is able to receive some of the services they need to get from government as they conduct business.
“I don’t necessarily blame anybody for that, it’s a collective problem that we’ve had for decades,“ Penn stated.
According to the Eighth District Representative, it is a problem that needs to be fixed collectively as well.
“We as legislators and as policymakers have to set the pace. We have to determine what is expected in terms of the way forward. We have to set what is a new dispensation in terms of business operations in this territory moving forward,“ Penn argued.
Penn also spoke of the need for government to harness the innovation that is available in the BVI and be able to build upon the next economic engine for the BVI.
“The opportunities are all around us, they are multitude. Through entertainment, logistics, technology – the opportunities are there,” Penn said.
He argued that even though the BVI imports 90 percent of goods to the BVI, the containers that bring them leave empty.
“You’re telling me that we could not have come up with some type of innovative product that we could ship back out of this territory?” Penn asked.
“Whether it’s through the technological space, whether it’s through the agricultural space, particularly with the fishing grounds that we have in the BVI – fishing is a 80 billion-dollar-a-year industry. We need to dig deeper. We’ve become very complacent as a people,” he added.
Penn said he felt the financial services sector and the money that it has brought in has made the people of the BVI extremely complacent, but said revenues and opportunities from the sector are now eroding.