Dr Wheatley said the legislation seeks to modernise and streamline the registration process and remove unnecessary impediments from the system and enhance the overall efficiency of the process.
He added that he hopes it creates an environment that is more business-friendly and inviting to people who wish to engage in economic activities in the Virgin Islands.
“Increased participation and activity in the economy helps our economy to provide opportunities for our residents and Virgin Islanders. It helps our economy to grow, expand and develop and thereby create more opportunities while also increasing our resilience by promoting diversification,” Dr Wheatley said.
“You see as business activity increases, it triggers an increase in the traditional goods and services but as these activities expand you will see other demands and opportunities arise and this is where the entrepreneurial eye and the entrepreneurial spirit of our Virgin Islands people are known for coming into play. Spotting those new and emerging opportunities and jumping on them,” the Finance Minister said.
The Premier explained it has been a long-running conversation that the territory’s economy needs to diversify and expand by creating new industries and new areas of business activities. He added the Virgin Islands need to attract and develop more business and new businesses with locals.
“Of course, highly productive, and meaningfully engaged and thereby benefiting from their economy. Yes, we have a strong tourism product and a strong tourism industry which is one of our main economic drivers. Yes, we also have a strong financial services industry with a world-class product which is our second main engine. But because we have two powerful engines generating income and driving our economy, it does not mean we must sit back and say that is enough because it is not enough; especially in a dynamic and competitive global and regional economy,” Dr Wheatley said.
He admitted the shocks from the 2017 hurricanes and floods and the recent impacts of COVID-19 on international travel and tourism have put a spotlight on how risky it is for an economy to be highly dependent on a small number of revenue streams.
“Similarly, we have seen threats to our financial services industries, we have seen the revenues dip when certain changes are made to how the industry operates, not just in the Virgin Islands but how it operates in other jurisdictions as well. We have weathered the storms but that is not enough,” the Finance Minister added
“We must ensure our tourism and financial services remain vibrant and competitive, but we must look at what new opportunities can be created within those industries and what other opportunities and industries we can add to that basket. That is why we must look at the ease and efficiency of doing business in the Virgin Islands and how it compares with the ease of doing business in other jurisdictions,” Premier Wheatley continued.
The Premier said it is important to encourage competitiveness because the businesses the territory hopes to attract and develop in the Virgin Islands may be pushed to other jurisdictions because the territory does not offer a competitive business environment.
“Competitiveness is not just about price but about value and quality of experience. It is about fairness, accountability and integrity of the system and balance against unnecessary impediments,” Dr Wheatley said.