Friday, September 28, 2007

Governor David Pearey Appointed the BVI First Full-Time Magistrate

The Governor Mr. David Pearey has appointed the BVI first full-time Magistrate with effect from September 1, 2007. The person chosen to this post was Mrs. Charmaine Rosan-Bunbury who worked in the Attorney General Chambers as Crown Counsel from 2001 until this appointment.

Mrs. Rosan-Bunbury is a BVIslander, holding a legal certificate from the University of Northumbria, Newcastle United Kingdom, a Bachelors of Law with Honours from the University of Wolverhampton, UK, and a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the University of the Virgin Islands.

The new Magistrate will deputise for the Senior Magistrate and preside over civil proceedings; she will also preside over sittings of night court, serve as Coroner and conduct inquests into unnatural deaths within the Territory of the British Virgin Islands.

Senior Magistrate Mrs. Valerie Stephens has said that she is pleased to work with Mrs. Rosan-Bunbury, and is glad that being the first full time local Magistrate Mrs. Bunbury would provide balance in court proceedings.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

London Presentation Organized by the BVI International Finance Centre in October

The BVI International Finance Centre will send the delegation to London in October. It's task will be to undertake a series of presentations informing executives involved in the trusts and corporate business sector on the development of BVI trusts and corporate business industries, their regulatory environment and current offshore finance trends and opportunities. Members of the delegation will be Christopher McKenzie (Walkers BVI), Kenneth Morgan (Rawlinson & Hunter, BVI), Peter Larder (AMS Group), and Helene Lewis (Simonette Lewis).

On October 2, evening presentation will be hosted for London-based executives in the trusts; on October 3, there will be presentation for corporate business industries. Speakers from both Public and Private sectors will provide information on the growth of the BVI trusts and corporate business industries, their regulatory environment and current trends and opportunities in offshore finance. BVI IFC will also arrange a series of meetings with London's leading private banks and corporate law firms.

Established in 2002 as a result of the Government's commitment to support the financial services industry, the BVI IFC has played an exceptionally important role in the promotion and marketing of the BVI as a leading financial centre. The main task of the IFC is to make sure that the BVI retains the balance in having a sound regulatory framework, an entrepreneurial business community and BVI government. IFC is not involved in financial regulation, which is the sole responsibility of the BVI Financial Services Commission, also established in 2002.

In June 2007, the BVI IFC revealed new records that showed that in 2006 65,284 Business Companies were registered in BVI, - a 12% increase as compared with 2005, and a new record for annual BVI company registrations set by the offshore centre. In total, at December 31, 2006 there were nearly 775,000 of both types of BVI companies – International Business Companies and BVI Business Companies.

Also, in 2006 the BVI became the 3rd largest offshore centre for captive insurance business, with 57 new captive insurers registered, and total amount of captives being over 400. There were more than 282 new investment businesses in 2006, and the total amount for that sector was about 2,600 active mutual and hedge funds in the beginning of 2007. This year, further growth is expected.

Friday, September 21, 2007

1st House of Assembly inaugural sitting held in BVI

September 14, 2007 can be considered to be the beginning of a new era in BVI politics as the 1st sitting of the new House of Assembly convened in Road Town.

The 3-hour session attended by Gov. David Pearey, public servants, family members, students, party supporters and visitors hosted the 13 representatives elected during the August 20 General Elections. Also, a delegation from the U.S. Virgin Islands attended the ceremony.

David Edgecombe represented Gov. John deJongh Jr., Simon Caines represented Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and Stephen Frett represented Senate President Usie Richards. Sen. Carmen Wesselhoft of St. John also attended.

The main three tasks of the day were selecting a speaker, who does not belong to the ranks of elected House members, electing a deputy speaker and administrating the oath of allegiance to the new members.

The speaker was elected unanimously. It was former teacher and government Personnel Department employee Roy Harrigan of Virgin Gorda. Former speaker and businessman Keith Flax was elected the new deputy speaker.

The government side of the House are the following persons:

  • District 1 Rep. Andrew Fahie, Minister of Education and Culture;
  • District 2 Rep. Alvin Christopher;
  • District 3 Rep. Julian Fraser, Minister of Communications and Works;
  • District 4 Rep. Vincent Scatliffe; District 5 Rep. Elvis Harrigan;
  • District 6 Rep. Omar Hodge, Minister of Natural Resources and Labor;
  • District 8 Rep. Dancia Penn, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Social Development;
  • District 9 Rep. and Premier Ralph O'Neal, Minister of Finance;
  • Territorial At Large representative Keith Flax;
  • Territorial At Large Vernon Malone;
  • Territorial At Large representative Irene Penn-O'Neal.
The opposition side are:

House Speaker Harrigan accepted the position with humility and took the responsibility. He gave each member 5 minutes to speak.

Premier O'Neal noted that there were only 2 seats on the opposition, however, he mentioned that he would not tolerate them being bypassed.

Opposition Leader Smith stated that it was a great honor for his National Democratic Party government to have served the British Virgin Islands for the last 4 years. He also noted that despite the fact that the opposition is small in number, it will have a voice.

When congratulating the new government, he reminded the new constitution that elected representatives have greater responsibilities, especially as regards external affairs and police and crime.

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Figures for Chinese FDI: BVI Ranks Second with US$9.91 billion

The new statistics on foreign investments in Chinese economy during the first eight months of 2007 shows following figures: value of investments rose 12.79% from a year earlier to US$41.95 billion; 24,848 enterprises were set up in China by overseas investors, that is down 5.26% compared to the previous year.

The released information confirms the position of the British Virgin Islands among regions and countries that lead by the amount of foreign investments. As in the report published by the Ministry of Commerce of China in the mid of June, BVI remains in the second place after Hong Kong.

The amount of foreign investments for eight months of 2007 made US$14.1 billion from Hong Kong, US$9.91 billion from the British Virgin Islands, and much less – US$2.46 billion – from the third investor, the Republic of Korea. Other regions and countries being part of the top ten investors are Japan, Singapore, the United States, the Cayman Islands, the Samoan Islands, Taiwan Province, and Mauritius.

During the first eight months of 2007, investment value of the above-named top 10 countries made 86.55% of the total nationwide. The number of new US-invested enterprises was down 15.12%,while investment value increased by 0.77%, compared to the same period of 2006.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cable & Wireless Provides Broadband Upgrade in the Region

The leading full-service telecommunications provider in the Caribbean Cable & Wireless Ltd., which was recently involved in the legal dispute with Digicel in the British Virgin Islands, announced in the beginning of September the providing of major speed and value upgrades to its broadband customers in the Caribbean region. Chris Hetherington, Chief Executive Officer of Cable & Wireless Americas & Caribbean, informed that this launch is the result of a US$140 million investment in Cable & Wireless' Next Generation Network for the Americas & Caribbean region. The purpose of this three-year investment were physical and operational infrastructure improvements.

Cable & Wireless offers various plans for each specific group of customers, so people can choose the plan based on their needs. In addition to this launch of upgraded broadband services, this August launch signifies a shift to the name Cable & Wireless Broadband for all Broadband services across the region. According to Mr. George Lewis, VP Networks, the shift from XNet in some countries in the region to Cable & Wireless Broadband will take place over the next few months. In the British Virgin Islands, Cable & Wireless has always carried the Cable & Wireless Broadband branding.

Mr. Vance Lewis, Chief Executive of Cable & Wireless, has commented, “Now the starting level, minimum standard for Cable & Wireless Broadband customers in the BVI and across the Caribbean, is speed of up to 1 MEG – for the same low prices they paid before.”

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Opposition Leader Makes a Statement

There is some short period that passed after the general elections in the British Virgin Islands, and the National Democratic Party that was ruling party for the last 4 years became an opposition. Now we can say that the NDP and its leader Orlando Smith have granted some kind of rest to the party that won victory in the elections. However, already from this week the NDP has started to perform the functions of opposition. On September 5, 2007, the leader of NDP Orlando Smith has published announcement addressed to BVI community, where he stated that some of the promises made to the people of the territory were not fulfilled.

Among these promises there are the proposal of the Minister of Education concerning free books and free lunches in BVI schools. Mr. Smith noticed that during that time Minister of Education reviewed the proposal given earlier, by implementing more stringent guide lines for accessing the school book program.

Also, Orlando Smith denied the fact he was party to a discussion and agreement with the Metodist Church. Speaking about economy, he said he never informed about BVI experiencing excellent growth of its economy, with a 11% record last year; he also denied some other statements made by some international publications and organizations.

Here is the full version of the statement by leader of the opposition, Orlando Smith.