Friday, August 31, 2007

The First Days of the new BVI Government: Dancia Penn Appointed as Deputy Premier, the First Meeting of the National Security Council

After the Virgin Islands Party gained the victory over the National Democratic Party ruled by Dr. Orlando Smith, the five member cabinet of the new ruling party (VIP) was sworn on Thursday. Under the new Constitution of the British Virgin Islands, the head of the party Ralph T. O'Neal was sworn as Premier, - a post that was previously titled chief minister and belonged to Orlando Smith. The legislative council now is called the House of Assembly.

The new BVI Premier Ralph O'Neal has listed the top priorities of his administration as tackling crime and making higher the standard of living for BVI residents.

The first formal day of work of the new BVI government was Friday, August 24. On Tuesday, August 28, the Governor David Pearey, acting on the advice of Premier Honourable Ralph O'Neal, appointed Honourable Dancia Penn, OBE, QC, on the post of the Deputy Premier of the British Virgin Islands. Dancia Penn had already been sworn as the Minister of Health and Social Development in the new government.

Another institution introduced by the BVI Constitution 2007 is the National Security Council, which held its first meeting at the Governor’s Office on Monday, August 2007. The meeting was chaired by his Excellency the Governor David Pearey, and attended by the Premier Ralph O'Neal, Honourable Dancia Penn, and some ex-officio members.

The National Security Council has to provide advise to the Governor on the issues concerning internal security, and to make greater sharing of responsibility for security matters between the elected Government and the Governor, constitutionally responsible for internal security matters.

Monday, August 27, 2007

General Elections Won by Opposition, Ralph O'Neal to be the new Premier of BVI

Last week I gave some kind of preview of the BVI general elections, as the most important event in the British Virgin Islands, which will inevitably bring changes into the economic course, first of all in tourism and in the offshore sector. Now, when the results are already known and the new government is taken to oath, we can summarize that these results really changed the political situation in the BVI.

Tough competition between the National Democratic Party with its flagships Orlando Smith, Ronnie Skelton, Elmore Stoutt and Mark Vanterpool, and the 40-years-old Virgin Islands Party with Ralph O'Neal, Keith Flax and Vernon Malone, resulted in the victory of the opposition. VIP has won seven seats in the 15-member House of Assembly (former Legislative Council), and returned to power after a 4-year interval.

Probably, the voters in the British Virgin Islands showed some kind of rejection of the ruling NDP's platform, as there was only one successful candidate from the NDP which was the government's minister before the poll.

By the voting results, the VIP received top three spots. It should be said that the forth spot belongs to former Chief Minister Orlando Smith, who is also the NDP president. Orlando Smith conceded defeat of his party, saying that his government's approach was to develop BVI economy through the sectors of tourism and financial services. The head of the Virgin Islands Party, Carvin Malone, also named growth of economy as one of the main focuses of the VIP during the campaign. Both leaders agreed that key factor in the results of these elections was public perception of the development projects initiated during the ruling period of NDP.

On Wednesday, August 22, the Governor David Pearey officially assigned ex-leader of the opposition Hon. Ralph O'Neal as the first Premier of the British Virgin Islands. On Thursday, new government of the British Virgin Islands was sworn in at a ceremony held at the Chambers of the House of Assembly. Hon. Ralph O’Neal was sworn as Premier and Minister of Finance & Tourism, Hon. Andrew Fahie – as Minister of Education & Culture, Hon. Julian Frazer became the minister of Communication and Works. The other government ministers sworn during the ceremony were Hon. Omar Wallace Hodge – Minister of Natural Resources & Labor, and Hon. Ruth Dancia Penn which will lead the Ministry of Health and Social Development.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Financial Services Exemptions Regulations 2007

Recently I wrote about BVI Business Companies (Company Names) Regulations 2007 defining the permitted ending of BVI private trust company. On the same day, the Executive Council, acting on the advice of the Financial Services Commission represented by Natalie Fahie Smith, adopted also the Financial Services Exemptions Regulations 2007.

These regulations is additional schedule to Exemptions Applicable to the Banks and Trust Companies Act, 1990.

This legislative act explains in details following issues: Application of Financial Services Commission Act, 2001 and Banks and Trust Companies Act to private trust companies, Duties of registered agent of private trust company and Obligations on private trust company, and also defines the meaning of “unremunerated trust business”, “related trust”, “group of related trusts” and “connected person”.

These regulations come into effect on August 1, 2007, except Qualifying BVI Company that has been “re-registered under paragraph 6(1)(b) of Part III of Schedule 2 of the Business Companies Act and, in respect of which, an election to disapply Part VI of Schedule 2 of the Business Companies Act has been registered”. Concerning the last ones, these regulations come into effect on January 1, 2008.

The full text of the document can be read on http://www.bvifsc.vg/Publications/LatestDocuments/tabid/214/Default.aspx.

Friday, August 17, 2007

BVI General Elections to be Held on August 20

Although BVI Offshore World usually does not inform about political news, I cannot ignore in my blog the event of the highest political importance - general elections, which are to be held in some days. After all, the results of the elections will have great impact on the economic development of the British Virgin Islands.

The general elections will be held on August 20, with the participation of the two major political parties of the territory. These parties, to which most candidates are affiliated, are the ruling National Democratic Party of Chief Minister Orlando Smith, which was formed prior to the 1999 elections, and the main opposition Virgin Islands Party of former Chief Minister Ralph O'Neal. There are also some several independent candidates participating in the elections. The parties will outline their four year work plans in the manifestos that will be released this week.

General elections in the BVI territory are held every four years. BVI Legislative Council includes 15 members: 13 are elected to four years, nine in single-seat constituencies and four at large. The other two members are the attorney general and a speaker. The Council members will be elected among thirty-five candidates that were nominated to run in the 2007 General Elections. In 2003, there were thirty-three candidates nominated.

There are 11,115 people eligible to vote on one of the nine polling stations operational during the 2007 General Elections. Each person may cast five votes – one in the district he is registered in, and one each for four-at-large candidates.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

BVI Business Companies Company Names Regulations 2007

BVI Business Companies (Company Names) Regulations 2007 defining the permitted ending of BVI private trust company was signed by Clerk of the Executive Council, Natalie Fahie Smith, on August 2, and gazetted on August 3 2007. The original document can be read on http://www.bvifsc.vg/Publications/LatestDocuments/tabid/214/Default.aspx.

BVI Business Companies (Company Names) Regulations 2007, which is a small document consisting of two pages, simply orders that the name of private trust companies established under BVI Business Companies Act, 2004 should include designation “PTC” before company name ending. BVI company name endings are stated in section 17(1)(a), (b) or (c) of the BVI Business Companies Act 2004 and these are “Limited”, “Corporation”, “Incorporated”, “Societe Anonyme”, “Sociedad Anonima” or abbreviations “Ltd”, “Corp”, “Inc” or “S.A.”

So if my private trust name in the BVI is “My BVI Trust Ltd”, I should name it “My BVI Trust PTC Ltd”. So easy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

BVI Ranks Third with $1.43 billion FDI in Vietnam

The Foreign Investment Agency of Vietnam informed that in the first seven months of the year the country has attracted over US$7.47 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) – the 50% increase compared to the same period of the last year.

There are 39 countries and territories making direct investments in the economy of Vietnam. The British Virgin Islands rank the third by the amount of FDI, having 13.4% of the total with over $1.43 billion invested. During long period, BVI is among the top investment sources in the economy of HCM City. This year's results confirm strong positions of BVI among FDI sources in Vietnam's economy.

The first two places in the rank of investors belong to the country's neigbours. South Korea with over $1.43 billion makes up 22.5% of the total amount, Singapore has another 20.6%, with $1.32 billion of foreign direct investments.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Legal Dispute between Telecom Operators: Digicel against C&W

After Digicel filed legal action against the BVI Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, and won it, the company has filed an application against Cable & Wireless. The company declares that the rival operator used illegal practices to delay the entry of Digicel into a number of Caribbean markets, and seeks for multi-million-pound compensation for lost revenue, profits and market share.

The lawsuit was filed last week in a British high court, the countries involved are St Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, the Turks and Caicos Islands. According to Digicel, when it began expanding its operations in the markets of these countries from 2002 to 2006, C&W resisted interconnection between different mobile and fixed land providers.