Hon Fahie, during the wrap-up of the debate on the Virgin Islands Investment Act 2020 at Eleventh Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly on August 23, 2021, said it seemed like 50% of the Opposition did not read the Bill or intentionally did a debate outside of the context of the Bill.
“I say that Mr Speaker, because in the Bill nowhere does it speak to focusing on just foreign investors, or our investors to come in and take over this country from the people of the Virgin Islands (VI),” he said.
He said some members of the Opposition were aware of the sensitivities of the topic, yet some Members of the Opposition propagated it.
“Some of the Members of the Opposition know that once they say that and it gets in the news, it will resonate in the people’s ears as something negative and further try to put the government in a negative light,” he said.
“Which is what about 50% of them are doing from the Opposition on the street daily, giving their twist to things that are not so because they realise our people are so busy, they don’t get to read all of the legislation, or some don’t get to read any of the legislation,” he said.
According to the Bill, the Virgin Islands Investment Act 2020 has an aim to provide for the promotion of sustainable economic development and growth through the mobilization and attraction of foreign and domestic investments that enhanced economic development, reduce unemployment, accelerate growth, and diversify the economy.
The bill will also provide for reservation of certain economic sectors and business activities for certain categories of investors and will also provide for dispute resolution mechanisms involved in investments and to provide for incidental matters.
Premier Fahie stated that the Virgin Islands Investment Bill 2020, like many others, commenced under the last administration but “never saw the light of day.”
Opposition Leader, Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) said at Thursday's, August 19, 2021, HoA, that some elements of the bill needed to be revisited to bring context to the legislation in the grand scheme of the Trade Commission.
He raised concerns on the distinctions of investors and called for more to de done for local investors and local legacy companies to stop them from ceasing to exist in a more competitive business environment while still encouraging foreign direct investment.
The Premier, in addition, raised another topic that was not in line with the contents of the Bill.
“Where does the traffic turnaround fit into a Virgin Islands Investment Act? I pondered this all weekend, and I couldn’t find it, but if you don’t know that we are discussing the Virgin Islands Investment Act, you would say that those were powerful comments and all of a sudden the old ladies can’t cross the road; I never knew that that was an issue.”
He said many of the projects like the traffic turnaround, the beautification of the town, the development of the market had been in the making for years under the former NDP administration.
This issue was raised by Opposition Member Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4), who said the traffic was causing problems in its present state, especially for the seniors.
He argued that the city was no longer pedestrian-friendly.
Hon Fahie also called on members to “have the right decorum” even with they disagree during the sittings.
“We cannot be like in the days of marble when we feel like we are losing; we take up all of the marble and leave the marble game. We are doing the people’s work, and there will be times when there will be disagreements, and we have to ensure that we handle them accordingly.”
The Virgin Islands Investment Act, 2020, was subsequently passed with amendments, with 10 members voting for it.
The Members absent at the time of the vote were Jr Minister for Tourism and Investment Promotion Hon Shereen D. Flax-Charles and Opposition Members Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) and Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4).
The HoA resumes on Thursday, August 26, 2021, at 10:00 am.
Opposition Leader, Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) said at Friday's August 19, 2021, HoA, that some elements of the bill need to be revisited to bring context to the legislation in the grand scheme of the Trade Commission.
Opposition Member and Fourth District Representative Hon Mark H. Vanterpool used the debate on the Virgin Islands Investment Act 2020 to criticise the traffic turnaround in Road Town.