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A VIEW BEYOND THE HORIZON

growing constituency to facilitate the transfer of business intelligence and capital. To deny the intense pressure that the EU’s economic substance requirements place upon the BVI’s domestic economy is foolhardy. All initiatives mentioned throughout this article are interlaced with the country’s ability to realise onthe-ground substance—infrastructure, education, human capital, direct investment, change management. Without reliable high-speed internet or modern and effective transportation systems, the BVI simply cannot attract global businesses. And, without increased economic substance, a very critical sector of the domestic economy is threatened—BVI financial services. LABOUR & IMMIGRATION REFORM

trained to implement such systems. Government could consider initiatives such as improved teacher education opportunities, greater access to professional development programs on an ongoing basis, and rewards for exceptional teacher performance. These types of programs will not only bring immediate benefits for students, but will help BVI schools retain excellent teachers and attract new generations of top performers. Finally, to develop effective educational infrastructure, provocative questions must be asked and answered. For example, could the system benefit from single sex education? Can investment in foreign language education yield a competitive advantage to BVI businesses in this increasingly interlinked, global economic environment? In Curacao, for example, a majority speaks four languages, English, Dutch, Spanish, and Papiamento; three are official languages. How might educators increase capacity in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics? What resources do we have in place and what others are needed to achieve STEM goals? If the BVI does not start asking and answering the tough questions, it may miss a profound opportunity to build out its human capital. Competition demands adaption and education is not an area for indifference. TECHNOLOGY

Technology touches every aspect of our lives. Investment directed to expanding the availability of super high-speed internet—and lowering its costs to end users—is crucial for attracting foreign direct investment. The tourism sector, for example, which has room to grow, needs reliable highspeed internet to complete resort upgrades and initiate new development. An expansion of this industry would spread economic benefits across the Territory. The sector showed much promise with visitor numbers more than doubling between 2014 and 2016[3] from 513,118 to 1,124,380. Surely, every area of the BVI economy would benefit from improved connectivity, including homes, hospitals, local businesses, and schools. TRANSPORTATION AND TECHNOLOGY

Beyond the internet, transportation infrastructure is a major obstacle to improving BVI’s global position in three key areas: tourism, direct investment, and economic substance. Options need to be explored to make transportation in, out, and across the BVI and the Virgin Islands

easier, more efficient, and more reliable. Technology can lead the way. Throughout the world, competitors are using technologies to guide transportation infrastructure decisions. Data extracted from connected systems and software help governments and businesses make better choices when determining timing, capacity, and methods for transporting people and goods. It also assists in making smart decisions on where to invest resources. For example, would the greatest return on investment lie in an airport expansion on Tortola or in hourly highspeed ferries from St. Thomas serving Tortola and Virgin Gorda? Building an airport on Tortola does not guarantee that transportation patterns will change. Cost and availability of flights, speed and efficiency of implementation, and other possible scenarios are critical data points to add to the equation. Similarly, BVI could seek out transportation technologies and policy innovations to relieve parking issues and congestion within Road Town, and to improve transportation and commerce between each island. Of course, all progress requires capital, but funding should not be the stumbling block. While access to international capital in grants and loans must be evaluated, Government can also take advantage of resources within its shores. Many high-net-worth individuals who control market-leading, international companies hold significant investment in the BVI. Government could pursue working relationships within this

Everyone would agree that labour and immigration reform cannot be taken lightly, but it can be addressed effectively to open doors and fill in gaps. The BVI can expand economic opportunity, build schools, accelerate learning, and train and reward teachers for their success, but until then, how will it attract new companies required to prove economic substance demanded by the EU? Where will they get the employees they need to run their high tech systems or manage their complex organisations? Businesses need not only physical infrastructure, they need human infrastructure—talent and skill. Labour and immigration reform can meet these challenges. Like any change that occurs in an organisation, having an open mindset to labour and immigration reform is critical. As a country, the BVI has proven its resilience in the wake of storms, and more. With that same fortitude, it can approach reform because the outcome will leave the country in a better place— one that shouts we are excellent, we are adaptive, and, we are open for business on a global platform. Change is less a matter of pushing through discrete projects and more about fostering an environment and mindset that enables it. As the BVI sails through the headwinds, without a doubt it will do so by employing informed, deliberate, and managed change across the “organisation.” The alternative is not an option. BVI must take every opportunity to adapt and leave a thriving legacy for its children, their children’s children, and beyond. | BB

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Profile for Business BVI

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

Business BVI July 2019  

The theme for the July 2019 edition is ‘A View Beyond the Horizon’, which is intended to reflect where the territory is post 2017, while at...

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