Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BVI Named a Major Financial Centre by The Economist

In a special report by The Economist, a well known weekly news magazine publishing reports on politics, economics, business and finance, BVI has been recognized as a major financial centre playing a strong role in the global economy. It is stated in the report that offshore financial centres have recently been under attack but have been resilient to it, and the future of respected international finance centres like the British Virgin Islands and their staying in business is guaranteed.

The report, named “Storm survivors”, also acknowledges the importance of Asia to the BVI jurisdiction, as the BVI companies are used for initial public offerings and international investments. Among the reasons why investors are using the BVI for international arbitrage, there are highlighted the ease of raising funds, cheaper access to capital markets, speed of setting up a company (or investment vehicle) and access to reliable courts

The executive director of the BVI International Finance Centre Elise Donovan commented on the report, saying that “The Economist has highlighted some positive attributes about the BVI. It has shown us in a true light as a stable, well regulated and neutral jurisdiction which makes a significant contribution to the liquidity of the global economy.”

She also said some words on the role of Asian market for the BVI: “Asia is of the utmost importance to us. In less than 10 years, China will be the largest economy in the world. We have built a strong relationship with China and we must continue to build on those foundations and ensure the BVI remains an attractive proposition for Asian businesses.”

Monday, February 18, 2013

Financial Services Day Held by BVI International Finance Centre

Last week, the BVI International Finance Centre hosted Financial Services Day, as part of the BVI Senior Students Career Expo which took place on February 11-14 at the Multipurpose Sports Complex. Financial Services Day has the aim to educate secondary school students on the importance of the BVI financial services industry and its many career opportunities.

The Exhibitors of the Financial Services Day included key industry players – the Financial Services Commission, BVI Bank Association, BVI Association of Professional Accountants, BVI Bar Association, Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, Financial Investigation Agency, BVI Airports Authority, Restructuring and Insolvency Specialists Association, Association of Registered Agents, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, and insurance companies.

IFC Executive Director Ms. Elise Donovan in her introductory remarks spoke about the contribution of the financial industry to the economy of the Territory, stating that “more than 60 percent of the revenues that goes into the Government’s Treasury come from financial services.” She encouraged students to consider careers in the financial services sector, which is so important to the British Virgin Islands.

The BVI IFC hosted the BVI Senior Students Career Expo beginning from 2007, in previous years this was held only for students of the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS).

Monday, February 11, 2013

BVI Premier Speaks on the Development of Financial Services Industry

The Premier and Minister for Finance of the British Virgin Islands Orlando Smith had discussed the future of the BVI as a financial centre with business leaders. He said that the BVI government has the aim to strengthen the position of the territory as a leading offshore financial centre that adheres to international standards, and to set the BVI apart from its competitors by developing innovative new offerings.

The Premier and Minister for Finance noted that the BVI, which once had unique position in the world of financial services, now has a community of competitors in this niche, as well as in tourism sector. He said that the territory must “rise to the challenges of keeping the twin pillars of economy not only sturdy but resilient.” By words of the Premier, the BVI should review its business models, and to improve or increase the products offered, because what once was an “extraordinary idea,” has now become “the new normal.”

Orlando Smith pointed to changing international standards on tax transparency and information exchange. He stressed that the BVI government must increase its efforts to inform the international community on all the steps taken by the jurisdiction to adopt leading international standards and improve co-operation with tax authorities of other countries. Also, he said that particularly close attention should be focused on the “correctly themed marketing of our tourism and financial services products, and currently efforts are fully underway to rebrand the BVI product."

To boost the ties of the BVI territory with emerging markets, particularly Asian, the BVI government plans to establish a representative office in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

BVI Government Signed Contract with LGS and Associates

The Government of the British Virgin Islands signed a contract worth US$100,000 with a financial industry consultancy firm LGS and Associates, which is headed by the financial industry expert Mrs. Lorna Smith

The information about the signing of the contract in December 2012 was confirmed by the Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith and by Mrs. Smith herself, who stated that the contract is not a new assignment since she has been providing services to the BVI governments, including under the Virgin Islands Party administration. 

Mrs. Smith recently attended the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information. She also took part in the negotiations concerning tax treaties between OECD countries and OECS countries, all of which have been put on the OECD ‘white list’. She also takes the post of Chairperson of the Financial Services Business Development Committee, whose task is to maintain the image of the British Virgin Islands as a top international finance centre, identifying new and emerging markets and recommending legislation for introduction and support of new and existing products and services.

Mrs. Smith assisted in the BVI passing phase I review process on global transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes, and, in her own words, continues to work to ensure that the BVI moves phase II of the review process.