Thursday, November 25, 2010

Leaders of BVI and other Overseas Territories Met with UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister

Last week, leaders from the overseas territories met with the minister for the overseas territories of Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Henry Bellingham. On this meeting, during their visit in London on the annual meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC), they discussed the number of issues of mutual concern, including commercial and economic development of the overseas territories in the Caribbean region, transport, environment and passport issues. They also discussed possible UK assistance in the areas of criminal justice.

There was a separate session on financial services and the sector of public finance, where the UK and the Caribbean territories including British Virgin Islands agreed on the importance of complying with international financial sector standards on tax transparency, financial regulation and anti-money laundering/counter terrorism financing. They agreed that these standards must be applied without discrimination. It was also decided that overseas jurisdictions should take forward work on a framework for fiscal responsibility.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Approval of Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive to Launch Fund Industry in BVI

The Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, final terms of which were approved by the European Parliament on November 11, 2010, allows for the distribution of non-EU funds to professional investors in the European Union. There are two methods of distribution, one of them, the private-placement regime, has been traditional in the EU for non-EU funds, and it will remain in place until 2018. It is proposed that in 2015 it will transition to allow full access to EU passport marketing regime to non-EU funds on the same terms as EU funds. EU funds will become eligible for a passport in 2013. This method, along with the alternative method of the EU marketing passport system, will be subject to similar conditions. These conditions include the need for supervisory co-operation agreements between the regulator of the EU member state in which a fund is being marketed and the regulator of both the fund manager and the fund.

Walkers, the leading international financial centre law firm, welcomed the confirmation of the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive and the removal of uncertainty for non-EU fund managers marketing non-EU funds in the European Union. According to Walkers, this is a very positive development for investment funds industry in the BVI, Cayman Islands and Jersey. Rod Palmer, partner and Global Head of Investment Funds with Walkers, said that "The confirmation that non-EU fund managers will be able to continue marketing Cayman Islands, BVI and Jersey funds to professional European investors is excellent news for the industry."

Richard May, Walker's partner based in the BVI, said that the Cayman Islands, BVI and Jersey are highly rated by the FATF in respect to their anti-money laundering regimes, so they will not have to make any changes in their funds' operations to comply with the Directive.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BVI Premier Attends OTCC Meeting in London

Premier Hon. Ralph T. O´Neal has come to London to take part in the annual meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC). The delegation of the BVI Premier includes Dr. the Honourable Vincent Scatliffe, Financial Secretary, Mr. Neil Smith, Assistant Secretary for external affairs in the Premier´s Office Ms. Najan Christopher and personal assistant to the Premier Ms. Marsha-Ann Gumbs.

At the OTCC meeting, the questions of UK/OT relationship will be discussed, as well as the issues of financial services and public finance, the questions of passport and identity, and many others.

During his visit, Ralph O'Neal along with heads of UK Overseas Territories will have an audience with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Also, the BVI Premier will also have a bilateral meeting with Parliamentary Undersecretary of State Hon. Henry Bellingham. Before his return, he will also meet the BVI students in London.

This OTCC Meeting will be the first opportunity for Overseas Territories to meet collectively with the Parliamentary Undersecretary of State and UK Minister for Overseas Territories since the formation of the new government in the UK.

On November 10-12, the BVI Premier also visited the Czech Republic.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Budget Crticised by BVI Opposition

The Leader of the Opposition of the British Virgin Islands, Dr Orlando Smith, came out with the critics of Premier Ralph O'Neal budget presentation. Mr Smith rated the Budget Address a six out of ten points and said that the Premier has failed to tell, among other things, about the new ideas how to insulate the territory from the global economic downturn and how to encourage local or foreign investments, even from the special committee chaired by the premier, which is to recommend new revenue measures for the territory.

The budget will be discussed by the heads of each ministry, department, unit and statutory board between November 22 and December 7.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Next Year Budget Announced by BVI Premier

On Thursday, the projected revenue budget and fiscal plans for the next year were announced by the Premier of the British Virgin Islands and the Minister of Finance Hon. Ralph O'Neal. He disclosed that the next year budget will be US$287,884,000, while the operational expenditure will be US$260,051,000. The surplus of US$27,832,000 is planned to be spent on development, emergency disaster, pension, contingencies and repairs and renewal funds.

In his speech on the presentation of the budget during the Third Sitting of the Fourth Session of the House of Assembly, Ralph O'Neal spoke about the need to establish a long-term fiscal strategy, and about the increase in fees charged for services and the enhancement of the financial services and tourism project. Since the theme of this year's budget is “From Whence We've Come,” the Premier said that the territory has done well, “meriting the resilience of the people in the face of the devastating effects of the fiscal and economic crisis during the past two years.”

It is expected that the budget will be discussed later this month and early next month before the commencement of the budget debate on December 22 and 23.