The Virgin Islands must diversify the financial services sector to remain viable in very uncertain times.
This was the message delivered to stakeholders in the industry who gathered at Maria's By The Sea this morning, January 28 at the opening ceremony for solutions forum.
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley delivering remarks on behalf of the Premier said the solutions forum is timely as for last three years there have been a steady decline in financial services which is forecasted to continue.
"By bringing the best minds in the industry here and I know that these are the very best minds in the industry, it is very hopeful that we will get some kind of solution to at least stabilize first and then grow back afterwards," Hon. Wheatley noted.
He added, "The world is in an incredibly unstable place right now. This Friday its Brexit; we are not sure what that’s going to do. We have the coronavirus that’s out right now. We are living in a very uncertain times right now. The investors and so forth they like stability; they don’t really like uncertainty."
Financial Secretary, Glenroy Forbes has told legislators that the industry saw $30M in revenue losses and that the decline in revenue is expected to continue unless something can be done to arrest it.
Hon. Wheatley stated that the industry has been under attack for a very long time and those attacks will continue; hence, there is need for careful planning.
"Right now it [financial services] brings in around 60 percent of our revenue which is nothing to sneeze about. It is very important to the BVI’s economy right now as we seek to diversify our markets," Hon. Wheatley stated.
He added, "We have to do out of the box thinking right now to make sure this sector remains viable."
Robert Briant, Chairman of the Board, BVI Finance Ltd said that private-public partnership is needed now more than ever in the industry.
"It is difficult times ahead but its good to know that we are working together," Briant stated.
The forum continues with closed-door sessions with presentations and discussions.
Premier fahie joined the closed door discusions with stakeholders.