Thursday, February 01, 2007

The UK MP to Make Familiarisation Visit to the British Virgin Islands

Mr. Mark Simmonds, the UK Parliament Member, will be on a familiarisation visit in the British Virgin Islands from February 4 until February 10, 2007. His visit is co-ordinated by the BVI International Affairs Secretariat (IAS), and is part of the Secretariat's policy of strengthening the British Virgin Islands relationship with “Friends of the BVI” group, which was formed of the Members of the UK Parliament by the initiative of Lorna Smith, in her being a Director of the BVI London Office. As an Interim Director of the BVI London office, she actively worked with BVI All-Party Parliamentary Group, registered in the UK in late 2004. Currently Mrs. Lorna Smith is the Executive Director of the BVI International Affairs Secretariat.

Mrs. Lorna Smith in her comments on the UK MP familiarisation visit has said, “When we build close relationships with parliamentarians it helps to raise the profile of the BVI and affords the Territory effective representation and influence in the United Kingdom and in the European Community generally... Meetings and tours have been planned that would expose Mr. Simmonds to the economic, social and political life of the BVI in some of his specific areas of interest”.

The Director of International Affairs also noted that Mr. Simmonds is a good advocate for the BVI and other UK Overseas Territories in the British Parliament, who recognises the United Kingdom's strong historic ties with the Caribbean. She said, “ In Parliament he impressed on the UK Government the need to pay attention to the effects that the European Union (EU) Savings Directive would have on the BVI economy and other Caribbean territories “.

Mr. Simmonds is the Shadow Minister for International Development with the Conservative Party. Last May similar familiarisation visit was made to the BVI by UK parliamentarians, who were also members of the BVI All Party Parliamentary Group.

During his visit, Mr. Simmonds will meet with Chief Minister Honourable Dr. D. Orlando Smith, and eith his Excellency the Governor David Pearey, with Deputy Chief Minister Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton, Speaker of the Legislative Council Honourable Inez Archibald, Leader of the Opposition Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, and members of the BVI Constitutional Negotiation Team.

He will also meet with other officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, the Financial Services Commission, BVI International Finance Centre, the Ministry of Education and Culture. Mr. Simmonds will also visit the BVI High School in Road Town, and the Bregado Flax Educational Centre on Virgin Gorda.

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