Business BVI April 2021

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FEATURES 18

BUSINESS

Hong Kong 2047: PLC or PRC? By RAY WEARMOUTH

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BUSINESS

US-China trade wars: Beware the collateral damage By CLARE LECKIE, REBECCA MUNRO AND MARK PRAGNELL

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BUSINESS

POINT COUNTER POINT Publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership: Are they necessary? By ELISE DONOVAN, ROBERT BRIANT AND MARTÍN LITWAK

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BUSINESS

BVI Constitutional Reform and the future of self-government By BENITO WHEATLEY

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THE DECIDER

Chris Yates An investor conversation


“WHAT A TIME TO BE A WOMAN” p.71

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“What a time to be a woman! We are finally getting closer towards the precipice of equality and it is a great feeling. I am gratified and humbled to have been afforded the privilege to author the sectional preface of Business BVI, which features and is dedicated to Women in Leadership roles in The British Virgin Islands. This editorial, which profiles some 23 women in the private and public sectors is very timely, as less than a year ago, I was scheduled to give a presentation at a conference called Women Striving for Success. That was not to be, as COVID-19 reared its ugly and fearsome head out of nowhere and changed our world. My presentation was to be entitled ‘Daring Greatly while Navigating the Waves.’ In retrospect, the time was not quite right for that... but the time is now…and I am delighted to pen this editorial.”

OPPOSITE PAGE:

THIS PAGE:

Elise Donovan, p.72

Lorna Smith, p.94 Tanya Cassie-Parker, p.96 Harmonie Brewley-Massiah, p.98 Laura Fox, p.100 Petrona Davies, p.102 Hon. Shereen Flax-Charles, p.104 Katherine A. Smith, p.106 Lisa Lou, p.108 Julia Shamini Chase, p.110 Shaina M. Smith-Archer, p.112 Alivern Smith-Harrigan, p.114 Sabinah Clement, p.116

Hon. Dawn J. Smith, p.74 Janice Skelton, p.76 Sharon Flax-Brutus, p.78 Tiffany R. Scatliffe Esprit, p.80 Jennifer Potter, p.82 Lisa E. Penn-Lettsome, p.84 Sandra I. Ward, p.86 Vanessa King, p.88 Ayana Glasgow-Liburd, p.90 Adenike Sicard, p,92

-SHARON FLAX-BRUTUS

BUSINESSBVIMAGAZINE.COM

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SINCLAIRS

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Contents BUSINESS

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26

MASTHEAD

Unlocking BVI opportunity for the decade ahead VISTRA 2030 REPORT

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Strengthening US-Caribbean relations in the Biden era

OPENING REMARKS

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Construction sector roundup & projection for 2021

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44

CONTRIBUTORS

Economic crises: The new normal? Towards building a resilient BVI economy ECONOMIC IMPACT AND OUTLOOK

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BUSINESS

TOURISM

and regained freedoms

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TOURISM and regained freedoms

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The BVI top dozen: Vacation villa escapes

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120

R E A L E S TAT E

Summer sailing camps: A bespoke summer adventure for teens since the ‘70s

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What’s trending in villa design at a local & international level

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B U S I N E S S BV I GUIDES

REAL ESTATE

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The outlook for real estate

120

THE DECIDER

BUSINESS BVI GUIDES

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BVI fast facts

BUSINESSBVIMAGAZINE.COM

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Opening Remarks Russell Harrigan MANAGING EDITOR & CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER

Oyster Publications LTD

A Year Beyond Challenging

PUBLISHER

Portia Harrigan PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR

Claire L. Shefchik SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Louie Acantilado Oyster Design Team CREATIVE

Russell Harrigan ADVERTISING

Portia Harrigan BUSINESSBVIMAGAZINE.COM

Cover illustration by Oyster design team

Business BVI is a bi-annual magazine published by Oyster Publications LTD P.O. Box 3369, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands Tel: 284-494-8011 Fax: 284-494-3066 www.oysterbvi.com Email: info@oysterbvi.com Please send comments and address changes to this address.

Business BVI and Oyster Publications LTD are divisions of Oyster Global Marketing Group. www.businessbvimagazine.com All information in this publication has been carefully collected and prepared, but it still remains subject to change and correction. Use this content for general guidance only and seek extra assistance from a professional adviser with regard to any specific matters. Copyright reserved. None of the contents in this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. These articles do not constitute tax or legal advice, and no action should be taken based on the information in these documents without first consulting suitable tax or legal advisers. No liability for actions taken, or in action, based on the information in these articles, will be accepted.

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There is a much used adage that says - It is hard to predict the future and even more difficult to understand the present - which is top of mind these days, when I engage with friends or business colleagues about where our beloved BVI is heading. As I write these remarks, we seem to have entered a “New Normal” where we now coexist with a vortex of interminable crises. Over the last four years we’ve moved from the hurricanes of 2017 to our current preoccupation with COVID-19, with a Commission of Inquiry next in the holding pattern. Each seeming to outdo the level of existential threat visited upon us by its predecessor. There seems to be a sustained onslaught on our collective national psyche not to mention the individual. Who in their right mind would have imagined a year ago, that we were about to face an invisible foe, set to totally upend life on the planet as we knew it, without any kind of physical aggression. For us here in the BVI, this was about to take place just when we had finally hit our stride in our economic recovery from the ravages of Irma and her sibling. I can still remember saying to friends that COVID had the hallmarks to be far more challenging than the visit by those two notorious sisters from hell. COVID while unseen, moved with lightening speed, attacking the global population principally on two fronts, health and economics. Hence, it demanded nothing less than a steadfast evolving response strategy. On the health side, we have stepped up to the plate. While in the interest of space and time, I will leave it to the historians to reflect on the effectiveness of our overall national response strategy, I would say that the initial first cut of history on the economic front, is giving us the kind of grades, that in my school days I dreaded taking home to my late mom. As we go to press, I have a distinct sense that there is light at the end of the COVID tunnel, after many false starts at the global and local levels. So, does this mean that pre-COVID normalcy is at hand? No, there is no going back to that level of certainty. Instead, I believe we are now entering a post COVID ecosystem where strategic patience will be the order of the day, as we build a new normalcy. The light at the end of the tunnel and my related optimism, are both fuelled and informed by the deepening vaccination drive and the related positive signs of economic recovery, particularly in the United States, which has received a strong stimulative jab by the new Biden administration, with more on the way. These two factors coupled with pent up demand for travel in the US, all things being equal, point to a sustained period of potential growth, high octane for our tourism locomotive as it pulls the local economy out of a deep recession. This is predicated on the full reopening of the borders and tourism in April as promised, notwithstanding our earlier experience with many false starts.

Like so many aspects of life in the COVID era, the frequency of publishing Business BVI has been disrupted, making this our first edition since the pandemic crossed our shores last March. We are very pleased to be back. For this edition, we return to a feature we did nearly ten years ago, looking at some of the leading women in the private and public sectors, women who in their quiet way contribute significantly to the wellbeing of the BVI. A timely piece given women’s global ascendancy in so many spheres of business, commerce and yes political life. It clearly emerged early in the pandemic, that the countries where women were in charge were among the first to successfully develop the architecture of an approach to manage the pandemic. Kamala Harris becoming the first female vice president of the United States was a powerful accomplishment that everyone could celebrate. For this feature - What A Time To Be A Woman (p.71) we profile 23 women (our pick) and we partnered with three dynamic women to assist with the same; Sharon Flax Brutus (p.16) did our guest editorial for the feature, Carolina Ansaldo (p.17) photography and Elise Donovan (p.16), BVI Finance assisted given that a high number of the women are from the financial services sector, where they make a significant contribution. We also dig deeper into global trade and the key players and happenings on that stage. We interrogated changes in Hong Kong, see - Hong Kong 2047:PLC or PRC? (p.18), the decoupling of the US and China US-China Trade Wars: Beware the Collateral Damage (p.22) and public accessible registers - Publicly Accessible Registers of Beneficial Ownership: Are they Necessary? (p.30). On the home front, we looked at options for constitutional advancement, see BVI Constitutional Reform and the Future of SelfGovernment (p.42), The BVI Top Dozen Vacation Villa Escapes (p.50), the ever popular The Outlook for Real Estate (p.120) and our Investor Conversation with Chris Yates (p.146). It is impossible to end without acknowledging and congratulating Robert A. Mathavious, a fully home grown global star on the financial services stage on his retirement as Managing Director & CEO of the BVI FSC, after a most successful public service career. Only a very small handful of persons may, and I stress may have contributed more directly to the economic wellbeing of these islands over the last two plus decades. More to come on Robert and his voluminous contribution. Enjoy! Please let us have your feedback, questions and comments at russellharrigan@gmail.com.

Russell Harrigan MANAGING EDITOR & CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER


Smithsgore


CONTRIBUTORS Introducing some of the talented individuals whose hard work and creativity helped us to produce this edition.

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Benito Wheatley

STRENGTHENING US-CARIBBEAN RELATIONSHIP IN THE BIDEN ERA (p.36) BVI CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM AND THE FUTURE OF SELF GOVERNMENT (p.42) Benito Wheatley is a Policy Fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge where he is examining the role of small jurisdictions in the world economy. He is currently the BVI Special Envoy for United Nations matters. He was formerly the BVI Representative to the UK and EU, during which time he served as the Territory’s chief diplomat and Director of the BVI London Office, as well as Senior International Strategist in the Premier’s Office with responsibility for UN and the Commonwealth. Benito holds a Master of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Strategy from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Morehouse College. Ben is no stranger to these pages and in this edition, he contributes two timely articles looking at the prospects for US - Caribbean Relations in the Biden Era and right out of the local headlines, options for Constitutional Reform in the Territory. .

Edward Childs

THE OUTLOOK FOR REAL ESTATE (p.120 ) Edward Childs is our resident prognosticator on all things real estate in the BVI. His insight is well informed by in-depth research and analysis and is well written, graphically augmented with timely statistics to inform anyone looking at engaging in the real estate market locally, at an individual or investor level. Ed’s advice is critical in informing your final decision be it residential, a second vacation villa or the development of a top tier resort, marina or private island. In our April edition, Edward looks at the real estate sector as it segue from the post hurricane redevelopment right into the eye of the global COVID-19 Pandemic. Enjoy!

Patlian Johnson ECONOMIC CRISIS: THE NEW 3.

NORMAL? TOWARDS BUILDING A RESILIENT BVI ECONOMY ECONOMIC OUTLOOK AND IMPACT (p.44) BVI FAST FACTS (p.138)

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In addition to her yeoman’s role of ensuring that our Fast Fact Guide is current and informed, in this edition, Patlian also looks at the question of whether or not economic crisis are now the new normal and what is required to rebuild the BVI economy in a resilient manner. A timely examination given what seems to be our rolling economic challenges emanating form the hurricanes of 2017 and now the pandemic and the related deep economic downturn.

Marvin E Flax CONSTRUCTION SECTOR ROUNDUP 4.

& PROJECTION FOR 2021 (p.38)

The construction sector in the BVI will face many challenges in 2021 as the economy moves into the post pandemic phase but the sector is poised for a comeback. The sector continues to be a key driver of economic growth in the territory, thus Business BVI now turns to Marvin E. Flax a British Virgin Islander and Managing Director of OBMI here in the BVI for a read of the sector’s tea leaves. Marvin’s piece complements the Real Estate Outlook. He is instrumental in cultivating the local architectural expertise within the BVI to enhance OBMI’s Centre of Excellence framework. He was the Project Architect on notable projects such as the rebuild and renovation of The Rosewood Little Dix Bay Hotel on Virgin Gorda, The Westin Hotel Sunset Bay conversion in St John, USVI and several high-end residential estates including Nora Hazel Point in the Brandywine Bay area of Tortola, BVI and the Neveah Residence in Anguilla.

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Sharon Flax Brutus WHAT A TIME TO BE A WOMAN (p.71)

We are very pleased to welcome Sharon Flax Brutus to the pages of Business BVI as our Contributing Editor for our feature article which profiles some 23 leading women in the private and public sectors in the BVI. Needless to say, Sharon has graced our pages many times since the inception of the magazine from the other side of the table as she does again in this edition. She is a seasoned tourism and travel industry professional and proud BVI national having recently joined Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals and Leverick Bay Resort & Marina as Director of Operations. She assumes this new challenge after a most successful 7 plus years repositioning the BVI tourism brand on the global stage as the territory’s Director of Tourism. Sharon is passionate about the advancement of women and is a member of the International Federation of Professional Women and speaks often on Women’s issues.

Robert Briant

THE CASE FOR PUBLIC REGISTERS (p.32) Robert Briant is no stranger to Business BVI having contributed several articles to the magazine and also as a top tier speaker at many of our related conferences over the years. We welcome him back to our pages and in this edition, we asked him to contribute to our article - Point Counter Point - Publicly accessible registers of Beneficial Ownership: Are They necessary? by making the case for Public Registers. Robert is a Partner and Head of the Corporate department in the BVI office of CONYERS. Robert joined CONYERS in 1994 and is highly regarded for his extensive experience in all aspects of corporate and commercial law. He is consistently recognized in the top tier in Chambers Global, Legal 500 and IFLR1000.

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Elise Donovan

OVERVIEW TO OUR ARTICLE ON: POINT COUNTER POINT - PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE REGISTERS OF BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP: ARE THEY NECESSARY? (p.30) “The debate on whether publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership of companies are necessary is far from settled. The advocates, however, appear to be triumphing, not because they have provided convincing arguments to support their position, but because they wield the political clout and dominance to coerce those, like some of the British Overseas Territories (BOTs), to comply with their demands”. With this introduction, Elise Donovan eloquently sets the stage for the debate on the evolving and ongoing topic of public registers. Elise is the chief executive officer of BVI Finance, the organisation representing the British Virgin Islands’ (BVI) financial services sector. In this position, she is responsible for spearheading the drive to bring global attention to the jurisdiction’s competitive advantages, and to promote the BVI as one of the world’s leading international financial centres to facilitate global trade and investment.

OBMI

WHAT’S TRENDING IN VILLA DESIGN AT THE LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVEL (p.62)

One of the initial longterm transformations emanating globally from the pandemic, is the migration of the well heeled from cities and other locales to destinations where space is not just a luxury but a way of life. It is driven by the need for social distancing. Island tourism destinations such as the BVI could potentially see significant growth from this trend, as it adds a new dimension for the expansion of the extended stay visitor segment. We turned to OBMI to explore this how this trend is influencing villa design. OBMI is a global architecture firm widely celebrated for creating distinctive designs for high-end hotels, luxury private residences, and engaging urban areas. Through several global design studios, OBMI offer an integrated approach that combines responsive design strategies, the latest innovations, and technical expertise to create experientially memorable, environmentally responsible, and financially successful destinations.

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Martin Litwak EXPLAINING MY POSITION 9.

AGAINST PUBLIC REGISTERS OF ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNERS (p.34)

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Ray Wearmouth

HONG KONG 2047: PLC OR PRC? (p.18)

“But as it moves closer and closer to 2047 will it continue to be a genuine international finance centre, operating like a global PLC with meaningful commercial independence from China, or will it be subsumed by China, and thus become a component part of the PRC? In order to consider some possible answers to that difficult question, we will briefly go back to 1997, spend some time reviewing Hong Kong’s current trading dynamics, reflect on the projected 2047 global economic outlook and finally offer some thoughts on Hong Kong in 2047. As a long-standing and well-established participant in the Hong Kong market, the British Virgin Islands has a vested interest in understanding the likely outcomes for Hong Kong as it continues this 50 year journey.” A direct quote from our article on Hong Kong, which is intended to dig deeper into the ongoing changes in HK. As we have done on many occasions over the last decade, we turned to Ray Wearmouth for his sage insight for this article. Ray needs no introduction. He is globally recognised as being one of the BVI’s leading corporate, finance and restructuring lawyers. A must read.

For a view against Public Registers for our article - Point Counter Point - Publicly accessible registers of Beneficial Ownership: Are They necessary? we turned to Martin Litwak, a position he has long championed. We welcome his introductory article. A seasoned senior author, speaker and trust and wealth structuring professional, Martin is a lawyer specializing in wealth structuring and investment funds. He is the founder and CEO of Untitled a boutique law firm and the first legal family office of the Americas. Litwak also sits on several international Boards and has been a noted subject matter expert and speaker in the financial services sector. He is also the CEO of Smart Structuring, a blockchain interface that allows the trustee to store (and to manage) trusts in a perpetual, secure, transparent manner. He is a solicitor in both England & Wales and the BVI and has focused on providing advice to high net worth (HNW), ultra-high net worth (UHNW) and institutional families domiciled in Latin America.

Simon Filmer UNLOCKING BVI OPPORTUNITY 12.

FOR THE DECADE AHEAD : VISTRA 2030 REPORT (p.26)

Mike Rowe SUMMER SAILING CAMPS - A 10.

VISTRA’s latest industry survey, VISTRA 2030, the 10th anniversary of its industry-leading research, shows a trending downwards of offshore centres in its jurisdiction rankings, where respondents rate the importance of onshore, midshore and offshore financial centres. Simon Filmer explains what this means for the BVI and other established jurisdictions, and why he thinks the future of offshore is secure as global business grows more sophisticated and seeks locations with solid reputations and sound legal structures. Simon is currently the Global Lead, Company Formation at VISTRA, with more than 20 years of senior management experience in the fiduciary services industry and has considerable experience in the areas of corporate business, trusts and investment business. Simon is regularly consulted by regulators and governments on financial services matters, and has served on numerous industry committees, especially in the BVI. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and is recognized as a thought leader. He was born and educated in the UK, is a long-term resident of the BVI, and is currently seconded to the UAE.

The Pragmatix Team

Mark Pragnell, director of

Since the early 1970s, residents recall the annual trek of hundreds of kids primarily Americans, visiting the BVI for a bespoke experience, Summer Sailing Camp. Keen on sharing the development of this camp we turned to a tourism ombudsman, Mike Rowe. Mike’s passion for the ocean began on the beaches of Falmouth in the UK. At 17 he joined the Merchant Navy and rose to First Officer, prior to relocating to the USA in 1983 taking up a marketing position.

Eager to take his management and leadership experience in a different direction he embarked on a scuba career, enabling him to combine his love of teaching, being on the water and his marketing skills eventually becoming the Course Director for Sail Caribbean and Sail Caribbean Divers. Mike relocated to the BVI in 2000, served on the BVITB, President of the BVI Dive Operators Association and as Vice President of VISAR. In 2018 Mike returned to the USA with his wife Melisande and most recently served as a Marine and Dive Consultant for the BVITB.

BE A WOMAN (p.10, 71)

Pragmatix Advisory, has over 25 years’ experience as a macroeconomics consultant and forecaster. He has worked with a number of island governments, promotional bodies and businesses, and has led seminal research to explain and quantify the value of International Finance Centres, including British Virgin Islands.

Rebecca Munro is a consultant at Pragmatix Advisory focusing on research into island and rural economics, international finance centres, and the hospitality and tourism sector.

Clare Leckie is a consultant at Pragmatix Advisory, where she is responsible for economic and business modelling, as well as research into impact and social investment.

US-CHINA TRADE WARS:

BEWARE THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE (p.22)

BESPOKE SUMMER ADVENTURE FOR TEENS SINCE THE ’70s (p.58)

14. Carolina Ansaldo PHOTOGRAPHER, WHAT A TIME TO

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“The danger of this particular trade war is not that it will directly dent the global economy in any irreparable manner. Trade between the United States and China has been lopsided for decades. Since trade between the two nations took off last century, the United States has run a significant trade deficit.” To interrogate the decoupling of the US and China from a trade perspective and its global implications, we turned to Mark Pragnell and his team at Pragmatrix Advisory. Mark is no stranger to Business BVI having written for the magazine’s post Irma edition. Mark founded Pragmatix Advisory to help businesses, trade associations and public bodies around the world overcome their biggest challenges through the intelligent and pragmatic use of research and analysis.

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More than a decade ago Business BVI did a feature on leading women in business and government, in what we then branded as Women of Power. Last year during the many lockdowns, as Managing Editor, I got in my not so small head the idea of doing another such feature on our pick of the leading women in the private and public sectors, this time more than doubling our previous count to some 23 women. To be honest I bit off more than I assumed I could chew. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great assignment. It just involved a lot more work than anticipated given that I insisted on all original photography. Hence a photographer with the passion and diligence was critical.

After a careful selection process, we opted for Carolina Ansaldo who was up to the mission in every respect; patience, professionalism, ability to anticipate with a sixth sense for spontaneity and the opportunity such an opening presents. Argentinian, Carolina moved here with her family in 2016 to start a new chapter in their lives. She believes living surrounded by nature brought her family a wonderful blessing. Photography is a passion that has connected her with amazing and inspirational people. For her, photography is about connecting and capturing souls, stories, special moments and feelings.

BUSINESSBVIMAGAZINE.COM

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Business


G LOBA L B US I NE S S

GLOBAL BUSINESS

Hong Kong 2047: PLC or PRC? RAY WEARMOUTH

Hong Kong provides China with valuable access to unrestricted capital in a very efficient way and while it could find other ways to satisfy that demand, it would seem likely that China will have no interest or cause to change how Hong Kong operates overall in the lead up to 2047.

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erhaps for the first time in its unique and vaunted history as an elite international finance and trading centre, 2020 brought into sharp focus some core fundamental questions over Hong Kong’s long term future. Dealing with a global pandemic seemed to be a less existential threat or discussion point than reflecting on a period of pro-democracy protests and the new National Security Law (Security Law) introduced by China on 1 July 2020. Hong Kong’s envious position in world trade had long been the subject of some inevitable but tacit-only questioning over what would happen in 2047. However, the new Security Law, which resulted in international rebukes and placeholder sanctions, put all questions and deliberations out in the open. Hong Kong has long been regarded as having a corporatelike existence and aura about it. If financial centres were companies, it would be a ground-breaking, iconic blue chip PLC. Hong Kong’s own stock exchange is perhaps the most emblematic and symbolic representation of what the wider financial centre itself looks like. East meets west providing all participants with almost perfect market conditions. Access to their essential needs in a long established, stable trading place which is regulated effectively and efficiently. Free capital movement without currency control, and via a US dollarpegged exchangeable currency. Hong Kong has served its global market participants to great aplomb for the longest time. But as it moves closer and closer to 2047 will it continue to be a genuine international finance centre, operating like a global PLC with meaningful commercial independence from China, or will it be subsumed by China, and thus become a component part of the PRC? In order to consider some possible answers to that difficult question, we will briefly go back to 1997, spend some time reviewing Hong Kong’s current trading dynamics, reflect on the projected 2047 global economic outlook and finally offer some thoughts on Hong Kong in 2047. As a long-standing and well-established participant in the Hong Kong market, the British Virgin Islands has a vested interest in understanding the likely outcomes for Hong Kong as it continues this 50 year journey.

BUSINESSBVIMAGAZINE.COM

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Business

1997 – One country, two systems The 1997 handover saw the United Kingdom end its 156 year administrative sovereignty of Hong Kong, which became a special administrative region of China on 1 July 1997. The “one country, two systems” principle agreed by the United Kingdom and China provided that China’s socialist system would not be practised in Hong Kong for 50 years, thus leaving Hong Kong’s prevailing capitalist system, and life more generally, unchanged until 2047. These principles were enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law which came into force on 1 July 1997. The Basic Law provides that Hong Kong would retain its own legislative system for 50 years and the rights and freedoms of residents would also remain in place for that period. It also stipulates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will enact its own laws, including its own security law.

Interim report As we reach what is almost the half way mark from 1997 to 2047 what does Hong Kong’s interim report look like? From a political perspective, recent legislative developments affecting Hong Kong residents which were put in place at the behest of China, have caused considerable unrest which has been well documented globally. Concerns around extradition in 2019 and the Security Law in 2020 have paved the way for domestic and global concerns around the erosion of the 50

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year handover plan and China overstepping the agreed parameters. This has had geo-political implications with the United States of America imposing placeholder sanctions, indirectly aimed at China, which could affect how Hong Kong is treated by America, potentially losing its own independent trading terms and being regarded as a non-independent subset of China. The United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, the Five Eyes Member Countries and the United Nations have all expressed concerns and / or taken steps to impose measures or reviews. What happens next could be regarded as something of a roll of a dice, but equally, the safer hedge is that not a great deal will actually happen in the financial services space at least, despite something of a standoff between the political players involved. China has put its future framework firmly in place with the Security Law, but market commentary in the financial services arena in Hong Kong is suggestive that with that law in place not a great deal more will happen. It is aimed at benchmarking parameters for civil expectations and although arguments point to its potential application to the corporate world, the reality of that coming to fruition seems to be unlikely. Commentators note that China’s approach to Hong Kong mirrors what it did in Macau where their security law provisions have not lead to any known or quantifiable enforcement on a civil or private citizen basis, let alone any cross over into the world of commerce. Human rights compliance in Hong Kong will of course remain front and central for

sovereign trade partners, but with the Security Law now in place, not much more may actually flow from it. If that is the case, international sanctions for human rights reasons appear to be very unlikely and we are left with the “normal” world of good old international trade wars. That field of battle has really been bilateral between America and China, focusing on trading terms with some peripheral national security dynamics thrown into the mix, but it is principally about trade terms and not much else. How long this may or may not continue might well boil down to politics and particularly what happens to politics and particularly what happens now that Joe Biden is president. Every successful international finance centre has always had a strong and clear rule of law. Certainty of the rules of play and what happens if things go wrong are often the most fundamental ingredients of a successful financial services centre. Like New York and London, Hong Kong’s courts and Hong Kong law have always satisfied users at this most basic level. The Security Law has raised some question marks as to whether this will be diluted with sovereignty of decisions and forums potentially sitting in Beijing. Anecdotal responses from the market on this question have been widespread with international law firms with offices in Hong Kong and Asia regularly being asked for analysis on this subject. Most suggest that for commercial matters, the Hong Kong courts will continue to remain genuinely independent and beyond any reproach or interference, with high levels of comfort


G LOBA L B US I NE S S

from clients still being apparent on this point. The market is in any event very well balanced with English law and New York law governed transactions in the Hong Kong market being very prevalent and in fact dominant historically, with the forums for disputes also sitting outside of Hong Kong. As such, where counter parties have any medium or longer term concerns, well-trodden alternatives exist for still doing international business in and via Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s current financial performance shows that it had slipped into a recession before the global pandemic took hold, as a result of many of the factors noted above. But many key metrics also paint a very solid underlying picture. For example, the first half of 2020 saw 59 listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange raising US$11billion. Of course, using global comparisons at this moment in time does not necessarily inform a wider, useful analysis because of the pandemic. Also, a more meaningful review is a wider look at what has happened since 1997 and how it compares globally. Over that period Hong Kong’s performance has at least kept track with the other leading centres, often exceeding them. But what lies ahead ?

wider Asian and international business to their financial centres, sometimes questioning what will happen to Hong Kong. But Chinese demand into Hong Kong is almost certainly not going to go elsewhere so it is something of a fallacy to talk of Hong Kong’s business moving to Singapore for example. That also overlooks China’s own growing centres like Shanghai. Splinter parts of the purely international section of the Hong Kong market where demand is not China lead could move elsewhere but evidence of that happening in quantifiable measures is not apparent based on market commentary. Much of the above leads us to the conclusion that China’s future is very much in its own hands. That is no surprise and is also consistent with the position for most of the G19 countries or emerging economies, where such countries are able to meet international treaty obligations and diplomatic standards. But China’s economic outlook remains far more favourable than others’ and that gives it a very solid layer of economic and geopolitical insulation which other countries simply do not enjoy individually. Notwithstanding that, there is no reason to believe, outside of more extreme conspiracy theories, that China will not play a straight bat diplomatically, thus going about its business as it chooses while operating within the confines of international law. But that is China’s outlook, where will this leave Hong Kong?

The 2047 global landscape International bodies like the International Monetary Fund, via its World Economic Outlook research platform, have looked beyond 2050 in terms of economic forecasting. The leading international banks and the Big Four accountancy practices all have meaningful data and analysis too. The consistent projections are that by 2047 (using 2050 as the year benchmarked in various reports), China will far surpass America and all other key markets in terms of GDP and PPP (purchasing power parity). China, America and India, if the latter emerges as expected, are all projected to have GDPs and PPPs which are more than double the next nearest country. The sheer size, population and scope of China means that its resultant economic power is quite undeniable. Residual but important collateral questions remain around its likely approach in the coming years to international diplomacy, conventions and relations. It is probably a fairly safe assumption to make that China is unlikely to act as an aggressor in the form governing these matters, despite recent media rhetoric to the contrary, if the last few decades are taken as a sample size of its international behaviour and outlook. Diplomacy is a dual carriageway of course, so perceptions from others on its record on human rights in particular, including its stance on Hong Kong more generally, are all factors at play. Assuming that its diplomatic connections and relations remain broadly neutral, measured and consistent, then absent wider aggression on trade or political relations from other countries or blocs against it, as exhibited by America in recent times, it might be fair to conclude that not a great deal will change. Globalisation may slow down worldwide, but nationalism will not replace it, particularly as the world looks to move past the economic wreckage caused by the pandemic. Hong Kong is an international market, but it would be naïve and contrary to empirical data to suggest that it is now fuelled in a meaningful way by anything other than demand flowing from China. That demand is predominantly for capital via the Hong Kong markets with the HK dollar as an exchangeable currency, or US dollar capital, being the drivers. Global institutions on the supply side of that dynamic understand it well. The likes of Singapore, Japan and even Australia have all looked to attract

Hong Kong (PRC) PLC It’s clear that Hong Kong’s future pending 2047 sits firmly with China, where it will then remain. China has made its intentions clear but having put its markers down, domestically and globally, any further storms may quickly blow over as we’ve turned the page on 2020. That seems most likely if it becomes clear in practice that the Security Law is a framework of expectation for any future extremes, and not a tool for day to day enforcement, especially in the interim period. There are some other external factors at play as to how Hong Kong will devolve towards 2047, but they are unlikely to influence China. Hong Kong provides China with valuable access to unrestricted capital in a very efficient way and while it could find other ways to satisfy that demand, it would seem likely that China will have no interest or cause to change how Hong Kong operates overall in the lead up to 2047. The fact that Hong Kong is not paramount to China but is actually a relatively small part of China’s balance sheet, may further suggest that little will change. If China does not alter its current thinking and there are no domestic issues, it would also seem unlikely that international participants resident in Hong Kong will change their plans as the underlying demand in the market is a very strong source of business. Some may hedge their non-China-sourced business flows and re-house that business in other Asian centres. There are several working assumptions wrapped up within this summary but most follow the path of least resistance, like the most efficient markets tend to do. Although we live in an age of disruption Hong Kong’s robust history may well remain ever present as its journey continues. While it definitely belongs to China there are many reasons to expect Hong Kong to remain the global PLC that is admired and appreciated by its very wide stakeholder base across the globe. The British Virgin Islands’ own journey has some hallmarks of Hong Kong’s path, and vice versa. It also thrives on international commerce between international parties. As an active participant in Asia and Hong Kong in particular, the British Virgin Islands will be along for the journey. Questions beyond 2047 do remain, but few are venturing that far ahead at this juncture. | BB

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China and the United States are at war. Trade war. Neither combatant has British Virgin Islands in their crosshairs, but the potential for collateral damage is substantial. Businesses on the islands need to understand the risks and dangers, but must also look out for the possible opportunities.

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GLOBAL BUSINESS

US-China trade wars: Beware the collateral damage CLARE LECKIE, REBECCA MUNRO AND MARK PRAGNELL

Trump followed through on his election sabre rattling

Expect hostilities to continue

Addressing the gaping trade imbalance between the world’s two largest economies was a key policy pledge made by Donald Trump in his successful election campaign of 2016. Allegations of corporate espionage and intellectual property theft have gone handin-hand with anger in Washington over supposed export dumping, price fixing and currency manipulation. Upon taking office, Donald Trump was quick to make good on his promises – imposing a series of tariffs and other barriers to tackle these unfair trade practices.

You can expect Sino-American trade relations to remain top of agendas in the Biden administration.

The Trump administration levied taxes on two thirds of Chinese imports, restricted investment and advocated a boycott of their technology around the world. Although the two superpowers signed a ‘phase one’ trade deal in mid January 2020, it did little to alleviate tensions. At the time of the deal’s signing, the White House had imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion worth of Chinese goods, and Beijing had retaliated with levies on more than $110 billion worth of United States’ products. In signing the deal, China promised to boost imports from the United States by $200 billion above its 2017 level and agreed to strengthen intellectual property rules. For its part, the United States pledged to halve some of the new tariffs it had imposed on China. Since the signing of the deal, China’s Tariff Commission produced several new lists of American commodities exempt from tariffs, including timber, aircraft parts and medical equipment. In turn the Office of the US Trade Representative announced its own exemptions lists. After postponing a review of the ‘phase one’ trade deal six months in, both countries signalled their continued commitment to the agreement at the end of August. Nevertheless, issues remain. In the first six months of 2020, China bought less than a quarter of its annual target of goods agreed under the deal, while in September the World Trade Organisation found that the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods by the United States in 2018 breached global trading rules. The World Trade Organisation report stated that the tariffs applied were above maximum rates agreed to by the United States, and that they had not ‘adequately explained’ why the measures were a justified exception. COVID-19 has stopped the conflict escalating precipitously. So far.

Joe Biden’s China policy holds an uncanny resemblance to that of the Trump administration. He has stated that he intends fully to prioritise the making of domestic investments in United States workers and communities, before turning his attention to trade relations. The conflicting interests of Biden’s backers give an indication of the minefield he must navigate now that he is in office. The former vice-president will need to balance demands from a range of sources. Labour unions want protection for American jobs and spend on infrastructure, while United States corporations and farmers are pushing for cuts in tariffs and a smoother trade relationship with the Chinese. In addition, Biden will be conscious of the left leaning section of the Democratic Party that favours lower drug prices, greater equality and robust action on climate change. Given the vocal support from big-name progressives in his party, including Bernie Sanders, who encouraged their supporters to back Biden, he will likely need to repay some of that goodwill.

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Don’t bank on Beijing blinking first China’s exports to the United States account for a far greater share of total Chinese exports, than United States exports to China as a share of total United States exports. According to the World Bank, in 2018 Chinese imports of United States goods and services accounted for 7.3 per cent of China’s total imports and 7.3 per cent of the United States’ total exports. While Chinese exports to the United States accounted for 19.2 per cent of China’s total exports and 21.6 per cent of United States total imports. This has led many commentators to incorrectly assume that China is more dependent on the United States as an importer of its goods than the United States is on China for its own exports. From here they jump to a logical but ultimately flawed conclusion that Beijing will be the first to falter and that it will do so soon. No doubt this is what United States’ leaders and trade officials are hoping for. Where this argument goes wrong is that running a positive trade balance with a particular country is not necessarily a reflection of greater dependence on the trade relationship. China is no longer the manufacturing-dependent giant that it once was, instead its economy is as diverse and complex as it is large.

Limited direct danger to either the United States’ or China’s economies China and the United States are no strangers to trade wars. The First Opium War was fought between China’s Qing dynasty and the British Empire between 1839 and 1842. In the United States, the Embargo Act of 1807 placed an embargo on all French and British products entering the country. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it was not uncommon for trade disputes involving either country to crop up. The danger of this particular trade war is not that it will directly dent the global economy in any irreparable manner. Trade between the United States and China has been lopsided for decades. Since trade between the two nations took off last century, the United States has run a significant trade deficit. United States-China bilateral trade 1985 to 2019, United States dollars, billions

Imports Exports Balance

600 450

Sectors as share of GDP China, 2004 to 2019

Manufacturing Industry (including construction) Services

300 150 0

60%

-150 -300

52%

-450 -600 1985

43%

35%

26% 2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

2018

1988

1991

1994

1997

2000

2003

2006

2009

2012

2015

2018

Bilateral trade between the two economies was just under $559 billion in 2019, accounting for less than one per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). Moreover, neither economy is strictly dependent on the other’s trade for continued growth. Total international trade in the United States has hovered between twenty and 30 per cent of GDP for the past three decades. China, though traditionally more dependent on trade, has seen a sharp decline in the ratio of international trade to total GDP. In 2005, 64 per cent of GDP was made up of imports and exports, while in 2018, this was just 38 per cent of GDP. By comparison, international trade accounts for the equivalent of nearly two thirds of the United Kingdom economy.

In an inter-dependent world, it’s the collateral damage to be worried about The biggest risk associated with the United States-China trade war is economic contagion. Countries around the world rely on China and the United States for trade. Australia imports around 35 per cent of its goods from the two nations, and exports to them account for around 38 per cent. Similarly, Brazil and the Philippines import 35 per cent and 28 per cent of goods, and export 39 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. Moreover, the interlocking nature of global business mean that countries that may not trade together directly could still rely on each other indirectly through cross-border and complex supply chains. In this context, smaller nations can be caught in the crossfire. Island nations such as British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Bermuda are particularly reliant on the United States for imports and exports, as well as the country being the main source of visitors in the tourism sector. Despite the strength of the financial sectors on the islands, they will not be sheltered from the fallout of escalating tensions. But, at least in the near term, the United States-China trade war is not necessarily something for the international finance centres on these islands to lose sleep over; indeed, it’s an opportunity. As direct trade between the two largest economies becomes more difficult – and if third party nations are pressed to choose sides, offshore intermediation becomes even more valuable.

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COVID-19 provides additional ammunition for the ‘slowbalisation’ movement Trump’s trade war needs to be seen in the context of a broader movement in the West against globalisation. While the global economy overall has recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, and incomes have risen across the board, the improvements have been unequal with many electorates feeling bruised by capitalism and left behind by globalisation. Those in the West who earn lower and middle incomes have seen their cost of living increase, their real wages fall, their benefits decrease and house prices becoming more unaffordable. Growth in average per capita income by global income distribution percentile 1998 to 2008, 2011 PPP adjusted USD, per cent 100%

75%

50%

25%

0 0%

25%

50%

75%

100%

In contrast, the Asian middle class and the richest one per cent saw their real incomes rise by over 60 per cent between 1988 and 2008. We see the same sentiment across Western democracies to bring the jobs back, primarily from China and Asia, where they moved with the factories during the hey-day of globalisation. Those espousing ‘slowbalisation’ have found further reasons to row back from increased international economic integration in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted to businesses the fragility of stretching ‘just in time’ supply chains across geographically distant locations, and to governments the risks of reliance on foreign supplies. With the United States accused of commandeering shipments of masks bound for Europe back in April, or securing the world’s entire stock of the drug Remdesivir in June, and the United Kingdom reliant on Turkey to produce adequate volumes of surgical masks and gowns at the height of the crisis, there will likely be calls for greater domestic self-sufficiency in the manufacture of critical goods.

Long-term prospects for offshores depend on victory for globalisation The global pandemic has cracked open the fault lines in today’s international architecture. The post-war multilateral organisations, like the World Health Organisation, have been close to impotent. The now 27 members of the European Union have struggled to negotiate a mutually acceptable support mechanism – and what they have agreed has been tardy and half-hearted. Individual countries (and even their sub-national administrations) in Europe and beyond have gone their own way in response to the emerging public health and economic crisis. In some ways, this new fractious and fragmented global polity could be seen as blessed relief for international finance centres, like British Virgin Islands. An international community that can’t work together will find it harder to gang up on the small jurisdictions. Indeed, the big nations’ approaches to cross-border tax may even begin to diverge. But this perspective misses the bigger picture. The past success of offshore finance has been built on decades of growing globalisation – so a future environment that is less conducive to cross-border trade, international investment, or globally mobile employees and families will be tougher for the islands and their businesses. ‘Slowbalisation’ in its many manifestations — including the US-China trade war, union calls to ‘onshore’ manufacturing, tighter border controls and European Union blacklists of tax competitive jurisdictions – is a clear and present danger to offshore centres. Prepare your defences. | BB

COVID-19 has the potential to supercharge the recent tide of ‘populist nationalism’, which brings anti-globalisation sentiment into the political mainstream. President Trump’s rally cry of taking down ‘the establishment’ spoke to a base that has been largely left behind because of globalisation and international competition. The frustrations of the working class and the ‘squeezed middle’ in developed countries has seen significant support for populist parties across Europe. In the United Kingdom, referenda and elections have been won and lost on immigration and sovereignty. The closed or restricted borders necessitated by the pandemic serve to amplify the calls, while the origins of the virus provide further validation for those seeking to disengage politically and economically from China.

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GLOBAL BUSINESS

Unlocking BVI opportunity for the decade ahead VISTRA 2030 REPORT SIMON FILMER

VISTRA’s latest industry survey, Vistra 2030, shows a trending downwards of offshore centres in its jurisdiction rankings, where respondents rate the importance of onshore, midshore and offshore financial centres. Simon Filmer explains what this means for the BVI and other established jurisdictions, and why he thinks the future of offshore is secure as global business grows more sophisticated and seeks locations with solid reputations and sound legal structures.

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E

very year since 2010, Vistra has taken the pulse of the corporate services industry to find out how it’s faring against myriad global political and economic forces. In Q1 2020, we set out on our tenth annual survey against the backdrop of perhaps the most tumultuous period in our industry’s history. COVID-19 loomed large – we hadn’t yet understood the full economic impact of this global health threat and its impact continued to evolve as we conducted and closed the survey, and wrote the resulting report. Meanwhile, the global economy was grappling with US-China tensions, Brexit in the U.K., and existing regulatory pressures continued to mount on corporate and private clients. Despite the undeniable increase in complexity, we went ahead and surveyed 620 respondents and conducted in-depth interviews with 20 industry leaders, to understand how the industry is prepared for the next decade.

Six major trends emerged from our Vistra 2030 research: 1. Confidence shaken as cross-border business grows more complex 2. The industry is divided about how COVID-19 will impact the onshore versus offshore dynamic

Offshore in decline? This year’s survey once again contributed to our ever-popular jurisdiction ranking, which rates the importance of offshore, onshore and midshore financial centres. Most notably this year we see Singapore ahead of Hong Kong for the first time. It shares the top spot with major onshore jurisdictions: the UK and the US. And while the BVI ensures that offshore still features in the top five, most offshore centres are trending downward. 10

NETHERLANDS (2.23)

UNITED KINGDOM (3.27)

11

IRELAND (2.15)

UNITED STATES (3.27)

12

JERSEY (2.14)

4

HONG KONG (3.22)

13

GUERNSEY (1.97)

5

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS (2.94)

14

MAURITIUS (1.87)

6

CAYMAN ISLANDS (2.52)

15

CYPRUS (1.86)

1

SINGAPORE (3.31)

2 2

7

SWITZERLAND (2.5)

16

MALTA (1.75)

8

LUXEMBOURG (2.38)

17

SEYCHELLES (1.74)

9

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (2.35)

JURISDICTIONS RANKED BY PERCEIVED IMPORTANCE

Respondents expect offshore centres to continue a gradual decline based on their importance ratings – even the BVI and Cayman, which have consistently appeared among the top five in our jurisdiction ranking since it began in 2010. Calculating the net change in average importance of jurisdictions over the past ten years lays bare the industry’s expectation of a shift towards midshore/onshore centres.

5 SINGAPORE UNITED STATES

3. Regulatory co-operation may have peaked, as industry expectations of convergence fade 4. Ten-year data shows privacy and tax planning fall as drivers of demand

IMPORTANCE RATED 1-5: MIDSHORE/ONSHORE OFFSHORE

UNITED KINGDOM HONG KONG

4

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS CAYMAN ISLANDS SWITZERLAND

3

LUXEMBOURG UNITED ARAB EMIRATES NETHERLANDS

2

IRELAND

5. Singapore leapfrogs Hong Kong in jurisdiction rankings for the first time 6. China’s dominance recedes as emerging Asia becomes top market for origination

Through this survey we see clearly that international trade and investment fault lines are shifting. While individuals and entities remain as outward looking and international as ever, they face pressure from inward looking governments and major political powers. Corporate service providers are well placed to help clients navigate this increasingly complex environment as they seek to facilitate capital flow, safeguard assets and protect investors worldwide.

JERSEY GUERNSEY

1

MAURITIUS CYPRUS MALTA 2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016-17

2018-19

2020

TEN-YEAR TREND TRACKING: ONSHORE IN THE ASCENDANCY AS OFFSHORE DECLINES

Survey respondents expect that trend to continue into 2021: 36 percent expect increased demand for midshore/onshore centres while only 12 percent say the same about offshore – and 43 percent expect reduced demand there. This is part of a bigger picture: over the ten years the study has been running, all of the offshore centres in the rankings – including the Channel Islands, Mauritius and the Seychelles – have experienced a net negative change in perceived importance. Despite survey respondents’ predictions, the decline of offshore has consistently been overstated over the past decade.

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Regulatory Impact The proliferation of tax and transparency rules post-global financial crisis has seen the perceived tax planning and privacy benefits of locating in these offshore jurisdictions somewhat diminish. And the related compliance burden has increased the costs of doing business there. While the BVI and others may continue to buck the predicted decline of offshore centres over the last decade, might the pressure added by economic substance legislation be a test too far? The EU’s introduction of economic substance rules, in January 2019, has impacted the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories, among others. The EU used the rules to apply more reputational pressure when it added Cayman to a blacklist for missing its deadline to pass legislation covering economic substance for collective investment vehicles. It was subsequently removed from the blacklist in October 2020. The upshot has been to further erode some of the cost advantages of incorporating in offshore centres. Three-fifths (59 percent) of Vistra’s survey respondents think the increased cost of doing business will lead to a drop-off in demand. Despite this, as recently as 2018, the BVI still ranked in the top two of Vistra’s global jurisdictions. And, up until 2019, new incorporation volumes in the BVI and Cayman remained strong

Defying the doubters Jurisdictions such as the BVI and Cayman, in particular, have proven to be extremely resilient, remaining near the top of our global rankings eversince the study began. It is clear that the likes of the BVI, Cayman and the Channel Islands add significant value for clients so it is no surprise that they are defying the doubters who have predicted their demise. For organisations ranging from publicly listed companies to pension firms and sovereign wealth funds, the specialist services, flexibility and legal structure within the BVI make it a preferred choice for certain activities. When we analyse where corporate services add value for those survey respondents that rely most on the BVI and Cayman, the results suggest it’s a combination of their stability, expertise and ability to offer global reach, which accounts for their enduring stickiness.. MOST IMPORTANT BENEFITS FOR THOSE RELYING ON: BVI

47 % 37 % 37 %

36 %

39 %

41 % 34 %

34 %

31 %

30 %

26 %

30 %

29

%

27 %

32 % % 20 % 21

14 % 13 %

12 %

STABLE REGULATORY REGIME

SPECIALIST EXPERTISE

FLEXIBLE LEGAL STRUCTURES CERTAINTY/ ACCESS TO JUSTICE

AVOID DOUBLE TAX

CAYMAN ISLANDS

PRIVACY

GREATER INTL CAPITAL FLOWS

MORE FEASIBLE INVESTMENT VIA REDUCED COSTS

MORE GREATER FREE INTEGRATED TRADE GLOBAL BUSINESS CYCLE

THOSE RELIANT ON BVI AND CAYMAN VALUE STABILITY, EXPERTISE AND FLEXIBILITY ABOVE ALL ELSE

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Specifically, the BVI benefits from the following core attributes: Legal certainty and access to justice The BVI benefits from modern, flexible and up-to-date legislation. Since it passed the International Business Companies Act over 35 years ago, it has become a major player in cross-border business formation and operations. Clients can swiftly set up new BVI structures that are globally recognised and accepted for international business. Many such clients are from emerging markets and it can be helpful for them to use intermediary structures, particularly during times of international tensions. Such structures support economic stability and offer substantial monetary benefits too. In Asia, for example, some 75 percent of Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index consists of companies with direct linkages to the BVI. Furthermore, the BVI’s legal system is based on English common law—the same framework used in many international contracts. The jurisdiction’s dedicated Commercial Court deals with complex disputes involving cross-border business and justice is delivered in accordance with onshore standards. Its International Arbitration Centre further enhances its legal offerings. Such legal security guarantees strong shareholder protections that promote co-investing—protections that are not always readily available in other jurisdictions.

Specialist expertise The BVI boasts first-class professional services, including legal, accounting, audit and restructuring, which continue to expand in scale and expertise. Companies can find expertise in nearly every aspect of creating and running an international business in the BVI, from incorporating as a BVI business company or partnership to establishing and administrating a trust or fund, to registering vessels with the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry. With BVI lawyers operating in other onshore and midshore locations, such as London and Hong Kong, this is an aroundthe-clock offering servicing all timezones.

Stable regulatory regime While regulatory pressures pose additional barriers to entry for some clients, our research finds that increased market complexity globally contributes to the appeal of jurisdictions such as the BVI.


G LOBA L B US I NE S S

It is a member of multiple, globally recognised regulatory regimes. It adheres to the OECD’s Global Forum on Tax and Exchange of Information and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and to both OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and the US Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) for the automatic exchange of tax information. It also participates in the OECD’s Global Forum on Tax Transparency and Exchange of Information, the Financial Action Task Force and the Financial Stability Board, as well as the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Perhaps because of stern opposition, only 20 percent of our respondents think that public registers will ultimately prevail but, of those in support, 60 percent favour a model where regulated corporate service providers verify company information and make it available to relevant authorities as required. This approach is already employed in the BVI. Companies operating as BVI entities retain beneficial ownership information privately while maintaining full compliance with international laws. The country’s Beneficial Ownership Secure Search system (BOSSs) stores ownership information on a secure platform which BVI authorities can access and, when necessary, share with international legal and tax authorities.

The future for the BVI This year’s research tracked Vistra’s ten-year data to draw comparisons between 2010 and 2020 in order to better predict where the next decade may take us.

2010

2020

Tax neutrality The BVI’s tax neutrality, and that of other tax neutral jurisdictions, provides important economic advantages, though the benefits of zero percent corporate income tax are often misunderstood by the general public. For example, a business in one country may use a BVI entity to invest in commercial real estate in another country. Any taxes levied on the commercial real estate and its tenants would be paid locally and profits on the use of that commercial real estate are returned to the home country where the company pays income and other taxes. But the BVI intermediary does not collect corporate tax, leaving more money to be repatriated to the home countries providing and making use of the capital.

FACTORS MOST IMPORTANT TO GROWTH PROSPECTS OVER NEXT 12 MONTHS

1

35 % ASSET PROTECTION

2

34 % CROSS-BORDER TRADE/FDI

3

33 % GDP GROWTH

4

28 % WEALTH PLANNING

Further analysis of Vistra data over the past decade tells a story of the offshore industry’s increasing sophistication and this plays into the enduring appeal of jurisdictions such as the BVI.

5

26 % FUND INDUSTRY GROWTH

6

25 % INCREASED CLIENT SOPHISTICATION

7

25 % M&A ACTIVITY

8

24 % EMERGING MARKET WEALTH

9

14

%

NEW IPOs

In particular, we see this in the major drivers of demand for corporate services. Today’s key drivers of demand – asset protection, facilitating FDI, and GDP growth – bear little resemblance to those of 2010, when privacy and tax planning were at the top of clients’ agendas.

10

12

%

TAX PLANNING

11

12

%

HIGHER TAX IN DEVELOPED MARKETS

12

12

%

PRIVACY

This underscores the importance of the industry in enabling a functioning economy. While the EU’s introduction of economic substance legislation has undoubtedly diminished some of the cost advantages associated with the likes of the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories, we believe there is a long-term role for tax neutral jurisdictions with strong legal systems, which are well regulated and share information globally, to help connect disparate parts of the global economy. Offshore centres have been some of the fastest to respond to new regulation and cater to the needs of increasingly sophisticated clients and, as discussed, this contributes to their appeal. What’s more, in times of political tension, such jurisdictions not only serve as global connectors, they provide a neutral layer between sparring factions. The BVI has come

13

6 % DOUBLE TAX TREATIES

THE EVOLUTION OF WHAT DRIVES DEMAND FOR CORPORATE SERVICES

to assume systemic importance in the global financial services industry, thanks to its legal system, professionalism, and strict but business-friendly compliance measures, as detailed above. In the shorter term, developments in Asia will be critical to the BVI’s long-term prospects. Chinese investment drives a huge amount of the incorporation activity in the BVI and, providing it can maintain its status as a preferred destination for Asian investors over the coming years, versus powerful midshore players, it will be another sign of its resilience. There are reasons for optimism despite the competition; historically, Singapore and Hong Kong haven’t posed a serious competitive threat to the BVI’s core business areas. In fact, Hong Kong has largely had a complementary relationship, driving business – often originating in China – to offshore centres. The BVI has more cause for optimism about weathering this latest storm with strengths that few midshore or onshore centres can match. If it can maintain its status as preferred destinations for Asian investors over the coming years, versus powerful midshore players, it will be another sign of the market’s resilience. As such, we expect jurisdictions such as BVI will still be thriving 10 years from now. | BB

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GLOBAL BUSINESS

POINT COUNTER POINT

Publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership: Are they necessary? Elise Donovan provides an overview on this evolving topic as an introduction to the positions on either side of the debate.

T

he debate on whether publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership of companies are necessary is far from settled. The advocates, however, appear to be triumphing, not because they have provided convincing arguments to support their position, but because they wield the political clout and dominance to coerce those, like some of the British Overseas Territories (BOTs), to comply with their demands. Both proponents and opponent agree on the objective -- providing transparent systems to fight financial crime globally -- but they differ on the methods on how this should be best accomplished. BOTs, like the British Virgin Islands (BVI), have long maintained that their systems of verification are far superior and much more effective in fighting financial crime globally than unverified public systems, akin to the one established in the United Kingdom (UK).

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The UK was among the first countries to commit to and create a public register in 2015. This move was part of a promise made by then Prime Minister David Cameron during the UK’s 2013 G8 Presidency, which was held under the theme of Trade, Tax and Transparency. Cameron not only committed the UK to establish a publicly accessible central register of beneficial ownership and to undertake a wider review of corporate transparency, but he also got all of the UK’s Overseas Territories (OTs) and Crown Dependencies (CDs) to publish Action Plans, and to “consult on establishing central registries of company beneficial ownership, or where these exist, assess their effectiveness.” At the time, the UK did not require the OTs and CDs to have their registers public. However, before the ink could dry on their Action Plans, pressure intensified for the OTs and CDs to establish the registries. In 2016 OTs and CDs signed bilateral agreements with the UK, related to the sharing of beneficial ownership information. Under the terms of these agreements, which went into effect in 2017, UK law enforcement authorities would have access to beneficial ownership information within 24 hours of a request. To service this agreement, the BVI Government expended millions of dollars to establish its Beneficial Ownership Secure Search system (BOSSs). All information in the BVI’s BOSSs is fully verified and includes the legal name, date of birth, residential address and nationality of the beneficial owners of BVI companies.


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BOSSs uses the highest levels of security and encryption and is operational 24/7, 365 days a year. The cloud infrastructure ensures that the information is accessible 99 percent of the time and search capabilities are always able to be carried out. Under BOSSs request for information can and have been returned in one hour. Through this system, the BVI also shares information with 200 law enforcement authorities around the world. Officials at the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) have said that the information they receive on the agreements with the OTs and CDs has been of immense value in their investigations. Of note, it was information from the BVI’s BOSSs system that warranted the UK’s first Unexplained Wealth Order, obtained by the NCA in 2018. The BVI’s beneficial ownership system is also compliant with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog and the body which sets the international standards to fight related crimes. In fact, it was the FATF that called for a multipronged, risk-based approach for ensuring that information on the beneficial ownership of a company is obtained by that company and available at a specified location in that country; or can be otherwise determined in a timely manner by a competent authority. In its Best Practices on Beneficial Ownership for Legal Persons report, the FATF outlines that “an openly and publicly accessible central registry does not necessarily mean that the information is accurate and up-todate”. Rather, it states that it is important that the information is verified, current and accessible to competent authorities when required on a timely basis. The UK has recognized the inadequacy of its public companies’ registry, and in 2020 committed to revise its systems to implement a verification process in line with the FATF standards, alongside putting more pressure on OTs and CDs to commit to public registers. Steps taken by the OTs and CDs were not enough to satisfy their critics and, as part of the Criminal Finance Act of 2017, the UK Government set out to take all reasonable steps to support the OTs and CDs to establish publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership of companies. However, the OTs and CDs

“An openly and publicly accessible central registry does not necessarily mean that the information is accurate and up-todate. Rather, it states that it is important that the information is verified, current and accessible to competent authorities when required on a timely basis.”

pushed back on this request and said that they would only do so when public registers had become a global standard. This did not sit well with the advocates of public registers, who launched a strong campaign against this stance and which culminated in May 2018 with the UK Government taking forward an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, requiring the 14 Overseas Territories to introduce public ownership registers by the end of 2020 or face having them forcibly imposed. In December 2018, Lord Ahmad, the then UK Minister for the Overseas Territories at the meeting with UK Government and OT officials announced that the UK Government would give the OTs until 2023 to implement the public registers. Again, the OTs maintained that they would do so only when public registers were the global standard. However, with pressure building, over the next two years - and one by one – the OTs committed. The BVI, the last to commit in September 2020, did so with several reservations and caveats, including that it must be “in line with international standards and best practices as they develop globally and, at least, as implemented by the EU Member States by 2023 in furtherance of the EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5).” Following this, the UK Government was quick to announce that it had all its OTs and CDs on board to implementing public registers. And in December 2020, stated that “in light of the firm commitments from all of the inhabited OTs to adopt publicly accessible registers, the UK Government decided that it is now not necessary to make the Order but that it will keep this under review.” Nevertheless, it still provided a draft of the Order setting out the minimum requirements that would be accepted. The UK has funded Open Ownership, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting countries implementing beneficial ownership transparency, to provide individualized assistance to all OTs to set up the public registers. Open Ownership, however, has partnered with the most strident adversaries of OTs, including Transparency International, Global Witness and Tax Justice Network. As governments across the UK’s OTs and CDs take a fresh look at the steps that are needed at a global level to move towards publicly accessible registers, it is essential to revisit both sides of the debate as legislative developments continue in the background alongside continued input from industry commentators. In the following articles, Robert Briant and Martin Litwak outline the case for and against whether publicly accessible registers are necessary to provide transparency in the global fight against financial crimes.

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THE CASE FOR PUBLIC REGISTERS ROBERT BRIANT

Apples to apples I have concluded that only 25%+ beneficial owner information will be available on a public register, and that very personal details (such as home address) will not be published. I have also concluded that there will be certain protections available to prevent the publication of information in the case of children or where there is justifiable risk of harm, and similar cases. If this is the structure of a PARBO, then this should toss out the arguments that too much personal information is public or that there are risks of harm to persons. Otherwise, we need to determine whether the information in a PARBO will be verified and if so what we mean by verification. This is the crux of the issue. It should not be assumed that if BVI were to adopt a PARBO it would be the heavily verified ‘know your client’ information which is currently in BOSS. Rather, presumably if BVI were to adopt a PARBO it would adopt the UK model.

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have been asked by Business BVI to write an article setting out the benefits of a publicly accessible register of beneficial owners of corporate entities (a “PARBO”). Being a BVI legal practitioner, this is not the easiest of tasks. I believe that the BVI model of a verified private register with effective exchange of information is far more effective than an unverified public register. However, like any good lawyer, I need to be able to consider both sides of a case, and have approached the task on this basis. It is incumbent on all of us to understand the arguments for a PARBO if at least to understand why a PARBO is not as effective as a verified private register, with effective exchange of information. However, we have to agree why it is even suggested that PARBOs be adopted, as they are a fundamental change from the current regime. I understand that the main argument in favour of PARBOs is to combat the use of corporate entities for criminality, including regulatory and tax offenses. There are other arguments in favour of a PARBO which are discussed below, but fundamentally, the concern with corporate vehicles and the reason for PARBOs is the need to allow transparency to combat criminality in the broadest sense. However, from my review of the material, the arguments for and against a PARBO are often at cross purposes. It is important that the argument be framed to ensure we agree on what we are discussing. Otherwise, we are comparing apples to oranges. The first two points to agree are the contents of a PARBO and the extent of verification of beneficial owner information.

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Let us consider the BVI model as it currently exists. A fundamental feature of the BVI model is the registered agent. Only licenced BVI registered agents can incorporate a BVI company. As a result, the registered agent acts as the gatekeeper, only incorporating a company when it is ready to do so (ie service contracts are signed, organisational documents have been obtained and, importantly, KYC (know your client) has been satisfied). The current BVI verification model involves obtaining structure charts and supporting evidence to show the link between the registered shareholder and the ultimate individual beneficial owners, coupled with identification verification, address verification and numerous compliance verifications, such as purpose of company, source of wealth and related matters. All of this information is then reviewed and verified by a team of compliance individuals. With the UK model, anyone can incorporate a company online. There is no verification of the beneficial owner information. While there is public scrutiny of the information, if the information is false, there is no barrier to forming the company. While the UK model is more efficient in that it eliminates the middleman, it also means that there is no gatekeeper to obtain and verify KYC. I should note that the UK has recently announced that it will verify the directors of UK companies. It will be done by a digital verification process. I understand that the verification will be done entirely automatically by way of a facial recognition scan of the identification document and similar technology solutions. This is a start. However, I suggest that this digital verification model (which has yet to be adopted) is a far cry from the verification currently carried out by individuals on the beneficial owners of BVI companies. The reason verification is important, of course, is that it goes to the accuracy of the data in the register. Verified information is highly accurate, whereas unverified information is less accurate, particularly in the context of criminality. The question is whether the better balance is to have highly accurate information available for the authorities or less accurate information available to all persons. Which brings me back to ‘apples to apples’. A PARBO, verified along the current BVI model would be a model of transparency and accuracy. However, why would BVI publish its highly verified register when that is not the global standard? BVI has committed to meeting international standards of transparency, but no one has a public register of beneficial owners verified to the extent of BVI verification. When comparing a PARBO to a verified private register, we should not assume that we are simply publishing verified BVI information. Rather, presumably BVI would adopt the global standard which is a PARBO with unverified or barely verified beneficial owner information. With this background, let us consider the reasons in favour of a PARBO.


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and large businesses and to avoid business and consumers being victimised by crime. In my view, this is not very persuasive. Generally, examples of fraud are typically not where a fraudster is hidden, but rather where the fraudster is out front representing his company. The mastermind of a Ponzi scheme is successful because he does not hide. However, more importantly, in the context of BVI, offshore is for sophisticated parties. Invariably, counterparties to a BVI company know who they are dealing with. Frankly any sophisticated party will want to understand the structure of any counterparty in any material contract. As such, this argument does not hold much weight, at least in the context of the BVI.

Justifiable reasons for a PARBO I suggest that there are two reasons which justify a PARBO. Not coincidently they are also the same reasons given for a free press. Limited government resources It is a truism that governments have limited resources. While some governments may spend more than others on policing criminal activity, at the end of the day no government is able to entirely eliminate criminal activity. To the extent corporate entities are used for criminal activity and to the extent the public knowing the beneficial owners of these entities will help to reduce criminality, then making this information public allows the public, notably the press, to investigate wrongdoing and bring it to light when the police have failed to do so. This helps to reduce criminality, which is a good thing. A corollary of this argument is that ‘sunshine’ provides fewer places for criminals to hide. History is filled with examples of the press bringing to light illegal activity. For this reason, PARBOs make sense Government corruption The limited government resources argument assumes that a government, through the police force or regulatory or tax enforcement agencies, wishes to investigate criminality. However, there are examples where a government, police force or other enforcement agency are themselves corrupt and choose not to carry out these investigations. In this situation making beneficial owner information public will likely not reduce criminality in that jurisdiction. However, it will allow persons and governments in other jurisdictions to expose corruption, perhaps even to the domestic population where the corruption is located, and impose sanctions. In short, PARBOs make sense given limited government resources and the corruption of certain governments. Other reasons for a PARBO There are a handful of other reasons often provided to justify a PARBO. In my view they are less persuasive but in the interest of fairness I set them out as well. Businesses know who they are doing business with It is thought that having a PARBO will help businesses know the counterparty in a contractual relationship. This reason has also been phrased as increasing competiveness by ensuring that contracts go to the company best suited for the job, levelling the playing field between small

“If the objective is to reduce criminality, then an unverified or barely verified PARBO is less desirable than a verified private register with effective exchange of information.”

Good for the Economy The suggestion is that PARBOs increase the stability of financial markets and enable better allocation of capital by investors. However, this argument is a double edge sword. To the extent PARBOs decrease the use of corporate vehicles as a result of increased costs and reduced privacy then the economy is less efficient and there is a poorer allocation of capital by investors. Reduces the cost of due diligence and risk analysis Similarly it is suggested that PARBOS decrease the cost of due diligence and risk analysis. The question though is how much of a reduction in cost is there. As indicated, people who interact with BVI companies are almost always sophisticated and will know the company. The savings from a search of a PARBO will be marginal at best, as no doubt the counterparty will carry out deeper due diligence than a simple check of the PARBO. Oranges to oranges There are justifiable reasons for a PARBO, which, in short, are that transparency will help to reduce criminality. However, this is done at the cost of privacy. Is the benefit from transparency greater than the cost from loss of privacy? This question is the topic for another article. Rather I have reached the conclusion that there are good reasons for a PARBO, but if the objective is to reduce criminality, then an unverified or barely verified PARBO is less desirable than a verified private register with effective exchange of information. A PARBO which is verified along the BVI verification model is the gold standard. However, no one is adopting this model. Rather if BVI were to adopt a PARBO, it would likely be along the lines of the UK model, which is a non-verified PARBO. In my view a nonverified PARBO is less effective at reducing criminality then a register of beneficial owner information verified along the BVI model, with that information being readily exchanged with foreign authorities. In fact, I would suggest that any jurisdiction, which is serious about combatting crime should adopt the registered agent model where the registered agent verifies beneficial owner information. This will ensure that the beneficial owner information is high quality which is not the case with an unverified or barely verified PARBO.

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EXPLAINING MY POSITION AGAINST PUBLIC REGISTERS OF ULTIMATE BENEFICIAL OWNERS MARTÍN LITWAK

Privacy When the Income Tax was first created, initially in the UK and thereafter in many other countries, with the main aim of covering extraordinary expenses (such as wars), the arguments used by its detractors were not why private individuals had to pay for crises they had not created, or even why the Government thought that it was a good idea to establish a tax that would directly affect the income generated by these individuals, but what many among us still see and defend as something fundamental in these times: the individual’s right to privacy. Mid-19th century taxpayers thought the Government had no right whatsoever to know how much money they earned. They were already paying consumption taxes, and while some of them might not be happy about it, they understood these were reasonable and served the common good. But they were not willing to let the Government meddle with their private lives: this, in their opinion, was an unjustified intrusion.

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understand that there are practitioners in the British Virgin Islands (“BVI”) that would like to see the BVI adopting a position similar to that of the Crown Dependencies and other Overseas Territories with regard to the establishment of publicly accessible registers of beneficial owners of companies and other types of entities. However, we have to agree why it is even suggested that PARBOs be adopted, as they are a fundamental change from the current regime. I understand that the main argument in favour of PARBOs is to combat the use of corporate entities for criminality, including regulatory and tax offenses. There are other arguments in favour of a PARBO which are discussed below, but fundamentally the concern with corporate vehicles and the reason for PARBOs, is the need to allow transparency to combat criminality in the broadest sense. My position on the creation of a Register of ultimate beneficial owners of companies in the BVI is well known and, in this commentary, I will fully explain my reasons to reject this potentially very harmful (and unnecessary) initiative. In my opinion, there are at least four relevant arguments worth exploring for not supporting it.

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Income Taxes evolved over time: one war led to another, and even in the absence of armed conflict, many governments decided to impose these taxes without any extraordinary circumstances. And so, more and more countries started to adopt them as a way for governments to fund other expenses. In this context, it was more and more important for them to know how much money their taxpayers were making and, eventually, how much wealth they have. From a privacy right standpoint then, we can see a tension between the right to privacy of the individuals and the interest of a government to have financial information on its citizens. The solution to this tension is not that complicated at law: • When two different, individual rights oppose each other, the arising conflict is always resolved by determining which right prevails in hierarchy. • When there is a “conflict” between a fundamental human right and a mere interest of the State, there can be no discussion. Personal safety But much more important that what we discussed in the previous section, namely the privacy of individuals as a human right, are the on-going safety of clients who would be exposed to a myriad of threats from kidnapping to robbery, to extortion if their personal details were to be held by a central Register. There are indeed serious privacy issues that every HNW and UHNW client would face if this Register were to become mandated. This section would not be relevant if the entire world enjoyed the levels of legal certainty and personal security of the U.S. or Europe. This is not the case. And the vast majority of BVI users live in insecure countries, most of them in Latin America, Asia and Africa, where unfortunately violence is already part of their day to day lives. For these individuals, the critical need for privacy that was discussed above is also relevant for other reasons. In fact, these individuals are people who


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live in countries where the need to protect wealth does not have anything to do with the desire to pay less taxes or the right to privacy as a right in itself (which would, of course, be understandable), but to protect their physical security. In Latin America, for example, crime levels are extremely high and that includes kidnap for extortion of high-income citizens, theft, torture and murder. What is the use of privacy then? To protect assets, of course, but also to protect life itself. Forty-two of the 50 most violent cities in the world in 2020 are in Latin America, most of them in Mexico and Brazil. Out of the remaining 8, Durban and Mandela Bay in South Africa, and Kingston, Jamaica, stand out. Only two of the 50 cities are in developed countries: St. Louis and Baltimore. As for the countries with the most extortion kidnappings, Brazil tops the list with 54.91% of incidents, followed by Mexico with 23.40% and Colombia with 5%. Worldwide, the most affected countries are Turkey (7.93%), Vietnam (7.52%) and India (7.06%). The BVI solution already exists In the BVI, there is an established system that allows authorities to know the identity of the shareholders and owners of the companies established in the territory in a matter of hours if necessary: the notorious BOSSs, copied and implemented by many competing jurisdictions. We do not deny, that under certain circumstances, this information must be provided to the authorities. Unlike those who criticize our position with regards to implementing this new BO Register, we put ourselves in their shoes and we tell them that they are right in their aims, but not in their arguments or, even less, their proposals. In other words, the interests that this new Register is intended to protect are appropriately protected already. There is no need for further infrastructure when the existing framework is already effective and efficient. Why would we reinvent a wheel that is not broken? Economic arguments If the world ever adopts this idea holistically, the offshore industry will be effectively cancelled. This would be a death knell for BVI, other offshore jurisdictions and the individuals using them with strictly lawful goals.

But why get ahead of ourselves and give away our lifeblood on a silver platter to other jurisdictions when the existence of public registries of UBOs is far from being a world standard nowadays? Why would BVI consider being the “tall poppy” of the off shore world when we do not have to be? This would be one of the most detrimental political decisions the jurisdiction could make, as it will lead to loss of business and the migration of trust and wealth planning companies out of BVI. My fear would be that companies doing business in the BVI would be forced to move their operations and clients to jurisdictions which will not have these registers in place, such as Belize or Nevis, in order to maintain some sense of privacy for their clients. We would also face scrutiny from HNW and UHNW advisors and clients in emerging markets, with regards to them having to place themselves and their clients in harm’s way in order to comply with this Register. This is simply not good for business.

“Do we need to lose all aspects of privacy to conform to what a few people think is the solution?”

I would argue that there are sufficient controls already in place (FATCA, CRS and BOSSs among them) to ensure the balance between fighting crime and corruption and an individual’s right to privacy and safety within the jurisdiction. Authorities already have the mechanisms in place to request and receive information on individuals if they are suspected of criminal activity. The system the BVI has already works well and there is no valid reason to change it. In fact, the downside could be significant in my opinion and cost BVI its place as a leader in the IFC world. Also, this is not even a global standard under FATF – and it has always been the approach of the BVI, that it would adopt such a standard if and when it becomes one – as indeed it has with other global standards be they mandated by the IMF or the OECD with CRS compliance. Means and ends Again, it is clear that a government has a legitimate interest in knowing the wealth status of their taxpayers but, sometimes, the cure can be worse than the disease. A case in point is domestic violence, an alarming situation not only in Latin America but also in many other countries, including BVI. Imagine a country with high domestic violence levels. Now imagine that a proposal to solve this problem for good is to make all houses transparent glass houses. No privacy and no walls … This idea is not devoid of logic: if houses are made of glass, everyone can see what is going on in them and this will mitigate violence. Or, it is easy to see what’s going on and find the abusers quickly and efficiently. However, what is the cost? Is this worth it if there are other, less invasive, mechanisms that lead to the same result? Do we need to lose all aspects of privacy to conform to what a few people think is the solution? And, lastly – do we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater and start over completely when there is no need to do so? Questions to ponder as we face the future together as a jurisdiction in transition. | BB

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REGIONAL BUSINESS

Strengthening US-Caribbean relations in the Biden era BENITO WHEATLEY

COVID-19

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trengthening United States (US)-Caribbean relations will be a test for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as the new US President Joe Biden focuses on bringing America’s COVID-19 pandemic under control. To gain the attention of the new US Administration, CARICOM must present the US with an agenda that serves both US and Caribbean interests over the medium-term. There are clear areas for cooperation such as COVID-19, climate change, regional security, international taxation and the global financial system that can form the basis of a renewed US-Caribbean relationship.

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The US’ current preoccupation with COVID-19 is a starting point for CARICOM-US engagement. The nexus between the two sides is the slowly increasing flow of American tourists back to the Caribbean at a time when coronavirus infections are surging across the US. This presents a public health risk to the highly tourism dependent Caribbean destinations, whose Governments have thus far successfully managed the pandemic. Not only is the risk of importing COVID-19 cases a problem, but the prospect of Americans and other visitors experiencing life-threatening symptoms of the virus while on-island is a real worry. Immediately establishing a joint US-Caribbean mechanism for handling severe COVID-19 cases of visiting US citizens could bolster local emergency response measures to help save lives. This would help in the management of the virus for the current tourism season and also boost Americans’ confidence in traveling to the Caribbean.


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Climate change

International taxation

The other critical area for US-Caribbean relations, is climate change. President Biden has sent a strong signal to the world that climate change is a top priority for America, by selecting former Secretary of State John Kerry as his Special Presidential Envoy on Climate Change. Mr. Kerry will be included in Mr. Biden’s cabinet and will also sit on the US National Security Council. The President-elect has also brought the US back into the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

International taxation is another important area for US-Caribbean cooperation. The US territories of Guam, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands, as well as tax jurisdictions that are a part of the CARICOM bloc, including Anguilla, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago, have been pressured and blacklisted by the European Union (EU) in regard to implementing EU economic substance requirements for their tax resident companies. The EU’s actions are extra-territorial in nature and fall outside of the established OECD Global Forum framework for international tax cooperation. The EU appears intent on widening its blacklisting criteria to maintain pressure on small jurisdictions. The US and CARICOM can cooperate on insisting that all parties to the OECD Global Forum return to the multilateral process established for tax cooperation under the auspices of the OECD that is the legitimate authority on international tax matters.

CARICOM can leverage the elevation of climate change to a top tier US national security issue to strategically engage the new US Administration, particularly on the heightened risk of climate related natural disasters to both the Caribbean and US that are located in the hurricane belt. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active on record, which saw the formation of 30 storms, of which 12 made landfall on the continental US and also passed through the Caribbean basin. The US’ eastern and southern seaboards and the Caribbean’s highly vulnerable low-lying coastal nations and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are also impacted by sealevel rise and biodiversity loss due to climate change. These worrying trends are expected to continue unabated without an intervention. To combat the climate crisis, the US and CARICOM can strike a climate compact aimed at boosting climate action to help limit global CO2 emissions to 1.5 degrees by 2030 and also providing support to the vulnerable societies of the Caribbean Basin to help them adapt to the negative effects of climate change.

Regional security The US and CARICOM also have a common interest in strengthening regional security, including the prevention of drug and human trafficking in the Caribbean Basin. The US-led Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) is a beneficial arrangement for participating Caribbean Governments whom the US helps to build their law enforcement and interdiction capabilities in order to stop the illicit flow of contraband from South America through the Caribbean Basin to North America. The impact of COVID-19 on many Caribbean Governments’ fiscal position has diminished their capacity to fund coastguard patrols and interdiction operations. The US can further assist these Governments’ with additional financial resources to help maintain their maritime surveillance efforts that are critical to preventing their waters and coastal communities from being used to traffic people and illegal contraband to North America and beyond. The US and Caribbean Governments that are parties to the regional security arrangement, can also widen the scope of the CBSI to include disaster response in light of the climate risks to the region and its proneness to earthquakes.

Global financial system Improving the integrity of the global financial system is also an important area for CARICOM-US engagement. The FinCEN Files leak in September 2020 highlighted US regulators’ concerns about international moneylaundering. In the US itself, legislation is making its way through Congress that if passed would establish a ‘central’ register of beneficial ownership that would assist law enforcement. This measure would satisfy the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that call on Governments to keep adequate information on the ultimate beneficial owners of companies incorporated in their jurisdictions. Caribbean Governments also largely follow FATF guidance on beneficial ownership and are taking steps to put central registers in place. The US position in particular runs counter to calls by the United Kingdom (UK) Government for ‘public’ registers of beneficial ownership to become a global standard by 2023, which has already been implemented by the UK. Within CARICOM, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Cayman Islands have also committed to implementing publicly accessible registers in line with the EU. The US and respective Governments represented in CARICOM can work closely together on financial investigations to combat financial crime, including rapid exchange of beneficial ownership information between law enforcement agencies. Finally, while the risk profile of the Caribbean in the global banking sector has markedly improved in recent years, there is still a need for ongoing engagement between CARICOM and the US Treasury Department and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on the issue of de-risking. This is critical to avoiding the Caribbean again becoming collateral damage of US regulators’ pressure on international banks that has already done considerable damage to correspondent banking relationships with the region that are key to Caribbean financial institutions’ ability to participate in the global financial system.

Conclusion CARICOM and the US Administration of President Joe Biden have an opportunity to strengthen US-Caribbean relations. However, US domestic focus on containing the COVID-19 pandemic will require robust CARICOM political and diplomatic engagement with the US Government to set a new US-Caribbean agenda. Both sides have mutual interests in COVID-19, climate change, regional security, international taxation and the global financial system that can be the pillars of a renewed relationship. To cement US-Caribbean ties, CARICOM and the US at the earliest juncture should hold a US-CARICOM Summit to cement the US-Caribbean relationship for the challenging term ahead of Joe Biden’s Presidency. | BB

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LOCAL BUSINESS

Construction sector roundup & projection for 2021 MARVIN E. FLAX

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he construction and development market were on track to experience a more familiar, yet upward trajectory, not felt since pre-Irma, with the injection of insurance payouts. From government works to privately backed developments, early 2020 had seen a variety of contracts dispersed, awarded, and realized across the board. Of course, all this traction hit a standstill, as it did worldwide, when faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. While plans for reopening borders and returning operations to a more normal pace are in motion, the BVI tourism and construction markets will face many challenges in 2021 and possibly beyond. Nonetheless, the BVI still holds the interest of significant developers, and the construction sector in the territory is poised for a comeback.

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LOCA L B US I NE S S

Government sector developments Local banking institutions play a significant role in financing the many projects we see around the territory. Some banks have been approving mortgages to assist Belongers and non-Belongers with hurricane-damaged properties and construction loans for necessary repairs. Currently, we see many ways in which the banking institutions and Government are working jointly to kickstart the real estate market in the BVI by adopting new practices that benefit both construction workers and buyers. Examples of this assistance are listed below: • In order to jumpstart the economy amid the pandemic, the decision was made to temporarily remove the stamp duty paid by Belongers. Usually, a 4% stamp duty or tax is levied on land sales from Belongers to Belongers. • For some time, the National Bank of the Virgin Islands was financing 100% on home and land loans. This, coupled with the stamp duty waiver and newly available land from subdivisions has also contributed positively to construction in the BVI. • As stated by the Chief Planner of the Town and Country Planning Department, an average of 240-250 applications are reviewed annually. The Town and Country Planning Department’s application numbers for privately funded projects are set to exceed the average application numbers, despite the five-week closure. Most of the 2019 and 2020 applications have been for new construction projects. This increase signifies that we have moved past the post-Irma boom.

What are the key issues facing our construction industry today, and how can we turn these challenges into opportunities? I will outline my analysis of our current market and the critical drivers both local and international that will drive the construction and development sector’s performance in 2021. On the heels of a stellar 2019, local architects kicked off 2020 with optimism and increased requests for proposals. General contractors of all sizes were looking forward to the many government and hospitality-related projects connected to the Hurricane Irma recovery process. However, several large-scale projects, like hotels and mixeduse buildings in the pipeline, were put on hold when the pandemic struck at the end of March. Developments that were halfway through the construction documentation process and actively going through feasibility studies and financing models were paused shortly after the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic and the BVI Government made a crucial decision to close the borders and mandate curfews. Needless to say, this had an immediate impact on the local economy and by extension, the construction market. Massive job losses in the hospitality sector led to an increased labor supply for contractors. This created a supply and demand opportunity that produced lower daily rates for all trades. A decrease in daily rates would typically provide a benefit to the market, but due to the diminishing efficiency of many manufacturing plants brought on by the pandemic world-wide, material prices rose in the Unites States. Prices for wood for example saw rate increases by as much as 25%.

• The Public Works Department has also seen an increase in applications. This is incredibly valuable data because it shows that projects, and their owners, are committed enough to finish the design and construction detailing process. • The Town and Country Planning Department and Public Works Departments have combined their efforts and have moved the entire application process online. This shift to digital has led to increased efficiency and shorter review times for applicants and agents. Quicker turnarounds on the approval side, mean timelines for construction can be shortened. • The Caribbean Development Bank also completed agreements for a $65 million loan to the BVI Government. As of September 30, 2020, the total value of contracts awarded by the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) was US$19,251,714, with 88% of the contracts awarded to local BVI companies, and mostly infrastructural-related. • While the competition for these projects is quite robust, the procurement and eligibility process for Caribbean Development Bank funded projects tend to benefit the medium to bigger contractors who have already been through the process on other RDA related request for proposals. • In addition to the RDA’s efforts, the Central BVI Government also inked several contracts that will also impact the local construction trade. The Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex engaged OBMI to help renovate and upgrade the complex. Other projects, such as the Market Square Development and the National Sewerage Project, are all active in the design and procurement phases.

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In 2021, there is a strong likelihood that BVI Government and statutory body-related projects could have a major impact on the local construction market. Below are just a few of the future projects to look out for in the coming year: • T.B. Lettsome Airport expansion • Prospect Reef Resort • Elmore Stout High School • West End Ferry Terminal • Cruise Pier extension and 5-star hotel • Sustainable Environmental Plan • Territory-wide Infrastructure Plan • Development Plan • Road Engineering and Construction plan

Private and hospitality sector development Despite the challenges seen in 2020, we have been able to see an increase of current construction activity across the Territory. Key indicators in this regard include the amount of new land subdivisions which provides opportunities for the over 1,500 recently approved Belongers. Expectations are that the impact on the local construction market for more single-family homes will begin to manifest itself starting in 2021.

Resorts and private developments are the major drivers of the construction market. Although, the idea of building a new hotel is considered a risk at the moment in the aftermath of COVID-19, some developers are still eager to proceed albeit at a more cautious pace. Regional experts in the hospitality space feel we will not see similar 2019 tourism numbers until about 2023, which will negatively impact local and regional construction markets. But when travel resumes, which is highly anticipated with vaccine approval imminent, the BVI is well-positioned as an attractive option for development-related investment. Luckily, there are other ways in which we are able to ensure that the real estate market remains lucrative. As result of the stamp duty waiver mentioned earlier, we know Belongers were incredibly busy in the real estate market. A significant portion of their effort in the space is concentrated and directed at buying properties previously owned by older ex-patriots, whose homes were damaged or distressed due to the 2017 hurricanes and who are keen to rid themselves of the hassle of fixing the structures. These properties present another component of the construction market, although currently a smaller portion. Larger projects such as those listed below tend to engage the larger construction companies with extensive skilled and diverse crews with access to unique equipment and sister islands capability. It is important to note that projects which were already under construction when the borders closed,

were met with prolonged procurement delays and scheduled delivery challenges. The status of each development is listed below. Completed projects: • Rosewood Little Dix Bay • Mosquito Island • Necker Island • Guana Island Under construction: • Bitter End Yacht Club • Long Bay • Saba Rock • Oil Nut Bay – Multiple Villas Design, planning & approval phase: • Biras Creek • Gun Creek Marina • Road Harbour Marina • Sugar Mill Hotel • Eustatia Island • Blunder Bay No public updates available: • Norman Island • Yacht Club Costa Smeralda • Brandywine Bay Development A primary take away for 2020 is that the year may well be remembered as a mixed bag of highs and lows for most in the local construction industry. Given available market data, we are confident in our thinking hat the BVI will remain attractive to potential investors and travellers in to 2021. Consistent with the new wave of safety cautious travellers, we have already seen a shift from the preference of large resorts to unique boutique properties that inherently take advantage of distancing as travellers want to escape crowds and large groups. Additionally, to meet recent consumer needs, there has been an active purchasing curiosity towards the oversupply of villas on the market. In which case we believe that the BVI has a distinct advantage. We anticipate this pace will quicken well into 2021 and beyond. | BB

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LOCAL BUSINESS

BVI Constitutional Reform and the future of self-government

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he British Virgin Islands (BVI) is poised for a Constitutional Review in 2021 that will consider potential changes to the Constitution which will form the basis of negotiations between the local Government and United Kingdom (UK) on constitutional reform. The process will be facilitated by a locally appointed Constitutional Review Commission established by the House of Assembly to gather the public’s views on strengthening and expanding self-government on the islands. This is a legitimate exercise for the Territory after the experiences of two category five hurricanes in 2017, the UK’s imposition of public registers of beneficial ownership on the Overseas Territories (OTs) in 2018, the impact of COVID-19, and demographic changes over the last 20 years. To ensure a meaningful Constitutional Review exercise, the Commission should give considerable attention to: i. How existing constitutional arrangements and provisions can be improved to strengthen self-governance; and ii. What additional constitutional responsibilities the local Government should assume from the UK as the next steps in the self-determination process. The key areas of constitutional reform that can make a material difference in the advancement of self-government at this juncture, are law and order, defence, fiscal affairs, the Public Service and the UK-BVI constitutional relationship. Developing concrete proposals will be critical to the ultimate outcome of the Constitutional Review. Below are considerations on prospective changes.

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Law and order Law and order are primarily the domain of the UK, but an important area for the further devolution of power to the local Government on an apolitical basis. At present the Governor is responsible for internal security and administration of the courts, which are administered by the Deputy Governor’s Office. The departments and bodies responsible for law and order that fall under the Governor’s portfolio, include the Attorney General’s Chambers, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIP), Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) and the Courts. The National Security Council is also chaired by the Governor. While there is Ministerial representation on the National Security Council (i.e. Premier and Deputy Premier) and Her Majesty’s Customs and the Immigration Department play important roles in law enforcement, the internal security of the Territory is an area where the local Government can play a more substantive constitutional role . This could entail the creation of a Ministry of Justice headed by a local Attorney General, appointed by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission. Among other things, the Ministry would assume responsibility for internal security and oversee the BVI’s frontline law enforcement agencies. As the head of the Ministry, the Attorney General would serve as the most senior law enforcement official in the Territory and maintain the impartiality traditionally exercised in the role when discharging the responsibilities of office. The Attorney General would also continue to serve as a Member of Cabinet, Ex Officio Member of the House of Assembly and Ex-Officio Member of the National Security Council. These changes would not affect the structure and function of the National Security Council, which would remain the primary forum for addressing national security issues. In addition to these constitutional reforms, the Governor’s responsibility for the administration of the courts could be transferred to a constitutionally established independent Courts Administration Office, which would reinforce the independence of the judiciary as a branch of Government.


LOCA L B US I NE S S

Defence Defence is also a core constitutional responsibility of the UK, where some powers could be devolved to the local Government. Presently serious gaps exist in the BVI’s maritime security, due to the absence of a standing coast guard. The risks this poses to the Territory were exposed after the closure of the borders in March 2020, in response to COVID-19, when a surge in people smuggling took place between the BVI and United States Virgin Islands (USVI). To help fill the maritime security gap, the local Government created the Joint Task Force, comprised of officers from Her Majesty’s Customs, the Immigration Department and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force. The Joint Task Force’s ongoing success in maritime surveillance and interdiction, has demonstrated the capacity of local law enforcement to play a useful coast guard role in BVI waters, on the initiative and leadership of the local Government. As a long-term measure, the local Government could assume constitutional responsibility for a local coast guard to compensate for the limited ability of the UK to provide sustained naval support to the Territory.

Public service Constitutional responsibility for the Public Service presently sits with the Governor, but could be shifted to the local Government under an apolitical management structure, that protects the organisation’s integrity and operation. An independent Public Service Management Board (PSMB) could be constitutionally established to oversee the overall functioning and continuous improvement of the Public Service. The Board would appoint a Chief Operations Officer (COO) to run the day-to-day operations of the organisation. The PSMB would function as a largely independent body.

Fiscal affairs Finance remains a constitutional responsibility of the local Government. However, the BVI’s fiscal autonomy has been eroded by external agreements and arrangements with the UK that constrain fiscal policy. Local Government responsibility for finance could be reinforced by setting out in the Constitution the core values and principles of public financial management. As well as the basic fiscal rules that underpin local control over finance, which should remain the exclusive domain of the local Government.

As the exercise gets under way, what must be kept in clear view is the goal of strengthening and expanding self-government. UK-BVI constitutional relationship The BVI’s constitutional relationship with the UK remains imbalanced and has been the source of strains between the two sides. This could be addressed constitutionally, by rebalancing the roles of the Governor and Cabinet Ministers to improve cooperation and the functioning of Government. In the case of Cabinet, the Governor currently chairs the proceedings, but has no vote on policy decisions. This makes the Governor’s participation non-essential to the Cabinet decision-making process. As a practical matter, Cabinet could be chaired by the Premier as Head of Government Business, who in the Westminster style political system is traditionally Head of Government. However, this constitutional change would not preclude the Governor from receiving and commenting on Cabinet papers or affect the Governor’s role in assenting to bills. Constitutional reform should also include removing the Governor’s reserve powers, that when exercised allows the Governor to directly bypass Ministers of Government, the Cabinet, House of Assembly and general public. Power of this nature has no place in the governance of a democratic society in the 21st century and should not feature in the Constitution. Rebalancing the constitutional relationship between the BVI and UK, would also require adding a provision to the Constitution that legally constrains the UK Parliament from arbitrarily legislating for the Territory. Such an instance occurred in 2018, when the parliament passed the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill that imposed public registers of beneficial ownership on the OTs, which is anticipated to disproportionately affect the BVI. The Constitution should directly cite Article 73 and 74 of the United Nations Charter, that imparts a responsibility on the UK as the BVI’s Administering Power to help the Territory in its development of self-government and free political institutions and drive for economic advancement.

Conclusion The forthcoming Constitutional Review will be an important political undertaking for the British Virgin Islands at this stage in the Territory’s development. Identifying the desired constitutional reforms, will be the most critical aspect of the exercise, especially in regard to law and order, defence, management of the Public Service, fiscal affairs and the UK-BVI constitutional relationship. The success of the overall process, will very much depend on reaching a local consensus on a package of constitutional reforms, as well as on the UK’s appetite for the Territory to take further steps in the process of selfdetermination. A satisfactory outcome would be a new Constitution that is a substantive improvement on the current Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 in terms of strengthening and expanding self-government. This can be achieved if all stakeholders make a genuine effort to produce a Constitution, that would enable the BVI to continue to progress in the years ahead and position the Territory for the next stage of constitutional advancement. | BB

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LOCA L B US I NE S S

LOCAL BUSINESS

Economic crises: The new normal? Towards building a resilient BVI economy ECONOMIC IMPACT AND OUTLOOK PATLIAN JOHNSON

The Caribbean

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he 2020 global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping up to be one of the worst economic downturns in a century, with an expected prolonged road to recovery littered with many obstacles and uncertainties. Recovery hopes rest largely on the vaccine slowly being rolled out worldwide. However, the tsunami of new infections and deaths continue to place tremendous strain on health services, often resulting in reinstated lockdowns that are having damaging impacts on already limp economies. Undoubtedly, 2020 was a challenging year fraught with key questions for which there are no conclusive answers. When will we return to pre-COVID-19 conditions? How long will it take? How much will it cost? How painful will it be? The most recent IMF World Economic Outlook report (October 2020) projected a 4.4% decline in global economic growth in 2020 and posits a partial recovery to 2019 growth levels expected this year and full recovery probably extended to 2023. These projections are heavily caveated since it is difficult to predict: the path of the pandemic and thus associated disruptions to domestic activity; consumer confidence and demand; level of damage to supply chains; and financial market fluctuations and corresponding impacts on global capital flows.

For tourism dependent Caribbean economies like the BVI, the impact on the sector was immediate, and significant as a result of the shut-down of air and cruise travel to the region. This has been an immense blow to our already fragile economies. The decline in economic growth for the region reached double digits in 2020, higher than the global average and that of emerging and developing economies. Unemployment levels particularly in the service sectors are increased dramatically and much of the progress towards sustainable development that had been achieved over the last decade including reducing poverty and inequality has been undone. The recovery of the region is inextricably linked to what happens in tourism and how quickly the economies of our major markets – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe – fare. Equally relevant is whether those nations are able to properly manage future flare ups post their 2020-21 winter season. The OECD expected international tourism to decrease by about 80% in 2020, which equates to trillions of dollars in lost tourism revenue globally. The reality is that recovery to pre-COVID-19 global tourism numbers at this juncture is not expected until 2023 with ‘2021 being a critical year for the restart of tourism’. The success of this restart will dictate how the recovery evolves. The outlook for the tourism sector remains highly uncertain and the disruption to international travel caused by the pandemic has changed the tourism landscape. The success of the vaccine, the lifting of travel restrictions, traveler confidence, and the rebounding of developed economies will dictate how quickly tourism recovers. Return to business as usual is unlikely. The longer the crisis continues the more

businesses and jobs will be lost and the harder it becomes to rebuild the tourism economy. Governments in the region had to dig deep into their strained fiscal resources to dampen the impact, but at the expense of depleted government reserves and increased debt. These historically large fiscal policy responses came in the form of grants to businesses, social assistance, unemployment benefits etc. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimated the cost of social assistance and employment benefits at $1.2 billion for the Caribbean. The repercussions of this unprecedented Government spending will be impactful and must be addressed sometime in the future. Debt forgiveness or greater access to international assistance are important levers to manage the impact of stimulus spending. However, undoubtedly a crisis of this magnitude warranted such substantial responses.

The BVI The last few years have been a roller coaster ride for the BVI economy. In particular the tourism sector exhibited strong signs of growth after the devastating hurricanes of 2017. The injection of public and private capital (including insurance proceeds and donations) for infrastructure development bore fruit by helping to boost economic activity and creating a surge in employment, particularly in the construction sector. Despite ongoing external challenges from the uncertainties with BREXIT, economic substance requirements and concerns about public registers the financial services sector showed resilience and the wider economy was bouncing back.

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Expectations for 2020 was that there would be continued economic growth, return to pre-hurricane tourism arrival figures, expansion and improvement of tourism accommodation offerings, acceleration of post-Irma public infrastructural recovery projects and a greater focus on diversifying the economy through innovation and entrepreneurial activities. However, the BVI economy has been significantly weakened primarily by the halt in tourist arrivals and the wide knock-on effects in other sectors such as wholesale and retail, construction and transportation which lead to overall decline in economic activity. GDP for 2020 was estimated to fall by 13%. The biggest impact was expected in the tourism sector, and women will be the most vulnerable to these changes. The fallout from the crisis has also manifested itself through income losses, widening of the economic prosperity gap, labour force shrinkage as migrants return home, constrained learning and education caused by lost school hours and remote learning challenges, and failure of micro and small business enterprises. Stresses on the local banking sector have not been fully analysed but there is anecdotal evidence to suggest commercial and loan moratoriums and defaults could adversely impact balance sheets. Like most countries, the BVI Government expended additional resources on enhancing the health care services and also rolled out a relief package valued well over $40 million. The objective being to provide essential assistance to small businesses and vulnerable households and displaced employees. The programmes included grants to small businesses, deferred utility and rent payments, unemployment payments, subsidies and social assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis has resulted in a shift of our axis but provides another opportunity to recalibrate our economy and make it more resilient to external shocks. It appears that the BVI did not adequately capitalize on the ‘reset’ the disasters of 2017 afforded, but clearly the preponderance of external shocks (man-made or natural) must make us as a Territory rethink our economic model and make structural changes. We can start by building a more resilient tourism industry, strengthen public financial management structures, develop our infrastructure so that it is fit to facilitate business and economic expansion and aggressively pursue economic transformation in the form of digitisation, innovation and entrepreneurship.

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LOCA L B US I NE S S

SUSTAINABLE RECOVERY Building a more resilient tourism economy Rebuilding tourism must be a priority and resources must rally around developing a more sustainable and resilient industry and product. The short-term will require ensuring that critical businesses can survive this long period of limited income and disruptions. 2020 was a difficult year for all businesses but unfortunately, the 2020/2021 season will most probably not be substantial, therefore, the Government may be required to intervene to ensure the survival and readiness of local businesses for when traveller confidence increases and restrictions are removed, hopefully by 2022. The direct Government support could be in the form of loans with low or zero interest rates to bridge revenue losses and expenditure, technical assistance for business restructuring and direct income funding tied to a labour retention policy. Public-private collaboration is essential and could commence with upskilling current workers and training particularly locals to participate more meaningfully in the sector. In the interim to maintain the labour supply transferring displaced tourism workers to other industries such as the health sector that may require additional staff in the context of the pandemic response such as contract traces, cleaners and border control personnel. The crisis has provided us with an opportunity to rethink tourism for the future. We need to consider the longer-term implications of the crisis and promote the structural transformation needed to build a stronger tourism economy. The policy makers must have a coordinated knowledge based approach to mitigate the impacts on tourism and provide for a path to recovery and growth. The private sector is an integral component and must be incentivised and engaged since they have a better understanding of where the market is pivoting. The BVI could therefore capitalise on offering a niche product where persons can vacation in an environment that by its very nature facilitates social distancing marketing tailor-made excursions promoting health and safety. There will be a plethora of opportunities for innovative micro-businesses to service the needs of the discerning visitor. The destination is uniquely positioned to rise post COVID 19 if strategically managed. The pandemic could also be used to improve tourism’s environmental and social sustainability. This could include incentives for using new technologies that will alleviate pressure on our water resources, improve energy efficiency, promote renewable energy and strengthen the relationship between tourism and the agriculture and fishing industries.

Robust public financial management structures and practices Unforeseen external shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic can place tremendous strain on public finances, increase public debt and thus heighten exposure to other fiscal risks. Small economies like the BVI with fragile systems and limited access to an abundance of financing instruments makes it difficult to respond quickly to immediate funding needs in a crisis. Therefore, it is paramount that whatever limited resources that are available are efficiently utilised. A robust public financial management (PFM) system with the appropriate structures, systems and practices will ensure that especially in periods of increased Government spending resources are channeled to priority areas, targeted programmes are developed and periodic monitoring and evaluation of expenditure is carried out. Simultaneously, ensuring that the necessary governance systems such as Audit and the Public Accounts Committee are functioning. During ‘good times’ a good PFM framework will ensure that resources are channeled to the most productive uses, fiscal targets are reached and maintained, and surpluses are properly invested - incurring a return on investment. In years of crises these good PFM practices are invaluable thus allowing for the seamless reallocation and reprioritisation of funding to deal with any in-year negative fiscal changes while allowing for the timely identification of gaps and identifying the most appropriate source of financing. The Territory’s 2021 budget is one of the most important since it sets the foundation for recovery. It should reflect the gradual path to recovery setting aside resources to deal with any additional expenditure required to sure up our health sector and COVID-19 response mechanisms, invest heavily in tourism recovery and commence in earnest critical infrastructure development projects.

Investment in Public Infrastructure The major economic infrastructure of the BVI was in disrepair even before the massive destruction inflicted by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Some rehabilitation has been done particularly to our roads and seaports, but major deficiencies still exist. Since the current facilities are not sufficient to support a growing and transforming economy, a comprehensive and targeted Territory wide capital investment programme, which includes elements of green and energy efficient technology needs to be formulated and funding secured. This should be a priority and has the added benefit that a large public sector investment programme will bring to stimulating economic activity during this period of retracted growth. Priority areas include: • improving access to the Territory whether by upgrading the BVI airport to allow for direct flights from the US mainland and/ or improving our port facilities to accept larger volumes of international passengers from neighbouring US Virgin Islands and inter-island travel, as well as upgrading ferry transportation systems. • improving road safety and expanding road networks not only focusing on repairs in critical areas but also redesigning of the existing infrastructure and developing robust road maintenance plans. • repairing and expanding of the current water and sewerage networks, tackling the vulnerability of the electricity infrastructure to climate change impacts and investing in more forms of renewable energy for power generation. • investing in information and communication technology (ICT) including the development of the landscape to support digitisation and e-commerce. • improving telecommunication services, which is a critical component of the supporting infrastructure required to attract and retain targeted businesses. The longterm economic survival of the territory does not require an investment in a martial arts class in Jujitsu, but instead demands we invest in a well formulated and articulated strategic plan with precise objectives, augmented by the required longterm financing and human capital to move the plan to reality, for the longterm benefit of the people of the territory. | BB

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BRITISH

JURISDICTION OF CHOICEJURISDICTION OF CHOICE

WHY BVI?

Compliance with international regulatory standards Competitive start-up costs Innovative legislation Internationally renowned commercial court No currency controls Qualfied professional pool of practi tioners Strong partnership between public and private sectors

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VIRGIN

ISLANDS

Pioneering, innovative and leading the way in global business solutions, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is an internationally respected business and finance centre with a proven committment to connect markets, empower clients and facilitate investment, trade and capital flow.

3rd Floor, Cutlass Tower, Road Town, Tortola, BVI VG1110 T:+1(284) 852-1957 E: info@bvifinance.vg W: www.bvifinance.vg | www.bviglobalimpact.com


BVI Finance Members

BVI Finance also highlights the following members: CCS Trustees Limited and Crossroads Capital Trustee Limited. Logos not available at this time.

To become a member, contact us at info@bvifinance.vg

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Tourism

and regained freedoms

STAY THE COURSE: TOP TIER SERVICE AND SUSTAINABILITY


Tourism and regained freedoms

The BVI Top Dozen Vacation Villa Escapes

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ravellers’ planning a trip to the British Virgin Islands, have a vast array of accommodation options to choose from and they all provide a wonderful base from which to explore this beautiful archipelago. The BVI is renowned globally for its world class sailing, with a vast array of excellent charter yacht operators, as well as top tier land based options which include boutique beachside retreats such as the Sugar Mill, Sebastians, the Anegada Beach Club to luxurious and exclusive escapes like Guana Island, Oil Nut Bay and Rosewood Little Dix Bay. A sector that has really come into its own globally during the pandemic, is the vacation villa rental market, this as social distancing has not only entered our daily vernacular, but has become second nature to our every movement. The demand for a home away from home has seen a substantial increase in a sector that was already trending worldwide. The global pandemic is redefining how we live and is changing where we live and how we move around and interact with each other. The lines between travel, living and working are blurring. This is taking place as digital nomads are fast becoming a much sought after travel segment. At no point during any of our lifetimes, has the decision to stay at home or to leave home become so complex and intertwined. Finding the perfect base to enjoy some precious and much needed vacation time or a locale to relocate to whilst isolating longer term is paramount. Factors influencing these decisions include wanting to be in a low density environment, having access to exterior space, getting away from hotspots, getting together with family and friends and finding somewhere that’s conducive to working remotely. Families with young children living in New York City, singles working in their London attic, to multi generational groups longing to

come together after months apart are all searching for a place to relocate to for a few weeks, a few months or until further notice. The BVI’s portfolio of circa 350+ rental villas are perfectly positioned to cater to this new group of travellers. Wherever you are in the world there are a multitude of search engines and online platforms that will help to find the right villa. Airbnb, which went public on the 11th December 2020, after a very profitable third quarter, directly attributed to remote working activity and digital nomads, continue to have a strong footprint in the BVI. There are a number of platforms like VRBO, Where to Stay and BVI Traveler, where owners advertise themselves, as well as specialist booking agents (which includes Beautiful Places and Exceptional Villas) and exclusive travel clubs such as INSPIRATO that will work to match villas to specific needs. Rack and published rates can be subject to change, especially if you want to rent for a longer period, so it is always worth asking. All vacation villa revenue in the BVI is subject to a government tax (HAT) which is 10% of the agreed booking value. Some properties will also apply a service charge, which is shared with staff and this can be anything from 4%-10% of the rental value. As a rule, all utilities are included in the rack rate and some housekeeping, either daily or weekly. It is always worth asking if there are seasonal or current offers and what rates will be applied for a longer term booking. As part of the COVID-19 prevention and management protocols, effective 1st December 2020, all villas must have a Gold Seal Certification to enable them welcome guests. The accreditation is only awarded after the property has passed an inspection by the environmental health department and staff and concierge teams have received preventative training. This has

set a high standard for ensuring safety and wellbeing. The BVI currently has a fourday quarantine, during which time you are required to stay on-site at the villa. Property managers will ensure that you have a fully provisioned fridge on arrival and chefs can be asked for drop offs and/or takeaways can be ordered and delivered. And breathe! Put the challenges of the last year behind you and soak up the beauty and the peace until day five when you move around freely and enjoy all the pleasures the islands have to offer. What makes a villa rental in the BVI so special, is that more often than not, you are staying in someone’s much loved second (or third) home. BVI Property owners come from all over the world and include lawyers, medics, university professors, business owners and silicon-valley entrepreneurs, as well as a few Hollywood actors and entertainers. Many owners who are not in the BVI year round, open up their properties for short term rental, which means you can enjoy high level home comforts, as well as the tranquility, the beauty, and the warmth for which the BVI is known globally. The BVI has never been better placed to welcome visitors. Internet and Wi-Fi services have much improved, with many properties now benefiting from fibre optics, giving high bandwidth connectivity. In the aftermath of the 2017 storms, renovations and repairs upgraded the portfolio. Home farming has really taken hold and there is a steady supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. New operators have opened delicatessens importing specialty meats, seafood, wines and cheeses from all over the world. There is no better time to come to the BVI to experience our beautiful waters, deserted beaches and breathtaking sunsets, all from the comfort of your villa. Here we highlight our top 12 villas that offer everything you need during a vacation break or an extended stay.

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Tourism and regained freedoms

1

The Beach House www.oilnutbay.com/properties/the-beach-house

Virgin Gorda

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he Beach House, located at Oil Nut Bay, on the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda, is a truly breathtaking property. Oil Nut Bay itself is spread cross four hundred pristine acres and is entirely surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Accessible only by boat or helicopter, Oil Nut Bay is an exquisite and protected paradise for those seeking private island living experience at its finest. This striking six bedroom beachfront villa is stunning and allows guests to escape in style, while being merely just a stone throw from the beach and blues of Oil Nut Bay. A grand

atrium entry with floating steps leads to the Great Room entrance with main living area, fully equipped kitchen, sitting room and private office. All six bedrooms (two masters) have ensuites and walk in closets. The design is sleek and contemporary with floor to ceiling glass windows throughout, dark wood finishes and white marble accents. This is a beautiful retreat, with access to the beach club and amenities of Oil Nut Bay. The Beach House is very hard to beat.

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Nora Hazel Point www.norahazelpoint.com

Tortola

S

et within forty two acres this private waterfront estate provides total seclusion. It is within easy reach of the airport, the shops, bars and restaurants in town and the stunning beaches nearby. Two stunning properties showcase innovative and contemporary design and exemplary finishes. Nora Hazel House is set within lush landscaped grounds and

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is perfectly located to enjoy the BVI sunrise. Featuring six ensuite bedrooms with magnificent sea views, an infinity pool and alfresco dining area. Osprey House, a few moments walk away is perched on the cliff’s edge and has 270 degree views of the Sir Francis Drake Channel and the islands beyond. Featuring four bedrooms, an infinity pool and roll back glass doors that create a unique indoor/outdoor living space this property is about comfort and elegance. Both properties have studies, game rooms and exterior dining. Resident property management and chefs cater for every need or guests can choose to be independent or have a hybrid stay. If you want the quality and modernity of a South of France or Miami waterfront home with the warmth and elegance of Caribbean living, you cannot beat Nora Hazel Point.


Tourism and regained freedoms

3

Batu www.batubvi.com

Virgin Gorda

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uilt on one of the world’s most stunning dramatic shorelines, this villa embraces the very best of Virgin Gorda. It has been built on, and nestled between, magnificent boulders that date from the Tertiary period of geologic history (about 70 million years ago). There is a great house with exquisite living and dining rooms and a gourmet kitchen. There is also a media room/study. Perched around the main house are four standalone bedroom pods, all with king beds and ensuites, the primary bedroom boasts an outdoor shower that looks out across the ocean and the horizon. There is a pool where endless hours can be spent as well as sun decks and a gym.

4

Tingalayo www.tingalayobvi.com

Tortola

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ccasionally, very occasionally, you find somewhere that makes you think, this is as good as it gets. Tingalayo Villa is such a place. A luxurious six bedroom home perched atop the mountain at the end of a private road, Tingalayo is not so much a villa as a tiny, private hamlet of seven small buildings interwoven and connected with welcoming

outdoor spaces and beautiful gardens. Inspired by Balinese style, the cross-breezes flow throughout the over nine thousand square feet of understated elegance. There are multiple dining areas and at the centre of the property, is forty five foot infinity pool, with panoramic views of the beaches below and the archipelago beyond. This is the perfect base for a group of friends

or a multi-generational family. There is a boules court, a pool table, a media and games room, a gym and a yoga pavilion. The furnishing and décor are delightful, chosen by the caring and devoted owners. This is somewhere that you would happily quarantine in at for months on end. It is both restorative and inspiring.

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The Glass House www.glasshousebvi.com

Jost Van Dyke

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ost Van Dyke is only three square miles and is a little like going back in time, in that it is completely undeveloped and nature is the landmark. The Glass House is a labour of love, a dream come true for its innovative and creative owner. This is an architectural wonder, with stunning views

of the uniquely beautiful White Bay. The residence is designed with two master suites, each with a private ensuite, ocean views, and access to the upstairs balcony. Downstairs there are two more bedrooms with private ensuites, one with a King size bed, and the other with bunk beds and two queen size beds for all of the kids! The outer decks and infinity pool are designed to maximize one of the main reasons for building Glass House, the remarkable views of White Bay. To be this close to such an amazing swim beach is a truly unique experience and an easy stroll up the beach will take you to the infamous Soggy Dollar Bar and Hendo’s restaurant.

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Water’s Edge Villa www.oilnutbay.com/properties/waters-edge-ridge-villa

Virgin Gorda

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erched high on the North side of the Oil Nut Bay community, you will find Waters Edge Villa, a four bedroom property that has expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean, Anegada and Oil Nut Bay. Natural stone and glass elements reflect a contemporary décor. The Master Suite is complete with an ensuite bathroom, including an outdoor shower and soaking tub. Every comfort is considered in three

additional Guest Suites with ensuite bathrooms, outdoor patios and private entrances. With an inviting Great Room, the stunning property also includes large, glass pocket doors providing panoramic views, infinity pool and ample terrace space for outdoor dining and grilling. There is a stunning exterior dining pavilion, that is perfect for long lazy lunches whilst soaking up the sun and the endless views.


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Azure Wish www.bvitraveller.com/villas/azure-wish-villa

Virgin Gorda

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magine falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the waves, lapping gently on the shore just a few feet from where you are lying. This four bedroom property is on the private and secluded Nail Bay and oozes tranquility and elegance. Decorated in stunning blues and greens, this modern and contemporary villa will appeal to all ages. There are four bedrooms, two on the upper level and two on the lower level. There is a snug and play area as well as a bar and open plan living/dining and kitchen. There is a magnificent L shaped pool which overlooks palm trees and the ocean. This is the perfect base for beachcombers, adventurers, foodies, snorkelers and those who like to simply sit and read and relax. The exterior decks provide ample space for sunbathing or just sitting and watching the rays jump out at sea as the sun sets. The villa is a part of the Nail Bay community and included in the rental is use of the tennis courts nearby. A brisk walk or a two minute drive will take you to Sugar Cane, a restaurant that will take care of the cocktails and serve up magnificent lunches / dinners. This is a simply stunning base for those in need of a reminder of what really matters in life. It has everything, just bring a suitcase and be prepared to leave with a new perspective.

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Kerensa www.kerensavilla.com

Tortola

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erensa is the Cornish word for love and also the name of this stylish, secluded, one bedroom villa overlooking Brewers Bay. The villa, like love, can be tricky to find but delightful when you get there. It is found at the end of a meandering rustic track on a very private 2 acre lot bordering Shark Bay National Park, nestling neatly into the unspoilt landscape of mature trees and large boulders. A vanishing edge pool frames the panoramic view over the islands to the North West of Tortola and has been carefully positioned to reflect the dazzling sunsets. While it has been designed as a romantic retreat for couples, there is a pull-out sofa bed for extra guests in the main room, if required.. A spacious covered deck opens onto the pool and gardens complete with Gazebo, Barbecue and open fireplace. Hidden in the massive, foliage strewn boulders that cascade down the hill to the back of the house is a jacuzzi, reached via a winding stone path and lit up at night by twinkling fairy lights. Kerensa is a haven of serene and tranquil beauty in a hectic world a place to lose yourself, far from the maddening crowd.

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St. Bernard Hills House www.stbernardshillhouse.com

Tortola

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t. Bernard’s Hill House provides an amazing 300-degree bird’s eye view of the British (BVI) and U.S. Virgin Islands. Its lofty private hill top location invites cool trade winds to sweep across the generous verandahs, celebrating pampered outdoor island living in style. There are five bedrooms set within this lush oasis of royal palms. The main house has the master suite, as well as the grand living room, kitchen and interior and exterior dining rooms. Four additional bedrooms are in separate pods affording great comfort and privacy. All are joined by winding pathways and stunning landscaped gardens. There is a fully equipped and air conditioned gym and swimming pool with stunning views. This is a five star private eight acre estate, with full service availability. The property manager lives on the estate and is available to take care of whatever you need, from having chefs on-site, provisioning in advance and booking day trips on the water or exploring Virgin Gorda.

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M 10 Sol y Sombre www.solysombrebvi.com

Virgin Gorda

agical is a word that comes to mind as you walk through Sol y Sombre. Just a few footsteps away from stunning Little Trunk Bay this beautiful and timeless British colonial beachfront villa has five suites, each furnished with custom-made teak furniture. A great room, office/library, dining room and fully-outfitted kitchen offer spacious and elegant entertainment areas. A 45-foot ocean-front infinity pool, observation deck and lighted tennis court are set within over an acre of tropical gardens. The property is proximate to The Baths, Virgin Gorda’s famous destination, and two unspoiled beaches, Little Trunk Bay and Valley Trunk Bay. A private movie theater, daily maid service, exercise equipment and gym and a chef (upon request) complete the villa’s offerings. Sol y Sombre is a beautiful, expansive villa that delivers an unforgettable experience with all the details covered. Gym, tennis court, pool, chef, massages, kayaks and SUPs, Molton Brown toiletries and our daily staff can cover any special requests.


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Golden Pavilion

www.goldenpavilionvilla.com

Tortola

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rivately situated on four gated acres perched above quiet and secluded Little Bay, Tortola. This illustrious 5,000 square foot, Balinese-inspired villa has four bedrooms and four and a half baths in the main house and an additional Guest Cottage apartment with its own kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. The property features stunning 180 degree ocean views, heated infinity pool, hot tub, outdoor gas fire pit, second floor gallery with wet bar and pool table, media room with large flat screen TV and surround sound, office with fax/pc/wireless internet, a fully equipped gym, air conditioning in all primary rooms and a private chef. Traditional Indonesian sculptures, art, and furnishings fill the public spaces and the villa is decorated with a refined, distinctly British-Colonial flair. All bedrooms are elegantly appointed with imported four-poster beds, exotic fabrics, and heavy blackout draperies. Spa services are also available and boating and other outings can be arranged for your additional enjoyment. Golden Pavilion Villa is a unique property, unparalleled in Tortola. The villa presents Zen tranquility and privacy juxtaposed with modernity and meticulous details. Walking gardens, paths leading to sunken stone retreats and sitting areas nestled under mature plantings at cliff’s edge. Tropical birds ride warm breezes up the cliff to sip from the infinity pool. Turtles, rays and the occasional whale can be seen from the deck. Breathtaking views complement the highest building standards with imported granites, marbles, fittings, appliances and furnishings; Golden Pavilion comforts the eye and soothes the soul.

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Cooper Bay Villas www.villavacationsbvi.com/properties/cooper-bay-villa

Tortola

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itting at number twelve on our list, but Copper Bay Villa could just as comfortably been at the top! Last, but by no means least on this team of rivals. This is a world class property. Completed in the Spring of 2020, after a four year build, this property is architecturally stunning. Situated just above the stunning shore line this brand new build redefines luxury and contemporary island living. The views are of endless sea and sky. There is simply nothing to compare. Set upon 1.7 acres, Cooper Bay Villas have been designed with meticulous detail. Every product and finish is of the highest standard, from the coral stone tiles throughout to the glass balconies and the Bali inspired woven ceilings. This is an unrivalled family home, split across two villas,, a three bedroom main

house and a very private and secluded two bedroom guest villa. Both embrace this ocean peninsular with great elegance. They are separated by a unique and dramatic rock formation and the contrast of this natural sculpture and the modernity of the buildings is truly breathtaking. Both villas have been furnished with beautiful hard wood and stunning fabrics and the kitchens are fully equipped with all mod cons. Tropical landscaped gardens weave their way down from the private entrances and connect the two villas with a mixture of palms and exotic fruit trees. There is a viewing deck between the villas that lends itself to quiet meditation or cocktails at sunset. A cool breeze always sweeps across both villas, inviting you to relax all day in either one of their pools or adjoining sun terraces. This is heaven! | BB

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rowing up in the far west of the UK and joining the Boy Scouts in the late 1960s, I eagerly anticipated our annual summer camping trip. I have fond memories of nights under canvas, trail hikes, aerial runways, experiential learning and fireside tales. The global Scout movement has endured the passage of time thanks to the tenets of Lord Baden-Powell, who formed the organization more than 100 years ago. Summer camp adventures have been a vital component of youth education for more than a century. In 1973, a few years after I graduated from my Boy Scout troop experiences, a more bespoke outdoor adventure was coming into its own across the Atlantic. Mike Liese, a Math teacher at an alternative school for at-risk students in New York, was organizing an adventure program that would take place in the British Virgin Islands. The concept: to introduce young people to outdoor activities such as sailing and camping with a purpose of building self-esteem, confidence, and social skills against a Caribbean Island backdrop. Mike fondly recalls those very first few years and jokingly thanks Sir Richard Branson for allowing squatter’s rights to Necker Island at the time: “I would split the group. Half of them sailed around the islands and the other half camped out on Necker Island in a quasi-survival course with another adult group leader. At the end of the first week we swapped groups.” Mike followed this format for several years, and then in 1979 revamped the program and formed Sail Caribbean Teen Adventure Program. The initial adventure included a group of 14 international students. Nearly half a century on from his first visits to the BVI, Mike Liese maintains his commitment to youth empowerment through adventure programs and continues as Founder/Director of the program. The popularity of the islands as an experiential adventure destination has since encouraged similar teen programs to select the BVI as the venue of operations. During the 1980s and 1990s the islands witnessed the arrival of three more respected teen programs - ActionQuest, Odyssey Expeditions and SeaTrek BVI, each offering its own specialized adventure platform. In the United States alone, camping is an $18 billion industry according to the 2015 ACA Business Operations Report. The Summer Camps industry is tied closely to overall economic indicators such as per capita disposable income, population growth and leisure time. Children and adolescents from relatively affluent households are the primary customers of recreational and educational camps. Over the next four years through to 2024, the industry is expected to experience a marginal increase in the number of children and adolescents it serves, improving expenditure on recreational activities.

TOURISM AND REGAINED FREEDOMS

Summer sailing camps

A bespoke summer adventure for teens since the ‘70s MIKE ROWE

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Marine Tourism in the BVI is a major contributor to the economic and environmental sustainability of our tourism product. The staple consumer of Marine Tourism over the past two decades of my time in the BVI has essentially been the “baby boomer”, noticeably in the Charter Yacht and Dive Industries. The number of destinations for yacht chartering is increasing at a steady pace, driven by high demand. This growth has been fuelled in part by the introduction of power yachts. These preferences are especially reflected among the younger population. As millennials and Gen Zs are coming to adulthood, they represent a significant and potentially important new Marine Tourism consumer. These millennial, Gen Z consumers, reportedly, are also willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies/organizations that are committed to positive social and environmental impact and are likewise more loyal to these same organizations. Loyalty spells the opportunity for a potential repeat customer for years into


Tourism and regained freedoms

Information published in a recent report from the American Camp Association, a leading authority on youth development, reveals the following National Data and Statistics.

the future, not only for service providers, but also destinations of choice. A recent report from a Dive Industry Trade Journal states: “ millennials make up 27 percent of the U.S. population and 25 percent of the labor force. In 2020, they’ll be nearly half the workforce; and by 2030, they’re predicted to outspend baby boomers. And they are taking that spending power and putting it behind one of their passions—travel. More importantly for the dive tourism industry, millennial travelers are not doing the typical sun-andsand vacations or visiting welltouristed cities. Instead, they are adventurous, seeking experiences and looking for more remote [unspoiled] destinations”. With Travel and Tourism being one of the fastest growing sectors globally, parents/consumers looking for teen summer programs choose their activities and destinations very wisely. Traditionally more than 1,000 teens (13–18 yrs.) travel to the BVI on the above-mentioned programs each summer. These are tomorrow’s consumers; committed to community service, ocean conservation, environmental awareness and seeking experiential education in a pristine environment. These young adults are already ambassadors for the destination. Their attachment to social media is one of our most valuable (untapped) marketing assets. Voluntourism is another evolving motivator for Millennials and Gen Zs. They are committed to causes and opportunities that support projects which preserve, conserve, and contribute to the overall betterment of a community, group,

cause or effort. Advocates for marine tourism will benefit from any promotional effort that encourages an element of “Voluntourism”. The key values of the teen summer programs are already socially, economically, and environmentally focused: “While tacking up the Drake [Channel] on a sunny afternoon, it’s perhaps not directly observable how our wake crosses with that of the broader BVI community. We encourage our students to dig a little deeper to understand the contribution that they can make. The most recognizable impact is financial, directly to the government for the Cruising Permits, National Parks and Environment Fees, but also the charter companies, the supermarkets, restaurants, taxi drivers, ferry companies, laundry services, clinics, and stores. Perhaps not so noticeable are the hours we ask our students to dedicate back to the community. We are always looking for ways to contribute, whether through a lick of paint, replanting damaged mangroves, roofing a house, or helping teach a young child to swim. The BVI has always felt like our home away from home, so being allowed to involve ourselves within the community is a huge privilege. Every summer, we bump into our alumni on the water in the BVI. Some are younger, dragging their parents down to experience the place that ‘changed their lives’. Others are now parents themselves, returning to the BVI to reconnect with a place that was influential in their development from the child they once were to the adults they became.” - Mike Meighan Executive Director of ActionQuest

Given that the BVI Tourism product is subject to peaks and valleys of seasonality, there are numerous economic benefits of the summer teen programs in addition to the fact that Marine Tourism generates significant employment and business opportunities. At present two of the BVI Charter Companies cater to the requests of the summer teen programs; the Moorings Group commanding the lion’s share, and Dream Yacht Charters accommodating 25% of the programs. Estimates received from both companies indicate that more than 120 yachts are chartered during the summer months. This staggering number translates to approximately 350 charter weeks, which is an amount not to be sneezed at. “The advantage for the charter companies providing yachts to the summer programs is that they charter the yachts throughout the entire summer, including low season, when the business is greatly appreciated. Many of the student’s families return for family holidays aboard our yachts, adding to our loyal customer base”.

More than 14,000 day and resident camps exist in the United States - 8,400 are resident (overnight) and 5,600 are day camps. (2017 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)

Each year more than 14 million children and adults attend camp in the U.S. (2013 ACA Camp Compensation and Benefits Report)

Camps employ more than 1.5 million staff to work in various positions. (2016 ACA Camp Compensation and Benefits Report)

Half of all camps report having community service or good deed programs incorporated into their programs. The top projects conducted at camps were community clean-ups, and recycling programs.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of camps report some relationship to schools or school curricula. One out of every five camps partner directly with schools as part of their academic programs during the school year. New partnerships with school systems are emerging to help children retain learning over the summer. (2017 ACA Sites, Facilities, Programs Report)

Enrollment Trends: 82% of camps report enrollment that stayed the same or increased within the past five years, and 50% of camps are reportedly 90-99% full. (ACA Fall 2016 Enrollment Survey)

- Barbara Daetwyler CTC Group & Incentive Sales Account Executive

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“Introducing sailing to the next generation has been an important part of our partnership strategy and we’ve supported a number of youth initiatives. We supply boats to one of our partners, Sail Caribbean, who empower teens through flotilla sailing adventures in the BVIs during the summer months. It is such a wonderful idea to give children a hands-on experience aimed at beginners within a secure environment. These adventures offer young people the chance to learn important sailing skills, work together as a team and improve communication. The last two are transferable skills that will come in useful throughout their lives among a generation who are often locked in a digital world. Being on the water also helps wellbeing, relaxing busy minds and learning to adapt to rapidly changing situations with calm and logic. As well as developing the next generation of sailors, our partnerships also bring new visitors to the BVIs who may not have heard of the islands before. The BVIs is a ‘bucket list’ sailing destination and has a loyal fan base among our customers. It is great to see new, young people enjoying BVI island life and sharing their memories with their families, encouraging them to visit the islands too. We hope that many more young people will return to the BVIs to feel the thrill and freedom of being on the open water among paradise islands”. - Dan Lockyer VP Global Tourism, Dream Yacht Charters

The BVI summer teen adventure community service programs are also an asset to our Marine Tourism industry. Specifically, their commitment to organizations such as VISAR, YEP, National Parks, Association of Reef Keepers and Green VI generates a vested interest in protecting the environment with all tourism industry partners. Because of this, the long-term sustainability of the marine tourism industry will be directly reflected in the long-term survival of our industry partners’ respective livelihoods. Indirect contributions are derived by those partners from goods and services supplied: souvenirs, provisions, restaurants, hotels, transportation, tour operator services etc. “Between the money we spend on boats/ food/fuel/taxis/warehouses/vehicles we own on island/taxes/permits etc., I feel we make a large contribution to the local economy. For the promotion of tourism I estimate we spend close to $200k on advertisement every year touting how great the BVI are for safety, awesome sailing and great diving”. - Captain Monk Director SeaTrek BVI

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And it does not stop there. The young men and women in these programs who visit the BVI, reportedly want a more experiential encounter with the destination and the people. They are among the majority of resort/charter/dive guests who return on a regular basis, to not only enjoy the aesthetics of the location, but perhaps more importantly to enjoy the cultural exchange between themselves and their hosts. They are also seeking experiences that are more than just sand and sea but are truly informative, educational, engaging, and inspiring. As a direct result, BVIslanders can increase their influence on tourism development, as well as improve their jobs and earning opportunities. In summary we must recognize that for our visiting tourists, whether they be a teen camper, adult charter group, hotel or villa guest, the motivation for selecting the BVI is never the quality of the “golf courses and night life”, but rather the relatively undisturbed natural aesthetics of the islands. We must expand on that quality to sustain our existing tourism base and to continue to attract today’s experiential nature-based, environmentally conscientious traveller. Adventurous teens make up a large and lucrative segment of the overall BVI tourism market a market segment where the destination has a differential advantage, hence the territory should invest more in attracting them to the islands. An investment with the potential to pay dividends for years to come if managed well.

2020 reflections

The COVID-19 pandemic catastrophically affected the tourism industry worldwide, and amid this global upheaval the tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit economic sectors in the BVI. Subsequent to border closing on March 22nd to visitors, the announcement of the BVI Love marketing campaign and the reopening of the borders on Dec 1st was welcoming news.

During the initial phases of closure, a valuable sector of our Charter Industry, the summer teen adventure programs, stayed patient as long as they could. Then ultimately made the difficult, however necessary, decision to cancel all teen activities in the BVI for 2020. “After 40 years in the BVI, Sail Caribbean having to cancel our summer sailing and scuba diving camp in 2020 was a great disappointment to our many families. They look forward to their teens coming to the BVI each summer. Most encouraging is the large number of families who are already committed to joining us in 2021!” - Mike Liese Founder/Director Sail Caribbean “We could not have been more in awe of the support and understanding our families displayed during this challenging period. Over sixty percent of our families selected to roll their program to 2021, reinforcing their commitment to giving their child the life-changing experiences” - Mike Meagan Executive Director ActionQuest

Reassuring comments for the industry supported by a quote from Captain Monk SeaTrekBVI. “As far as 2021 we are on track to running a full program. Over 2/3 of our families that had committed to 2020 just moved over to 2021”. The BVI teen programs in 2021 will operate under the new normal. The safety and wellbeing of the teens enrolled each year will always be their top priority. Core values will remain the same, all programs offering a transformational experience for building relationship skills and a sense of belonging. We will welcome these young BVI ambassadors back to our shores with BVI Love and perhaps today, more than ever realize a need for our youth to develop mental and emotional fortitude during this time. A summer adventure camp in the BVI can be instrumental in that effort. | BB


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What’s trending in villa design at a local & international level OBMI

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hile the need for privacy and a sense of escape have been top considerations of the high-net-worth individual’s travel and real estate checklist, the pandemic has caused a surge in interest for secluded retreats across the board. With its warm weather, isolation, and low COVID-19 infection rates, the Caribbean is more in demand than ever among investors and second-home seekers. Just as buyers in the Unites States markets have shifted their property searches to larger spaces and commensurately increased their budgets, the villa market in the Caribbean has also experienced an increased demand from new buyers and existing owners looking to build their safe haven or upgrade their existing property to meet growing consumer demands. This has given designers a shot in the

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Rainbow and Halo Guest Villas in Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

arm with a renewed focus on creating unique features and crafting a space that will meet the owner’s long-term needs. In the BVI villa market, we see a few different types of buyers showing interest. The two most popular buyers are families seeking a legacy space and investors looking to design an appealing rental property that can rise above the competition. No matter the buyer, great villa design should provide the feel and comfort of home, but in a tropical location where guests or owners can stay for extended periods while maintaining routines. Naturally, every home design should be highly functional and a little bit indulgent, but this is exceptionally true when creating a “home away from home” vacation property or a top tier rental experience.


Tourism and regained freedoms

Choosing a private site

Design with mother nature in mind

When looking to purchase a property, a homeowner that places a high value on privacy should consider peninsula and cliffside locations. Homes built on a peninsula provide a feeling of being on a private island with unobstructed ocean views, while still having easy access to nearby amenities. The Caribbean’s mountainous terrain offers the opportunity to conceal homes with the surrounding nature by building into the cliffside. It’s essential to work with your architect to balance the built environment and the natural environment without dominating the landscape during the design phase.

The true experience of “getting away from it all” includes an immersion in the local environment. As architects, we love the challenge of creating a vacation home that has all the creature comforts of our modern world while simultaneously embracing the environment, climate, and culture. In the Caribbean, this means utilizing natural materials that incorporate the colours found in the natural environment, while the interiors feature broad expanses of glass to showcase the hues of the sea. Glass walls, multi-level living spaces, local stone cladding, wood details, and copper roofs not only embrace the climate but make it seem like the home was always part of the landscape.

Owning a luxury villa in the Caribbean may be the dream for those looking to escape the pandemic, but for the ultra rich, they have set their sights beyond the standard villa to the idea of owning a private island paradise. Although creating a self-sufficient island is no easy feat, this type of buyer wants the ultimate assurance that no one will cruise up and infringe on their isolation. OBMI CEO, Doug Kulig, shares some crucial steps to successfully developing private islands through his years of experience. Kulig suggests completing the myriad approvals for regulations, restrictions, and processes prior to purchasing. Figuring out what you want to do with the island is the more fun part of the development process. Do you want the house designed as an informal bungalow with indoor/outdoor spaces, or do you want something more formal? “We talk about lifestyle,” Kulig says. “When are people going to use the island, and how are they going to use it? It’s more than just whimsy. If you’re considering a wooden beach-house type of structure, you want to consider storm impacts in the area,” says Kulig.

Above all else, preserving our natural environment is a top priority, and land across the BVI presents unique conservation challenges. Virgin Gorda’s legendary boulders can offer a fun opportunity to incorporate them into the overall aesthetic rather than removing them. As seen in Bayhouse Villa, the sleek architecture is sharply defined against the softer surrounding landscape, offering a dynamic contrast while preserving the natural surroundings. The mountainous terrain of the region presents as many design opportunities as challenges. Large green roofs are a smart design feature to retain a portion of a mountainside while also aiding in capturing water runoff. In the plan of Oil Nut Bay’s The Cliff Suites, OBMI incorporated biophilic design strategies by including a natural living green roof. By thoughtfully planting native vegetation, the design lessens the environmental impact on this dramatic natural setting. Sitting in an elevated position above the island’s renowned beaches, positions a villa to be a stunning secluded retreat. A great layout to accommodate a variety of living areas and bedroom suites is a design with a series of private, stepped pavilions capturing the feeling of indoor and outdoor Caribbean living. With all the elevated properties and limited availability of beachfront properties in the BVI, large outdoor terraces with a private pool are still among the most highly requested design features and methods to embrace gentle sea breezes and capture the breathtaking expansive views.

Villa Maronti in Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

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New trend for master bedroom suites The master suite is more than a suite – it’s a sanctuary, calm and cool. New constructions are now featuring master suites with their own office and media room, often completely isolated from the rest of the residence. To reach these private sanctuaries, we have been incorporating covered breezeways with access stairways that lead to shared spaces and additional expansive bedrooms. Today’s competitive market calls for each bedroom to feature bright, natural light, spectacular views, and the newest mandates of en suite baths and private outdoor terraces. While we still see the standard villa include anywhere from three to five-bedrooms, one growing trend we have incorporated into recent designs is a residence with dual master suites. For permanent residences, this is a great solution to accommodate multi-generational families. For vacation homes, this is an excellent resolution to host friends comfortably while visiting the island.

Prioritizing wellness Today more than ever, we understand and appreciate the need to tackle the tough task of bridging the gap between the desire for connectivity and ease with a need for rest and “unplugging” that our society craves. Wellness and a healthy lifestyle are undoubtedly one of the dominant trends in vogue around the world. As awareness and attention to health increases, so does the demand for the buildings in which we live, work, and play to be designed to improve health, mind, and well-being. As the collective shifts towards a new holistic well-being model, homes beautifully designed with wellness at their core and centred around a healthy lifestyle are in high demand. By now, we all know that low access to daylight can be detrimental to our health. Passive lighting, ample windows, or lighting that imitates daylight are easy ways to boost occupants’ general wellness and increase productivity. Kitchens will increasingly be designed to store and even showcase fresh, organic products. We may see some changes in the coming year: the walk-in pantry transforming into a walk-in hydroponic farm and large interactive centre islands with several designated stations for food prepping, cutting, and dehydration, an essential method of cooking for vegans. Along with eating well and spending time in or around nature, fitness is essential to mental and physical health. In-home gyms’ current trend is acquiring less equipment but filling the space with machines that focus on functional movement and concentric fitness, emphasizing recovery and stretching. OBMI Chairman Tim Peck recently discussed how wellness is being approached differently at the firm. Far beyond the idea of a typical spa concept, he revealed OBMI’s designers are looking into the idea of biohacking as the next wave in wellness design. “For so long a variety of fields have focused on improvements to the physical body as the quickest method to improve human health. However, research digging into biohacking has pointed to our biology’s intangible chemical factors, such as emotions and thoughts, as the most impactful way to alter our wellbeing.” noted Peck. “By gaining a better understanding of the way in which our systems work together, we as designers can now interject and tweak these dials of thoughts and emotions to create spaces that properly stimulate and enhance our overall health. A novel idea that we are excited to continue to explore.”

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Casa del Cielo, Cayman Islands


Villa Maronti in Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

The Cliff Penthouse Suite in Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

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Villa Katsura in Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda British Virgin Islands

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Villa Katsura in Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda British Virgin Islands

Rainbow Guest Villa in Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

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Villa Neveah, Long Bay, Anguilla

Bayhouse Villa, Crooks Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Waters Edge Villa in Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

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Technology integration When thinking about incorporating smart home technology into the design of a vacation home or rental villa, it’s best to consider how often it will be used and the areas that will be utilized most often. If entertaining is an important part of the desired lifestyle, ample space, and unique technological touches can make a home extraordinary. As technology forges ahead at breakneck speed, there are numerous ways to incorporate these new features into homes that make living in them easier, safer, and more affordable. Saving on utility bills is a simple way to enjoy smart home technology. From learning thermostats to smart light bulbs that automatically turn on and off depending on a room’s activity, it’s obvious how these technologies could be especially beneficial in a rental home. Security cameras that can be accessed via smartphone or tablet while away from the property can also allow for peace of mind when the house is not occupied.

About OBMI: OBMI is a global architecture firm widely celebrated for creating distinctive designs for high-end hotels, luxury private residences, and engaging urban areas. Since 1936, our mission has been to collaborate with clients to transform their visions into three-dimensional forms that are authentic to their location and incomparably marketable. Through several global design studios, we offer an integrated approach that combines responsive design strategies, the latest innovations, and technical expertise to create experientially memorable, environmentally responsible, and financially successful destinations.

Heading home In the ever-evolving world of design, it can be challenging to stay on top of the latest trends. Villas are where you can spend a relaxing vacation amidst an organic setting. In the BVI, designers will always look to create more open spaces for free movement of air and light so that owners can connect with our beautiful landscape. As a homeowner, when looking at where to invest in your design, it always pays off to focus on solutions that cater to the wellness of those who occupy the space and preserve the surrounding natural environment. | BB

Villa Maronti in Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

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APRIL 2021


WHAT A TIME TO BE A WOMAN SHARON FLAX BRUTUS

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hat a time to be a woman! We are finally getting closer towards the precipice of equality and it is a great feeling. I am gratified and humbled to have been afforded the privilege to author the sectional preface of Business BVI, which features and is dedicated to Women in Leadership roles in The British Virgin Islands. This editorial, which profiles some 23 women in the private and public sectors is very timely, as less than a year ago, I was scheduled to give a presentation at a conference called Women Striving for Success. That was not to be, as COVID-19 reared its ugly and fearsome head out of nowhere and changed our world. My presentation was to be entitled ‘Daring Greatly while Navigating the Waves.’ In retrospect, the time was not quite right for that...but the time is now…and I am delighted to pen this editorial.

Women have indeed dared greatly, and we are now at the pinnacle of leadership globally, in many spheres. In recent times we have seen women transcend and assume at the seat of power in Germany, New Zealand, Denmark, the United States and in the wider Caribbean. Today, we see more women become stateswomen, elected as congresswomen, senators and Members of Parliaments and Legislatures the world over. Just a few weeks ago, we heard of the first all female flight crew making history, flying a Boeing 737 on their first domestic flight in Afghanistan, a country where women’s rights are hard fought for. Wow! As the world navigates the current COVID pandemic, it is most noticeable that several of the countries which have to-date successfully managed the spread of the virus, are led by women. Here in our beloved BVI, although a patriarchal society...women are climbing the ladders to success both in the private and public sectors while being innovative and precedent setting in their achievements and leadership styles. This, however, has not been without its challenges and setbacks. Many women can recall the negative connotations and the harassment in the workplace and even at home. We can explain about having to make choices between family and career…choices that most of our male counterparts did not have to give a second thought. This is why we dare greatly. We have dared to show up…we have dared to work harder…we have dared to make the tough choices…we have dared to stand out…and most importantly we have dared to pierce that glass ceiling and we have dared to perform a trapeze balancing act across the glass cliffs. We have dared to step out and make our voices and our ideas known, at times in a vast sea of sameness. In this edition of Business BVI you will meet women who dared to think equality and who dared to build smart and innovate for change. We will meet women who fought against the old and young boys’ network and we will meet women who are at times quietly, but without doubt, the new movers and shakers in the British Virgin Islands. Women who dared to be different. These women have brought and continue to bring dynamic leadership to The BVI space and have received accolades locally, regionally and internationally. As women, we have been successful because we recognize that we live in a dynamic and ever changing world, but we also recognize that at the core of precedent setting and innovative leadership there must be empathy. There must be leadership with humanity in mind and that we must help other women to become emboldened in their own truth. Last fall, it was awe inspiring and well worth the very long wait to hear the first woman elected as Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris uttered the words ‘While I may be the first, I will not be the last’ and even more inspiring to know that “having her back” were other leaders Becca Siegal, Stacey Abrams, Kruzander Scott and Brittany Smalls – women in the background who all contributed to a new chapter in global history. It was also impressive and so rewarding to see that President Biden has chosen another woman, Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Greater Virgin Islander as Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Advisory Board. The women in these pages empower other women! It’s not so much that they are powerful women in the normal context of the word – instead they may best be described as women with authentic power…women who have aligned their personality which serves the soul….and their soul says that they are leaders of others who look to them to continue the quest. These ladies here took great risks… they dared to risk…they dared greatly. Now we can and we will. We have the right to take an equal seat at the table, to lead and to be role models for future female leaders. We are now confident to stand our ground in any male dominated arena and make our voices heard. Lest we forget, 2020 was the 100th Anniversary of women winning the right to vote in The United States. And as Mia Mottley, the first female Prime Minister of Barbados aptly stated “There can be no sustainable development that precludes the progress of women…There can be no sustainable development that is premised on discrimination. There can be no sustainable development that precludes opportunity” She stands on the shoulders of Dame Eugenia Charles, Portia SimpsonMiller, our own Dame Janice Pereira and many other regional women who had the courage to provide precedent setting leadership that led to innovation and change and continues to serve as role models for many women and young girls today. My congratulations to the Business BVI team who has recognized leadership and has placed it front and centre. What a time to be a woman! I dedicate this editorial to my mother Norma Henry Flax who would say without apology “What a Time to be a Woman.”

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APRIL 2021


ELISE DONOVAN

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lise Donovan is the chief executive officer of BVI Finance, the organisation representing the British Virgin Islands’ (BVI) financial services sector. In her current position as CEO, Elise has been spearheading the mission to drive global attention to the jurisdiction’s competitive advantages, and to promote the BVI as one of the world’s leading international financial centres, facilitating global trade and investment. As one of the twin pillars of the BVI, the financial services sector is of paramount importance to the nation’s economy. Therefore, BVI Finance works with the sector and alongside the BVI Government to protect the reputation of the jurisdiction and its leading position as a leading financial services centre.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Curiosity is important in a constantly changing environment. Not only do we have to be nimble and adaptable to change, but we also have to be curious about the back story as well as the next story – why it is happening and how it is going to unfold.

Elise has played a major role in expanding and deepening the BVI’s financial services footprint in cities around world, and specifically in the Asia Pacific region, through strategic relationship building, conducting road shows, forums and seminars on the BVI’s financial services business, including at major financial institutions. Having spent four and a half years as the Director of BVI House Asia, the representative office of the Government of the BVI in Asia Pacific; a stint as the EU/ UK Representative and Director of the BVI London Office; as well as other leading international roles, Elise has an innate passion, dedication and personal commitment to the BVI and all things BVI related. In reaching the position that she is in today, Elise has lived, worked, and studied in diverse environments, varying roles, and major cities across the globe from New York, Ottawa, Washington DC, Lagos, Abuja, Johannesburg to London and Hong Kong. She has been an adjunct lecturer both at HLSCC and at the City University of New York. She has also travelled to more than 40 countries across six continents but still has a keen desire to explore more of the world. Despite self-identifying as a globalist who understands our interconnectivity across the world, Elise derives her motivation from protecting what she describes as some of the most special dots of islands sprinkled in the Caribbean Sea. As a multigenerational Virgin Islander, Elise is fervent about working to protect the future of the BVI for both this generation, and for generations to come. As such, Elise continues to be excited about the future of the BVI. However, for the jurisdiction to continue to be successful on a global scale, she believes that the BVI needs to continue to innovate, to focus on its public image, embrace digital disruption, and to prioritise its human resource potential. More importantly, she believes that the BVI must have the confidence to do what is in the country’s best interest and to move out of its comfort zone. She is under no illusion that moving the BVI to that level of confidence will happen overnight, as it may be a decade or more before the country gets there. But she says, when looking at the evolving global landscape, “yesterday’s unthinkable, is today’s imperative.” The importance of diversifying and building future relationships, are as important as maintaining existing ones for Elise. In her role as CEO, Elise is keen on exploring new strategic relationships with African businesses and strengthening relationships with those in Asia. She maintains that the BVI must be looking for new ways to ensure that it is evolving with the times, and navigating the complexities of the geopolitical landscape. Over the last ten years, Elise has been at the wheel, as the BVI has had to navigate issues and crises ranging from the 2013 leaks, the Panama and Paradise papers, through to the challenge of opening bank accounts, which has been one of the biggest impediments to financial services business in the BVI. However, throughout all of these challenges, Elise has grown more resolute about the BVI and its ability to weather storms. She says, “The BVI is The Little Engine That Could,” referencing the story of optimism, sheer grit and determination.

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“My wish for the BVI is to have the confidence to do what is absolutely necessary for the BVI to realize its full potential.”

Embracing the digital. In 2020, we saw the digital disruption take full throttle, so employing digital strategies was the most effective way to navigate through 2020. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

I fell way short of my reading two books a month 2020 resolution, but there were a couple of books that I read that were impactful: Early in the year, Stephen Schwarzman’s biography - What it takes – Lessons in pursuit of excellence; mid-year, Sarah Jakes Roberts – Don’t settle for safe: Embracing the uncomfortable to become unstoppable; and at the end of the year (in progress) Les and Tamara Payne’s The Dead are Arising – The Life of Malcolm X. These three books covered the professional, spiritual and personal spheres, but as a life-long student of Malcolm X, I’m finding the Dead are Arising most enlightening. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

A super clean and beautiful BVI! Generally though, my wish for the BVI is to have the confidence to do what is absolutely necessary for us to realize its full potential and to not be afraid of going on a path that’s going to get us there, although we may be on the road by ourselves. What keeps you up at night?

I’m currently suffering from chronic insomnia, so it is the confluence of all things that remain unclear.

As a strong believer, Elise has relied on her faith in God to help her navigate her path, and has drawn on her multiplicity of experiences, beyond just her professional journey, to enable her to continue to break barriers and strengthen her character. At times, it has been exhausting and overwhelming, but she perseveres for the love of the BVI and, like the Little Engine, repeats the mantra, “I think I can, I think I can.”

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APRIL 2021


HON. DAWN J. SMITH

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onourable Dawn J. Smith, Virgin islander, is the British Virgin Islands new Attorney General who was appointed on October 1, 2020.

She will tell you that she did not make herself. Nearly 50 years ago, she was born at what was then Peebles Hospital on what she believes was the happiest day of her parents’ life. Naturally, she says that her parents Bennet and Alphagena Smith cannot admit to this as they have three other children—all of whom have made them very proud. She –on the other hand, decided to become a lawyer! Under the care and tending of her parents, teachers, community and extended family, she made her way through the public school system—the East End Primary School and the BVI High School. As the valedictorian of the BVI High School Class of 1988, she was awarded Government funded scholarships that, together with her parents’ contributions supported her over nine years of tertiary education. “I tried my best throughout not to disappoint and on completion of my studies, I was happy to return home. I have no regret whatsoever that I did,” she said, adding, “I was fortunate to be welcomed to the Bar even before I was called to the Bar.” After being admitted to practice, Honourable Smith saw the kaleidoscope of life and law through property and bank transactions, wills and probate, admiralty, divorces, adoptions, debt collection, corporate work, litigation and whatever else came her way. Her seniors and contemporaries at the Bar would challenge her as an opponent, yet remind her to notch every win in her desk, no matter how small. Even the court staff would give her tips on presenting her cases. “It seems as if everyone pitched in,” she said with a smile. She has learned a lot from many people. From them, she learned that all of us contribute to the existence of each other, that we must use what talents we have and not let others define us, not to fear adversity and to cherish visions, dreams and an independent spirit. “This is not to say that there were no difficult or ‘interesting times’ or people who were not so nice. In fact, there were many and I expect that there will be many more, but I have long resolved in the words of the prayer that some of us know: ….to do my allotted task with unflagging faithfulness… to be gentle in the face of ingratitude or when slander distorts my noble motives,…to come to the end of each day with a feeling that I have used its gifts gratefully and faced its trials bravely…” She understands that being the Attorney General comes with a plethora and variety of responsibilities and requires a combination of independence, expertise and seniority. Our Constitution tells us that the AG is appointed in

accordance with section 95 on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, and is the principal legal adviser to the Government, among other things. The AG is an ex officio member of Cabinet, the House of Assembly and the National Security Council, and a member of the Prerogative of Mercy Committee. Apart from the Constitution, several laws prescribe responsibilities for the AG in addition to performing as a lawyer with the professional obligations of a legal practitioner, as an officer of the Court, as the titular head of the Bar, and as the legal representative of her client—the Government of the Virgin Islands. She also manages the operations of the Attorney General’s Chambers. She holds a Certificate of Legal Education from Norman Manley Law School in Kingston, Jamaica; Bachelor of Laws, Upper Second Class Honours from University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados; and Bachelor of Liberal Arts, cum laude with Highest Honours in Sociology-Anthropology from Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, USA. Ms. Smith previously served as General Counsel at the Financial Services Commission (FSC) from 2013 to 2020 and was the advisor to the BVI International Arbitration Centre from its inception until she took up the post of AG. She was seconded to Premier’s Office as Acting Permanent Secretary from 2017 to 2019, where she handled the strategic management and administration of the Premier’s Office, and served as an ex-officio member on statutory boards and organisations such as the BVI Tourist Board and BVI Finance. She also has prior professional experience as attorney at Conyers Dill & Pearman, from 2002 to 2006 and again from 2009 to 2012; as Director, London Office, 2006 to 2009; and as Attorney at O’Neal Webster O’Neal Myers Fletcher & Gordon, 1997 to 2001. Her current professional credentials and memberships include Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, Arbitral Women, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Solicitor, Supreme Court of England & Wales (non-practising), Notary Public for the Virgin Islands, Member, BVI Bar Association and Barrister, Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Virgin Islands). Ms. Smith has also made varied community contributions, including to the Intellectual Property Review Committee, BVI Reading Council, the Public Service Commission, the Court Review Committee and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (BVI Chapter), amongst many others. We end by saying that the Honourable Dawn J. Smith, as she said, did not make herself. “My being the Attorney General means many things to many people. I know from the outpouring of support, good wishes and prayers that I represent not just myself, but the people who have made me what I am (for better or worse), those who share my experiences, those who wish me well and those who are depending on me to perform my responsibilities to the highest standard.”

“You have to be properly informed to make good decisions.”

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

At the very top. You have to be properly informed to make good decisions. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Press on, regardless. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

A Life on Our Planet by Sir David Attenborough. I was intrigued by his witness statement and I am very much on board with his sobering, but optimistic message about why we need to re-wild the world. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

A data-empowered and responsive Public Service. What keeps you up at night?

My excitement about the untapped potential of the Virgin Islands and its people.

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JANICE SKELTON

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

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Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Admittedly it is not on my core list of traits. However, I do find it critical as I consider new opportunities or identify anomalies. So, short answer is, it has its place; being curious leads me to question the why, what, if and how in my decision-making processes.

anice Skelton has served as the Managing Director for Newhaven Corporate Services, a fiduciary and corporate trust service provider, since 2005. She provides leadership and oversight for a team of ten professionals in ensuring that the firm’s global trust and corporate objectives are met. The Buck stops with her for responsibility for the overall performance of the company, and the day to day management of the firm’s activities under delegated authority from the Board. Janice is no stranger to leading the charge, having assumed leadership roles for over 30 years in the British Virgin Islands, beginning as an office administrator and corporate supervisor for the offshore law firm Harney Westwood & Riegels now Harneys. She held that position between 1987 and 1991, where she displayed strong interpersonal and communication skills. Next Mrs. Skelton advanced and fulfilled the role of an office accountant at Deloitte & Touche between 1991 and 1996. In that position, in addition to exceptional organizational and time-management skills, Janice demonstrated leadership and in just five years, she became the general manager at Caribbean Corporate Services Limited (formerly Deloitte & Touche). Indicative of her knowledge in the corporate and trust sector of the jurisdiction and bolstering her skills, Mrs. Skelton was promoted to Managing Director of Caribbean Corporate Services Limited, now known as Newhaven Corporate Services. Janice brings strong relationship building and management skills along with a keen sense of meeting the demands of client facing account management. The skill set required to achieving business goals and objectives. Mrs. Skelton studied management at the University of the West Indies in Barbados, where she earned a Bachelor of Science and graduated with honours. She obtained a master’s degree in international management at the University of Phoenix soon thereafter, with constant training and updating her knowledge in management earning several esteemed certifications. She first completed a certificate in international trust management from the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners followed by an international advanced certificate in compliance and financial crime with merit from the International Compliance Association. Janice is well-versed and deeply experienced in international trust management. This coupled with her top tier professionalism and her unique personal touch she is well positioned to successfully achieving the mission at hand. With her infectious laugh she is unstoppable.

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“To keep focused, I leaned on my faith and just took things one step/ one day at a time.”

Balance and flexibility. There were varying needs to give attention to. Not only did I need to give attention to the health and safety of my team, but I also needed to ensure that operations continued in a productive way. The welfare of my family during this pandemic also required that I be balanced and flexible. To keep focused, I leaned on my faith and just took things one step/one day at a time. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

Genuinely, 2020 didn’t allow much time for secular reading, too many competing priorities. I have leaned on spiritual things to keep me grounded in these uncertain times. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

Stability and growth for the industry and the economy and wisdom for our leadership. What keeps you up at night?

From time-to-time concern for the welfare of my family may occupy my thoughts. However, my general philosophy is not to stress about things that I can’t control. I would like to think that I am fair and kind to others. This combination allows me to sleep well at nights.

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APRIL 2021


SHARON FLAX-BRUTUS

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haron is without doubt one of the sharpest and most innovative travel and tourism minds in the Caribbean. A well seasoned professional and a proud BVI national, Mrs. Sharon Flax-Brutus joined Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals and Leverick Bay Resort & Marina as Director of Operations in July of 2020.

Sharon, who served as the Director of Tourism for the British Virgin Islands for more than seven years, was a key architect and in the drivers seat at the national level when the BVI experienced record levels of growth in all sectors of tourism. Her leadership in the rebuilding of tourism post the 2017 hurricanes, was stellar and critical to the quick recovery of the sector and by extension the BVI economy. She draws on a deep reservoir of experience in various sectors of the travel and tourism industry, as she assumed her new position; including some 12 years in senior management positions at the gold standard, Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort in Virgin Gorda, as a travel advisor in Las Vegas, Station Manager for American Eagle in the BVI and overseeing the operations of her family owned tourism business for several years. As Chief Executive Officer of the BVI Tourist Board, Sharon was responsible for policy formulation and implementation of the same, for the entire BVI Tourism sector while playing a seminal role in reestablishing the BVI brand as a much sought after and discerning travel destination. She committed herself to ensuring that travellers globally, or guests as she affectionately refers to our visitors, were well informed about her home and its unique product. A networker extraordinaire and very personable, Sharon develops relationships with colleagues the world over. She is a curious mind and is not shy to ask for opinions or guidance in areas or activities that intrigue her, especially if she could see how it would enhance the BVI brand, while at the same time enriching the lives of BVI Islanders. Her focus has been and is always on offering the most personalized and exclusive experience to every guest. She is determined to ensure everyone feels welcome, recognizing that is one way to differentiate her beloved BVI from other vacation destinations. To quote her “luxury is not necessarily a price point but the way an experience makes you feel”. Whether it’s a five-star villa or resort, a charter yacht or a comfortable hotel room or condo, the goal is for that experience to be luxurious. Sharon is really in her element in this new role, as operations has always been her true passion. It allows her to do what she loves, be creative while catering to guests’ needs and watching them appreciate the work of her teammates. So it is no surprise that as Director of Operations, Sharon will enhance the operations of the properties that make up Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals and Leverick Bay Resort and Marina to take them to the next level. Always providing a more luxury guest experience and paying very close attention to detail and personalization, from reservation to rebooking and post visit follow up. She can be counted on to close the circle. In welcoming Sharon to the team, property owner, Christina Yates expressed her excitement, stating “We feel so honoured that Sharon has agreed to be a part of our team. Her experience, industry and product knowledge, respect of her peers and passion for the BVI is a huge asset to us and as we launch plans to expand our properties, she is the best person to take our companies to the next level.” When Sharon is not at work, her passion for the betterment of Virgin Gorda keeps her involved in many community-based projects including Virgin Gorda Recovery Operations Centre (VGROC), formed immediately after the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, to assist the community in disaster relief and mitigation. This is the kind of situational leadership Sharon is known for, as she actively works with the Virgin Gorda and Anegada Business communities in an exercise called Virgin Gorda Round Table, which seeks to find innovative ways during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep their businesses sustainable. She also finds time to co-chair a neighbourhood watch group.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Curiosity sits very high on my list. To be curious is to always be thinking and always planning to be three steps ahead. It keeps the brain active, innovative and creative. The old adage “curiosity killed the cat” no longer holds true..it’s about being curious enough to lead change. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“To be curious is to always be thinking and always planning to be three steps ahead.”

Collaboration and being open to other ideas. Because of fast moving scenarios and changing rules, protocols and laws, it was important to always actively communicate and listen. Proactive planning tends to get a bad rap, but planning helped in terms of having a game plan and a playbook to begin with knowing that 2020 became a year of adaptation and learning how to flip and pivot. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

Actually I enjoyed 2 — Leading Change by John P. Kotter and Ass-holes — A theory by Aaron James Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

Collaborative governing of the country; meaning where government actively and meaningfully engages the private sector as well as the community. Governing should be about meaningful participation. What keeps you up at night?

Thinking about the future of the BVI and worried about the world my grandchildren will inherit.

Sharon is always keen to teach and share. As a proud Caribbean national, she is constantly discussing and sharing ideas with fellow tourism colleagues in the region and was recently appointed as a Director on the Board for Allied Members at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). She is also a member of the International Society of Professional Women and often speaks on Women’s issues. An expert Tourism Experience Curator, Sharon is also the owner of Oleander Destinations, a full-service destination management company that provides bespoke tours and highend guest and client support services to visitors to the British Virgin Islands.

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APRIL 2021


TIFFANY R. SCATLIFFE ESPRIT

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rs. Tiffany R. Scatliffe Esprit, LL.M. was appointed as the first local Director of Public Prosecutions of the British Virgin Islands by His Excellency the Governor, Mr Augustus J.U. Jaspert in accordance with section 95 of the Virgin Islands Constitution, and acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission. Her appointment took effect on May 5, 2020. Mrs Esprit has served in every legal post within the Office of the DPP since its formation in June 2007, prior, she was a Crown Counsel with the Attorney General’s Chambers from 2006. Mrs Esprit also worked with the Financial Services Commission from 2000 – 2006 as a regulator (2000-2001) in the investment business division, as a summer intern and then as legal counsel in 2006. As the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mrs Esprit serves as the principal prosecutor in the Virgin Islands as established by the Constitution, and has the overall responsibility for all aspects of criminal proceedings and management of the day-to-day administration and activities of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. In this capacity, Mrs Esprit will institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any civil court, in respect of any offence against any law in force in the Territory. Additionally, she also provides written legal advice to Commissions, Government ministries and departments, as well as attend meetings to provide immediate oral advice on legal matters, as required to provide timely professional information. The Director of Public Prosecutions also liaises with the Governor, Commissioner of Police and other institutions on criminal matters, and manage all prosecutions in the Summary Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Privy Council. Mrs Esprit received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cincinnati where she majored in Political Science and Public administration. She received her Bachelor of Laws from the University of Cardiff in 2004 and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2005 and the Bar in the Virgin Islands in 2006. She was inducted into the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 2015 and received her Masters of Laws specialising in banking, Finance and Money Laundering from the University of Liverpool 2017. She received a Diploma in Human Resources Management, Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management and Diploma in Workforce Management and Development from Michigan State University in April 2019.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

The qualities that comprise my management style are a continuum, not a list per se. Curiosity, is an integral part in guiding effective prosecution, as it is imperative to always question and view the entire scenario from multiple angles to avoid anchoring to an incorrect conclusion. Informed decisions founded in law require pervasive investigation. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“Curiosity is an integral part in guiding effective prosecution, as it is imperative to always question and view the entire scenario from multiple angles to avoid anchoring to an incorrect conclusion.”

2020 was a year that no-one could anticipate. Being resourceful and having initiative aided me in making the most of this year. It caused me to focus on using available tools and resources to achieve attainable objectives; as well as accomplishing necessary tasks to ensure the Chambers’ functioned as it should. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

That the Territory’s economy regains its stability and for there to be greater cooperation and understanding between the law enforcement agencies and the general public, which would lead to a reduction of criminal activity and an increase in effective justice; and the public realization that an effective criminal justice system is essential to the maintenance of a strong economy. What keeps you up at night?

My constant concern is that my leadership reflects my desire for a cohesive Prosecution Office that focuses on true justice and operates within the constructs of the law. I understand the many challenges that the Office of the DPP faces within the BVI. Our relationships with law enforcement agencies and the community are extremely important in creating a safe and functional BVI.

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS

JENNIFER POTTER

Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Curiosity is, in my opinion, the most important skill for personal development. It rejects the status quo, drives ‘what ifs’, and fuels dreams of what can be. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had my curiosity fanned by awesome education opportunities, generous mentors and friends but originally by parents and teachers who basked in my potential. As a leader, I always try new approaches, new skills, change processes, add technology, and experiment. While ‘thinking out the box’ is a cliché, it has served me well over the years. Business is dynamic; it has to be. If being intellectually curious is not high on your list, I think you squander opportunities for delivering great results.

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ennifer Potter has over two decades of executive leadership experience, which includes managing the operations of corporate organisations with annual turnovers in excess of fifteen million dollars. Jennifer’s professional business qualifications, coupled with her post graduate legal certifications have provided a strong foundation for her career development. Throughout her career Jennifer has shouldered increasing responsibilities in areas such as financial management, business development and digital transformation. Entrepreneurship and business development were a part of Jennifer’s life from a young age. Her first operations experience, came through her teenage involvement in the private, hospitality enterprises operated by her parents in Virgin Gorda. Early on, Jennifer realized and appreciated the benefits which education, curiosity, preparation and hard work could yield. As a young professional, encouraged by a circle of parents, educators and mentors she set out to engineer a career built on eagerly envisioning the future of business. She recalls upon joining the financial services sector over 19 years ago, that she had little knowledge of financial services and the industry at the time. However, through her diligent pursuit for knowledge and her commitment to excellence she has advanced to one of the most senior roles in the BVI Financial Services Commission and has ably represented the Commission and Jurisdiction globally. As Deputy Managing Director of the BVI Financial Services Commission, Jennifer advises the agency on strategy to manage business operations, improve efficiency and meet stakeholder expectations. As DMD she also manages the general operations, strategic planning, acquisition decisions for assets and services, business continuity planning and the effectiveness of its multi-million dollar technology portfolio. A key project which Jennifer was charged with at the beginning of her tenure at the Commission, was the development and implementation of what is now VIRRGIN, the Commission’s regulatory and registration system. As executive sponsor, Jennifer maintains responsibility for its expansion and continued development. Jennifer regularly assists technical function Directors to execute plans and objectives to achieve supervisory and other aims. She also advises on improving business intelligence and decision making, directs communications and provides program management leadership to internal initiatives. Her community engagement is currently centred around being a founding member of the BVI’s ZONTA Chapter. Jennifer is genuinely concerned about and focused on community service that impacts and improves the lives of women and children. She also enjoys providing guidance and mentorship to younger female professionals. Jennifer relishes the challenge of parenting two independently minded teenage boys, is a lover of tennis and books, and a culinary aficionado.

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Flexibility. As the pandemic unfolded, I moved swiftly to improve the things and circumstances I could. The homeschool environment for my boys, safe processes for my parents, availability of tools for my work teams and support for those that needed assistance.

“If being intellectually curious is not high on your list, I think you squander opportunities for delivering great results.”

With every new challenge I found the help I needed and making decisions to resolve it. Being flexible helped me tackle the most urgent and then move to the next thing on the list. I am not riled by changing priorities. That’s the nature of a fluid environment; there’s no need to slow down for things that are out of your control. It also meant being flexible about self-care and motivation. It was a challenging but rewarding year. It’s led me to discover new skills, forge new relationships and entirely new ideas about leadership. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

Reading has always been a constant for me. I read for pleasure everyday. It’s tough choosing a favourite; ‘Upstream’ (Dan Heath) and ‘A World without Work’ (Daniel Susskind) were the most memorable for me in 2020. Both were very insightful and valuable professionally. I have long been fascinated by the intersection of technology and decision-making and these two authors fuelled that craving. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

It would please me to see BVI believe and thrive in its ability to use its size as an advantage. To be nimble and show agility in charting a sustainable course and making sensible decisions towards excellence in the standard of living that should be available to all residents. What keeps you up at night?

I am preoccupied with how we as a Territory can continue to leverage intellectual capital for our continued success and truly disarm ourselves of the notion that our size as a smaller territory should limit the potential for our development. I have this idealistic view that the BVI will, within the next few decades realise its full potential. Everyone needs to be rowing their hardest to take advantage of the tide. Slacking hurts Territorial performance, and any benefits from chaos are not sustainable.

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LISA E. PENN-LETTSOME

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Mrs. Penn-Lettsome’s education and experience span in excess of three decades. Shortly after receiving her Bachelor of Law from the University of the West Indies in 1991 and her Legal Education Certificate from Norman Manley Law School in 1993, she was admitted to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the British Virgin Islands. From June 1993 to January 1995, she served as the acting Registrar of the High Court, the acting Registrar General, and the Deputy Registrar of the High Court. She also tutored business law at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College between 1993 and 1996. Commencing in 1995, Lisa assumed the post of Registrar of Companies for two years. At the beginning of 1998, she took up the position of Deputy Managing Director of the Financial Services Commission, where she served for almost six years. She later transitioned to other senior positions in government, including serving as the Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s Office from 2003 to 2004, and then as the acting Deputy Governor for ten months with responsibility for the public service of just under 2,000 people at the time. Continuing with her education, Lisa received her Master of Laws from the University of New South Wales in Australia in 2005 and prior to that, she also earned an International Diploma in Compliance from the Manchester Business School in 2003, a National Association of Insurance Commissioners Certificate in 2000, and a Certificate in Legislative Drafting from the Royal Institute of Public Administration in 1997. Upon completion of her Masters, Mrs. PennLettsome joined the international law firm Walkers, where she spent some 13 years, ending her career stint there as Head of Regulation and Senior Counsel. Lisa is also a past President of the BVI Bar Association. Married with two athletes, Lisa spends much of her personal time travelling and supporting her family.

Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

I would say that curiosity sits high up on my list of management traits. In discussions, whether at home or abroad, I am the one in the room to take a different angle at questioning things, drawing flow charts on scraps of paper and drilling down to the basics. I find that too often people do a lot of talking, but not enough analysis, listening and questioning, so that discussions come off track without participants even noticing it. However, many times I found that when I asked the “but why” persistently, it turns out that decisions were about to be made on the basis of faulty assumptions or insufficient information. It also goes the other way. Max Ehrmann cautioned us to listen to others for they, too, have their stories. So, I also am genuinely curious to learn why others decided to act how they did and they should be able to be very clear in articulating this. It can sometimes influence decision makers to view things a bit differently.

isa E. Penn-Lettsome was appointed as the Executive Director of International Business for the government of the Virgin Islands, effective October 1, 2019. She brings to the post an extensive and impressive legal and financial services background. Not only does she serve as the government’s chief policy adviser on all matters related to financial services, Lisa is also the chief negotiator with the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on all matters related to economic substance. She is also a member of the Board of BVI Finance. Lisa was responsible for negotiating BVI’s positive rating with the EU in economic substance, preventing the territory from being blacklisted at a time when so many other jurisdictions were. Mrs. Penn-Lettsome is very capable of advancing several initiatives simultaneously, which she recently demonstrated, having obtained unique tax identification numbers from the Inland Revenue Department for legal entities.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“And this too shall pass away.” Need I say more?

“My greatest wish for BVI in 2021 is that we can recoup much of the national pride that we had years ago, so that it is no longer something that our forefathers talked about, but that it becomes something our children begin to speak about.”

What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

I found the pandemic too disruptive to relax to read for pleasure but, just prior to that, the book that I enjoyed reading most was “Mother Teresa - No greater love”. As a child, I was always fixated with images on the TV of this diminutive but magnetic old lady, described by a UN secretary as the most powerful woman in the world. She was always surrounded by a heavy security detail, on her way to address some important political leader or international gathering. However, it was not so much her religious representations that I was in awe of but, rather, this quiet and fearless leader who was the epitome of resoluteness, eloquence, honesty, compassion, humility and grace. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

My greatest wish for BVI in 2021 is that we can recoup much of the national pride that we had years ago, so that it is no longer something that our forefathers talked about, but that it becomes something our children begin to speak about. This would be a powerful guide and stay in charting the course of the jurisdiction in years to come. Pride affects everything from how clean we keep our territory, to how bullish we feel able to be in defending, protecting and representing the jurisdiction abroad. What keeps you up at night?

Naturally, as a mother, everything and anything about my children is what keeps me up at night. Secondly (and sadly), work! In my work, the immediate and best decisions that have to be taken are not always those that have an immediate and positive outcome. I therefore find myself ruminating about things like that at night, over and over, turning it inside and out, wondering if another strategy can work and, sometimes, believe it or not, it is in that quiet space that some pearl of wisdom manifests itself.

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SANDRA I. WARD

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andra I. Ward is the Cabinet Secretary in the Cabinet Office, Government of the Virgin Islands, a position she assumed in 2012. As the Cabinet Secretary, she serves as the Administrative Head of the Office, providing leadership for the same, which has joint responsibility to the Chairman, the Governor and the Premier, the Leader of Government Business. Key responsibilities of the office include the monitoring of the implementation of Cabinet decisions across government and providing quarterly updates to the Cabinet on the same. Ms. Ward leads a team of 10 with varied responsibilities that entail providing policy, administrative and technical support to the Cabinet, the National Security Council, the Virgin Islands Cadet Corps Council and publishing of the Official Gazette of the Virgin Islands. She also conducts final reviews of all policy papers before submission to the Cabinet, to ensure adherence with prescribed standards, and promotes and facilitates adherence to the rules of procedure of the Cabinet at respective meetings. Ms. Ward is a consummate public service professional with over 20 years of critical experience in policy, management, administration and communication. As Cabinet Secretary, she has undoubtedly added and deepened this experience in a number of areas, such as the implementation of a web based document management tool, ExcoTrack, designed to streamline Cabinet and NSC processes. This resource also allows the Executive Branch of Government to prepare and share policy documents in a centralised manner. She has also overseen the transition to a digital format for Cabinet meetings, while at the same time implementing a paperless initiative since 2018. In 2020 she was appointed to a Special Select Committee to assist the House of Assembly with the implementation of its paperless initiative. Immediately prior to taking up the position as Cabinet Secretary, Ms. Ward served as the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office for just under a year where she managed the day-to-day administration of the Ministry, coordinated and liaised with other ministries on policy matters for submission to Cabinet, served as the focal point for regional and international organisations, and represented the territory at regional meetings and high profile meetings with the London based Commonwealth Secretariat. Between 2009 and 2011, Sandra served as the Deputy Secretary in the Premier’s Office and between 2004 and 2009 she served as Director of Communications with responsibility for managing the government’s overall communications strategy. Prior to this, Sandra served as the Chief Information Officer, Department of Information and Public Relations. Ms. Ward earned her Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts (Communication) at Trenton State College in New Jersey, USA in 1988, and her Master’s of Public Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. in 2002. She went on to earn her Master of Public Administration in 2003, and an Executive Diploma in Strategic Management from the Chartered Management Institute in the United Kingdom six years later. She also worked in Washington, DC where she was a communication intern in the Office of the Mayor in 2003. There, she assisted in the planning of the mayor’s State of the District Address, and drafted messages for observances and magazines for Mayor Anthony Williams. Along with her extensive education, training and experience, in 2016, Ms. Ward was recognized by the BVI Government when she received the Public Service Excellence in Leadership Award. She was also inducted into the Pi Alpha Alpha National Honours Society for Public Administration and Affairs in 2003, American University Chapter.

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Curiosity sits at the top two, if not number one, on my list of leadership traits. Curiosity propels me to continue to seek innovative ways to keep pace with the vision of the Cabinet Office, which is to be a model of performance excellence and accountability.

“Curiosity propels me to continue to seek innovative ways to keep pace with the vision of the Cabinet Office.“

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Technology - the foresight to have implemented a web-based tool, developed by Rovika Inc. of Montserrat, to streamline the Cabinet process, along with the Department of Information Technology’s introduction of Cisco Webex Meetings allowed for the holding of virtual/digital meetings during the lockdown and thereafter. The convenience of audio, video and content sharing made for the seamless functioning for the Cabinet meetings to be held at any time so that intended policies could take effect. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

Driven by Eternity by John Revere Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021

My number one wish for the Territory of the Virgin Islands in 2021 is to be COVID-19 free and economically stable. What keeps you up at night?

Generally, I do not allow anything to keep me up at night but on many occasions, I have to complete office work at home to meet time-sensitive deadlines.


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VANESSA KING

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isten, learn, be focused, and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” is the advice O’Neal Webster attorney Vanessa King offers to new attorneys seeking guidance on how to excel in the industry. It’s also advice she follows herself as the firm’s managing partner and practicing lawyer. Daily, Vanessa earns her stripes listening, learning, and staying focused on both the big picture and the details in all her endeavours. In addition to practicing law and running the firm—which celebrated its milestone 30-year anniversary in 2019—she is a leader in the community, an avid sportswoman, and a very hands-on mother to her son. Vanessa’s corporate, commercial, and private client law practice covers the major financial centres of the world, where her clients include international and domestic financial institutions, law firms, trust companies, and high net worth individuals. She is frequently instructed on various forms of corporate finance, such as bilateral and syndicated loans, project finance, property finance, and restructuring, and acts as a trusted advisor to high net worth individuals investing in the territory. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of the West Indies, with honours, and earned her Certificate of Legal Education from Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica. She is admitted to practice in the BVI and Jamaica. Vanessa has a long-standing record of exceptional leadership and service in professional, charitable, and community organisations. In 2016, she was the global recipient of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners’ ninth annual Founder’s Award, which acknowledged her many contributions to the society over the years. She sits on several industry boards and committees and is the current Chair of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Caribbean and Latin America Region and Chair of the STEP BVI Branch. She is a Steering Committee Member of the STEP Caribbean Conference and deputy chair of the BVI Financial Services Commission Appeals Board. Vanessa believes strongly in her responsibility to give of her time and talent to the BVI community and offers a steady hand to organisations as diverse as GreenVI, the BVI Red Cross, and Cedar International School. She serves on the Board of Directors of Green VI Ltd., is the Deputy Chair of the Board of Trustees for Cedar International School, and served for many years as the deputy chair of the BVI Red Cross Board of Trustees. She also contributes considerable hours, annually, to probono services for various organisations and individuals. She is recognized for her professional achievements by all major legal industry ranking bodies, including Chambers Global, Legal500, IFLR100, and Citywealth Magazine. Frequently, Vanessa is invited by various industry groups and organisations, to speak at conferences or lead panel discussions and share her significant body of knowledge. As O’Neal Webster’s Managing Partner, Vanessa is responsible for leading the partnership in establishing a clear vision for the firm and delivering on the firm’s strategic direction, client satisfaction and development, and the well-being of its partners, associates, and support staff. She approaches her role as the CEO of the firm with a management style that is very forward looking, efficient, and decisive, while maintaining a highly personal and people-focused mind-set. With unanimous support from her partners, she accepted the role of managing partner in February 2018, following her near heroic efforts to guide the firm in the aftermath of the destruction caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. With the help of the firm’s loyal staff and support of its attorneys spread far and wide, she was able to get the firm back up and running within days, barely skipping a beat. In late 2018, Vanessa guided the firm’s expansion by establishing an office in New York City, headed by former managing partner Kerry Anderson.

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Curiosity plays a major role in my management style. By nature, I am a very curious person—often described as “quietly curious.’ In almost every firm management or client situation, you will find me listening and observing before asking the questions that might get us to the heart of a matter.

“Being inclusive in decision making has been a top strategy for 2020. “

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Being inclusive in decision making has been a top strategy for 2020. The year required significant flexibility by our team while adapting to radical changes and uncertainty. I found that including the different perspectives of our team members and clients was essential for planning the way forward, and that resulted in better decisions all around. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

I am a fan of African literature and spent much of the year returning to my collection which includes work by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinua Achebe. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021

BVI has been through a lot in the last three years, so my wish is for stability and clarity on the way forward. What keeps you up at night?

I sleep very well at night, but what weighs heavy on my soul is what we are leaving our children to inherit - a struggling environment and a less kind world. A world where curfews and lockdowns are part of every child’s vocabulary and where hugging and touching are no longer the normal way to greet others.


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IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

AYANA GLASGOW-LIBURD

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yana Glasgow-Liburd is the Executive Director of Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Limited (“Aleman”), a BVI regulated trust and corporate services provider. Ayana has garnered over twenty years of experience in the BVI financial services industry, with emphasis on regulatory matters and in the administration of trust and corporate vehicles. She began her career in the industry as a regulator with the BVI Financial Services Commission, having served as its Deputy Director - Banking & Fiduciary Services at the time of her departure. Prior to joining Aleman, Ayana held compliance and private wealth roles with a Jersey based legal and fiduciary services group. She has actively participated in various government led initiatives such as the McKinsey Report, the objective being to establish a strategy for a sustainable financial services sector and the BVI’s National Risk Assessment, which involved a review of the effectiveness of BVI’s anti-money laundering and combatting of terrorist financing framework. Ayana is the immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors of BVI Finance Limited, the marketing and promotional arm of the BVI financial services industry. She also serves on the Fiduciary Liaison Committee and Company Law Review Advisory Committee, both established by the BVI Financial Services Commission as a forum for private sector engagement on fiduciary and company law matters which would impact the industry. Ayana is also the immediate past Chair of the BVI Health Services Authority. Ayana holds a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Global Management conferred by the University of Phoenix, Arizona, USA and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada. She is a Fellow of the International Compliance Association (UK), a member of the Association of Anti-Money Laundering and Compliance Specialists (USA) and a full member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, permitted to use the designation TEP. In her spare time, Ayana serves as an active member of the Zonta Club of Tortola and enjoys spending time with her family, reading, baking, and traveling.

“My financial services career started in regulation and critical thinking was a must have skill in that profession - knowing when and what questions to ask at the right time.”

Curiosity sits at the core of my management traits. My financial services career started in regulation and critical thinking was a must have skill in that profession - knowing when and what questions to ask at the right time. So, as my career progressed to the leadership level, beyond regulation and compliance, I have continuously relied on my curiosity to guide my actions and reactions. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

I made a concerted effort to do two things. Firstly, I constantly looked at the glass half full and maintained focus on the positives in any given situation. Secondly, I took active measures to balance my life – making sure that I not only worked and took care of my familial responsibilities, but also took care of me. The taking care of me, was most important so I could be at my optimal best to ably manage my work commitments, and also to meet my family’s needs. We can all agree 2020 has been a force to be reckoned with, but these things were absolutely necessary for my mental health and were my true lifelines. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

I must give honourable mention to David Baldacci’s novel “Walk the Wire”. He’s my favourite author and I thoroughly enjoyed that book. But when China essentially shut down to curb the effects of the pandemic, I became fascinated with talk on China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, due to the global economic impact seemingly caused by that shut down. Reading “China’s Asian Dream: Empire Building Along the New Silk Road” by Tom Miller and comparing its content to current day events, China may be closer to achieving that dream than I certainly appreciated. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

For the people of the BVI – residents and visitors alike - to engage our spirit of togetherness. It is what was at the core of our recovery from the effects of two category 5 hurricanes and helps the country to cope with the myriad of international pressures that constantly threaten our livelihood. Our collective resilience will need to be optimal to survive the times ahead of us. What keeps you up at night?

With everything the BVI has faced, flood, hurricanes, pandemic, continuous threats to our two main pillars – financial services and tourism – I constantly ask myself “What next?” “Will we be ready?” “Or will what is next be too much for us to handle?” These are the questions that keep me up at night and I sometimes wonder whether I really want to know the answers.

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ADENIKE SICARD

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

As leaders or managers, we sometimes are overly cautious and stick to the known. However, the times are constantly changing and curiosity is a key asset to staying ahead of the game. It also opens the door to new experiences. Despite the saying, “curiosity killed the cat”, if you are wise and probing, curiosity can lead to growth and greater satisfaction in life and management. So, curiosity sits in the top three of my list of management traits.

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What strategy best helped you in getting thru

denike Sicard is the Managing Partner of Sinclairs BVI, specialising in investment funds, financial services regulations, commercial and banking law, corporate governance, restorations, trusts, probates and real estate. She is solution oriented, thorough, and very proficient in her areas of practice.

From a personal perspective, meditating, exercising and praying every morning helped to get me through 2020. Those allowed me to start my day off right and keep me centred and focused on doing the best that I can in each situation, while trying to balance work, family and health.

Adenike has been practising law for over 20 years in the British Virgin Islands. She is also a notary public, a trade mark agent, and has been licensed by the BVI Financial Services Commission since 2010 as an authorised representative for regulated entities. Her practice involved her advising on corporate restructuring, financing, establishing and advising on various types of trusts, and assisting clients with their Wills (including estates with virtual assets) and succession planning.

From a work perspective, the strategy that helped my office to survive 2020 seamlessly, is that we were already implementing flexibility standards, we were connectible and ready for disaster. This was tested by Hurricane Irma in 2017. We were already a paperless office prior to Hurricane Irma and we ensured that we continued to maintain the readiness and flexibility of our office should any disaster strike. So, we were able to function through the COVID evoked curfews without any delays or problems.

Adenike has been admitted to practice in three different jurisdictions: the BVI, Jamaica and Anguilla, undoubtedly, a key catalyst for her impressive background and experience, showcased through her numerous educational and professional accomplishments. Early in university, she studied the sciences at the University of the West Indies before transferring to the University’s Faculty of Law and graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in 1998 with Upper Class Honours. Using that springboard, she earned her Legal Education Certificate from the Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica in 2000. In 2005, she earned her post-graduate diploma at the University of London in US, UK and European Law of Copyright. In April of 2013, Adenike again pushed the envelope and broadened her skills set, when she was awarded an Advanced Certificate in International Arbitration by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. That year, she also earned a Graduate International Compliance Diploma with Merit from the International Compliance Association at the University of Manchester Business School in England. Adenike’s professional career began in 2000 at Harneys where she practised for seven years. There, she gained experience in a range of corporate, commercial and banking matters, with her focus on establishing investment funds in the BVI. Between 2007 and 2009, Adenike became a Senior Associate at Simonette Lewis, where her practice areas continued to include all aspects of banking and finance, corporate and commercial law. In 2009, Adenike joined HPA Lawyers as a Partner, moving her career to a new level. As her practice grew, Adenike’s horizons expanded into listings on the Singapore Stock Exchange and providing expert legal opinions on BVI law to foreign courts. Adenike has lectured company law at the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies in the BVI. She is a public speaker, moderated a panel at the 2019 Conference on the recently enacted Economic Substance legislation, an event speaker at BVI FSC and CFATF - Joint Compliance Conference in 2013, and a panelist and speaker on the BVI Asia Road Show in October 2016 in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. Adenike was recently awarded a certificate in Cryptocurrencies, Verification, Risk, Reporting and Compliance from the Block-chain Intelligence Group.

2020?

“If you are wise and ask the right questions, curiosity can lead to growth, fulfillment and greater satisfaction in life and management.”

What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

I started many books in 2020, including Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”, which I enjoyed. However, the one that I most enjoyed was Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime”. It is a bit ironic to use the word “enjoyed”, because although he used wit and humour throughout the book, it was set against the backdrop of South Africa, during the time of Apartheid. So, we were able to see the ill effects that Apartheid had on many people. He was able to tell his stories without vilifying the perpetrators of that system. He made you burst out in laughter many times throughout his book and ended it with hope, a miracle and laughter. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

That we handle COVID in the best way possible, securing lives and the economy, because they go hand in hand. There is no decision in this climate that is easy. Every decision that a country makes, must be seriously considered and weighed several times over. As citizens of a small territory, we do not have the luxury of making mistakes. We have one hospital and our economy depends heavily on tourism. So, my 2 in 1 wish is that each citizen carefully plays their role in the prevention of the spread of this virus, while we explore the possibilities of our unique geographical make up in our COVID-tourism response. What keeps you up at night?

Most nights I am so tired, I am out like a log. If I were to consider the issues that would frequently come to my mind, those would be my concern for the world returning to normalcy, with respect to us being social beings of one human race. We are not designed to be alone, and social distancing can take a toll on us. I am a hugger, so for me, to see a friend and not be able to hug them is hard. I worry about students not getting the full face-to-face learning experience. My campus life at university were some of my best days and I made life-long friends. I also worry about the economy and people losing jobs especially in the service sector.

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LORNA SMITH

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

It’s definitely among my top five! Personal curiosity, as well as curiosity among colleagues, is a must in order for my business LGS & Associates to grow and stay ahead of the curve. This can take the form of regularly checking on the competition as well as daily reading of the ‘trades’. Networking is also key as the most innocent conversation can open vistas.

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orna Smith, OBE, is the Founder and President of LGS & Associates, which provides strategic advice to governments and global organizations on business and financial services initiatives. With over 30 years serving at the highest levels of public service in the British Virgin Islands, Lorna is one of the key engineers behind the BVI’s rise from relative obscurity to its present position as a top-flight tourist destination and premier centre for global finance. A thought leader with a deep network in the public, private and non-profit worlds, Lorna provides her clients with critical insight into the challenges and opportunities facing organizations that seek to operate in the BVI and across the Caribbean. In 1987, Lorna became the youngest person ever to serve as Ministerial Permanent Secretary in the BVI government, helping establish marine and terrestrial parks systems for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and guiding its policies on public land management. She spent the next decade serving as permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office. From 2002 to 2008, Lorna took the helm of the BVI International Finance Centre, helping place BVI on the map as a global financial centre and coordinating BVI’s participation in regional and international organizations, including the European Union, CARICOM, OECS, CDCC, and the Inter-Virgin Islands Council. She moved to London to establish the BVI London Office and served as BVI’s official representative and chief spokesperson in the UK and the European Union. She also initiated global ‘road shows’ to promote BVI’s financial services sector, traveling to New York, London, Miami, Zurich, Geneva, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore on BVI’s behalf. After twenty of years of public service, Lorna founded her own consulting firm and was quickly retained by the World Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat to support several Eastern Caribbean States in meeting their obligations to the OECD. She also served as lead consultant to Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla in negotiating tax information exchange agreements with OECD member states. In 2013, the BVI government once again asked Lorna to head overseas, this time establishing BVI House Asia and representing BVI interests in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, and provinces in China. Key to her success in these ventures was Lorna’s experience leading BVI International Finance Centre. It was therefore no surprise when she returned in 2016 to serve as its interim Executive Director, guiding its conversion from a public department to a public-private partnership. Lorna was asked to steer this historic transformation after the release of the Panama Papers which would place the BVI’s financial services in severe jeopardy. Her interim post lasted three years. Lorna has also been pivotal to restoring the financial services industry in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma & Maria. She played a vital role within the government as a member of its interim Recovery Board and through the Rotary Club of Tortola, where she raised significant sums to aid the recovery and help those in critical need. Lorna currently serves as a Director of a trust company in the BVI as well as the Vice Chairman of the Bank of Asia. LGS & Associates provides bespoke consultancy services to a range of businesses including those operating in the financial services space in the BVI as well as internationally. A dynamic and engaging speaker, Lorna regularly keynotes conferences and leads workshops in various Caribbean jurisdictions, discussing digital offshore banking, trust and estate practices, best business practices, and global financial services. Lorna was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her contribution to Public Service in the British Virgin Islands and is a four-time Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International, most recently serving as Assistant Governor for all Rotary Clubs in the BVI. In 2019, she received the Lifetime Defender Award from BVI Finance.

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“(I wish for 2021) that we would adhere to the maxim ‘out of many, one people’, making the best decisions through using the best and most relevant minds regardless of colour creed or politics. The ultimate objective is to make the BVI the best jurisdiction it can be.”

Maintaining a positive attitude as well as a routine even during the lock down periods. Up at five thirty for exercise followed by getting dressed instead of lounging around, for example. I also got used to using Zoom for all meetings and improved my use of technology in this transformative period. Slower times meant more time to write and publish more, which meant research. I also took the opportunity to upgrade my LinkedIn profile and to revamp my CV. I even attended many more Rotary meetings via Zoom. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

‘A Promised Land’ by Barack Obama. I received this as an early Christmas present with a note that read ‘ I am forever grateful to you for offering of your time and knowledge...’ I told her I did not deserve such generosity but was most grateful. I did not think that Barack could outdo Michelle in ‘Becoming’, but he has. He is eloquent yet poignant, serious yet funny, instructive without being scholarly and most importantly, it’s an honest account by a born storyteller about the making of the first black US President - also one of the most effective in that country’s history. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

That we would adhere to the maxim ‘out of many, one people’, making the best decisions through using the best and most relevant minds regardless of colour creed or politics. The ultimate objective is to make the BVI the best jurisdiction it can be. What keeps you up at night?

Aside from the deafening roar of motorbikes drag racing until the early hours, I am concerned about what seems to be a breakdown of law and order in our Territory. People have gotten into the habit of doing what they want, wherever they want in the Territory without sanctions, including putting up garages, lean to’s and the like, thus contributing to the further deterioration of the tidiness, aesthetics of Tortola especially. Most importantly the obvious lack of interest in a future for many young men in this Territory is something that is of deep concern to me.

Lorna holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and is a member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (TEP) and the Institute of the Chartered Governance Institute (FCG).

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TANYA CASSIE-PARKER

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anya Cassie-Parker joined Harneys BVI in 1999, fresh out of law school in Jamaica. After just four years with Harneys, she was selected to move to Hong Kong to assist with opening firm’s office there. The Hong Kong office has since grown to become the firm’s second larges. In 2010, Tanya was promoted to partner. In 2019, she was appointed to the role of managing partner of the BVI office, and is the second female managing partner in the 60-year history of the BVI office and the third female managing partner in the firm’s history. She is responsible for managing the day-to-day running of the BVI office, which has a headcount of over 170 employees. Prior to moving to the BVI, Tanya was the youngest graduate in her class and also the top student over the two-year Certificate of Legal Education programme, receiving numerous accolades including: Most Outstanding Student Over Two Years, Most Outstanding Year I Student, and the Sir Colin MacGregor Memorial Prize. The latter is awarded to the most outstanding student over two years in the areas of academic achievement, interest in Legal Aid, the Norman Manley Law School, and discipline and attitude to society. Tanya was admitted to the Bar of the British Virgin Islands (practising) in 1999, admitted to the Bar of Jamaica (non-practising) in 2001, and registered as a Foreign Lawyer in Hong Kong in 2005. She has since been ranked by IFLR 1000 as a Leading Lawyer in the British Virgin Islands, by Legal 500 as a top-tier recommended lawyer in the British Virgin Islands, and recognised for “level of service, commerciality and responsiveness, which far exceed the levels experienced by other jurisdictions”. In 2016, Who’s Who Legal recognised her as being amongst the world’s leading aviation finance lawyers. She is also a Member of Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, Holder of Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators Diploma in Offshore Finance and Administration, and holds an International Compliance Association Diploma in Compliance (Graduate). Tanya is a member of the Harneys Banking & Finance team and regularly advises a diverse client base including leading financial institutions, property and fashion conglomerates on various forms of corporate finance including bilateral and syndicated loans, note and bond issues, development finance, project finance, aircraft and ship finance, property financing, lease finance and general aspects of banking and finance law. She also serves as member of the firm’s Executive Committee (the body that has oversight of the firm’s global business), the Chairperson of the Internal Audit Committee, and as a member of the firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. She has been both a participant, a trainer and a mentor in the firm’s Professional Development Programme– a programme for training junior lawyers and the only one of its kind in the BVI. Outside of work, Tanya is president of the Association of Jamaican Residents (BVI), a non-profit, community service and charitable organisation. She also serves as a notary public in the British Virgin Islands.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Pretty high up – it’s one of the keys to success. Though curiosity has traditionally been perceived as a negative and as something that can put us in danger, from a management perspective it is actually a trait that promotes open-mindedness and a willingness to ask questions and to listen to other’s perspectives. It also helps to quell fears of the unknown and encourages an approach that is more solution oriented and geared towards developing new ideas. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“Rather than dwelling on problems way into the night, it is far more productive to shut off both mentally and physically each night, get a good night’s sleep and tackle the challenges in the morning.”

With all the curveballs that 2020 threw our way, I found that in the midst of the chaos it helped to go back to basics. For example, from a business perspective, when you expect a drop in income you tighten up on expenditure. From a personal perspective, you steel yourself to ‘take the blows as they come’ as we say here in the BVI, while holding on to the mantra that ‘this too shall pass’. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a book I was introduced to in 2nd form at high school. The themes that it addresses are as relevant today as they were in 1960 when the book was written: social inequality, racism, justice, human morality, fear and courage. It’s a novel that teaches us perspective that you never really understand a person until you consider things from his or her point of view; until you climb around in his or her skin and walk around in it. It also explains what real courage is - when you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. And profoundly, it reminds us that the one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

A return to normal before 2022! What keeps you up at night?

Nothing. This is not to say that I don’t face challenges or that I don’t spend a lot of time anticipating all that could go wrong or is going wrong and preparing to address potential issues. Quite the contrary. However, rather than dwelling on problems way into the night, it is far more productive to shut off both mentally and physically each night, get a good night’s sleep and tackle the challenges in the morning. Otherwise, we run the risk of building up unhealthy levels of stress.

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HARMONIE BREWLEY-MASSIAH

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armonie Brewley-Messiah is the National Epidemiologist for the Virgin Islands. She is driven by a philosophy that when you’re surrounded by excellence, it is very hard not to pursue the same. Epidemiologists are like the disease busters or detectives of the world. When disease outbreaks or threats arise, they are the first to spring into action. They analyse diseases within populations to determine how they were introduced, who is most at risk and best methods for mitigation, control and prevention.

Ms. Brewley-Massiah’s educational background includes a Bachelors in Psychology and Biology(Honours), a Masters in Public Health (Distinction) from the University of the West Indies and a double masters in Epidemiology and Biostatistics(Distinction) from the University of Leeds in the UK. She is currently in the process of completing a Doctorate in Public Health. She is clearly armed and ready to take on COVID-19. Some of her proudest accomplishments outside of academia, was first, being a science teacher and CSEC coordinator at the Elmore Stoutt High School for 7 years and says that nothing taught her life skills like teaching! Plus, she loved the children and their energy. She made learning fun, so much so, that the students started beating her to class! To this day she has maintained a great relationship with all of her past students. She was the recipient of several prestigious awards, including 2017’s Commonwealth Scholarship (the first BVIslander to be offered a Commonwealth Scholarship) and CARPHA’s 2019, 64TH regional research award, where she was the first BVIslander to win this acclaimed award for her research entitled, “Reframing Type 1 Diabetes”, which explored the illness experience of Barbadian Adolescents through a novel methodology called PhotoVoice. Harmonie was also honoured with the Rotary Club Paul Harris award on December 4th, 2020, the highest award in Rotary, which is given to a community member who has made an outstanding contribution to their community. Harmonie says her greatest fear is being stagnant and looking back on her life with regrets. More and more, she wants to make a positive imprint on this world. One of her dreams is to be the Dr. Fauci of the region. She wants to become a worldrenowned researcher and epidemiologist, making seminal contributions in research not just locally, but globally. She has her eye on being directly instrumental in developing effective treatments, programs and policies that will enable all people, especially the people of the Virgin Islands to live long, healthy, productive active lives. To help facilitate the latter, she is determined to open a multi-level Health Centre, with equitable access to everyone, which offers 360o (holistic) health-care and a myriad of health and fitness activities.

Definitely in the top 5. I consider inquisitiveness a strength and a positive strategic asset. It makes me more opened minded to change, ideas and experiences- so facing the unknown does not frighten me. My curiosity is what drives me to invest more time into me; into learning new things.

I believe that happy, positive teams are more loyal. I could not have made it without them. So, I worked hard on caring for, inspiring, supporting and encouraging my team. I did a lot of introspection (what type of leader do I want to be?) and crafted a shared vision with attainable benchmarks and realistic deadlines; the accomplishments of which were rewarded with positive reinforcement. This coupled with copious amounts of prayer, active listening and surrounding myself with empowering, positive, loving persons is what kept me sane. Oh… and the gym! Endorphins anyone?

Outside of the office for Harmonie, fitness is life! That essentially translates to her being a health and wellness ‘junkie’. She has made it her mission to be certified and trained in a wide range of health oriented modalities, not just because she loves everything health, but because she recognises that no single modular approach can be applied to improving ones health.

Harmonie’s passion is working with people - from the layman, to the athlete, children, adults and families, helping them be a fitter, healthier versions of themselves; not just physically, but psychologically and emotionally. Watching them positively transform is one of the biggest, most rewarding things in her life. So when she is not tracing and quarantining,- you can find her in the gym, training or coaching.

Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Harmonie oversees an extensive disease and surveillance unit, which work tirelessly to promote health and protect the lives of the population of the British Virgin Islands. The unit utilises various statistical analyses to detect, monitor, project, and prevent established infectious diseases (e.g. respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases) as well as emerging ones, like Ebola, Zika and yes COVID-19, from negatively impacting on the quality of life in the BVI. Additionally, her responsibilities extend to monitoring non-communicable diseases, contact tracing and quarantine.

Harmonie is currently an Exercise Corrective Rehabilitative Specialist, an ISSA certified personal trainer, a swim and level 1 rugby coach, certified in massage and myofascial release (MFR) therapy and she’s finishing several teacher certifications, one of which being pilates.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

One of her dreams is to be the Dr. Fauci of the Region.

Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

That we (the people), seriously start to address the social determinants of health. Social factors such as income level, education, the environment and other stressors can lead to health disparities, which can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and their health outcome. It’s time we understood that health improvement is a shared responsibility- not solely that of the government or the health sector. The BVI can only address complex-health related issues and achieve the highest level of health through a multifaceted approach, which must engage various stakeholders in the community- both public and private. Outside of that… wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands properly. What keeps you up at night?

Three things. First- the scooters. It’s time we enforced the Noise Control and Abatement Act. Second, not reaching self-actualization and taking my gifts with me to the grave. Finally, not enjoying life to the fullest. I fear missing all the wonder and adventure God has in store for me. I work late every day and sometimes when I’m sitting outside in my vehicle decompressing, my mind would alight upon the thoughts, “Is this what the rest of my life will be like? Will work eventually consume me and I become a husk of my former self (replete with skeletal imagery)?” *laughs* But then I shake it off and set my mind to the thought of better days.

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

LAURA FOX

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aura Fox was born and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. The firstborn daughter of an educator and a nurse, her passion for education and medicine was equally mixed. Laura graduated with her Bachelor of Science, from Mount Allison University in Canada and her Bachelor of Education from University of Ottawa. In August 2002, Laura joined the staff at Seabreeze School, owned by Rosewood Little Dix Bay with the intention of only staying for a year, but she fell in love with the people and landscape of Virgin Gorda. Instead, she stayed and made Virgin Gorda her home. With the closure of the Seabreeze School in 2003, Laura was able to grow and build on her passion for education at Tiny Treasures Daycare and Preschool, teaching the Preschool class. She later became the manager of the school and a year later, accepted a teaching position at the newly re-opened St. Mary’s School. Laura worked as a teacher of all ages diligently pursuing programme and campus development with her fellow colleagues. In 2010 she was promoted to the post of Principal and as enrolment numbers continued to increase at St. Mary’s further development was needed. In 2015, St. Mary’s changed names to Ciboney Centre for Excellence and in 2018 moved to its permanent location in Handsome Bay. Ciboney is currently home to 119 students from Early Childhood through to Secondary School (grade 12) with a complement of 16 members of staff. While on Virgin Gorda, Laura met and married Simon Fox, in June 2005, and is the proud mother of three amazing children, Noah (13), Eva (11), and Ciel (7). Laura is a passionate member of the Virgin Gorda community. For the past eighteen years, she has been an active crew member and medic with VISAR (Virgin Islands Search and Rescue). In the wake of Hurricane Irma she quickly became an active member of VGROC (Virgin Gorda Recovery Operation Centre), organizing and advocating for Virgin Gorda and its recovery during the aftermath. She also underwent training with DDM to become a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member, and now leads the Virgin Gorda Team, along with the Teen CERT group. She has also been awarded the Queen’s Jubilee medal for long-standing service to VISAR. In her spare time, which is rare, Laura enjoys reading, gardening, sewing, and working with youths and other educators for the development of themselves, as well as the Territory.

Curiosity sits very high on my list. It is a key mindset that leaders must possess, or work to cultivate, in order to allow for growth, development, and harmony within their institution. The art of asking the right questions of the right people and allowing everyone to have a voice allows leaders to listen, and learn, about what is working, what isn’t, and how others feel they can contribute to make it a success. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“As an educator, I have a firm belief that in order to constantly improve and further ourselves and our communities, we must be lifelong learners.”

I feel my growth as a leader has truly manifested since 2017 and the lessons I learned after Hurricanes Irma and Maria collaborating with people of different skill sets, relief organizations, and donors to enable Virgin Gorda to rise up and recover. I now work to see every challenge and obstacle as an opportunity for growth, and a stepping stone to something greater. As the adage goes, “The only thing constant in life is change.” My resilience in getting back up and standing tall, even when people say it cannot be done, is my momentum to ensure we make it happen, and in 2020 we certainly did that. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

In January I purchased Brene Brown’s ‘Dare to Lead’ as part of my School Leaders Reading Group. Not only did I enjoy the book immensely, but it acted as a guide and reference point as our school team worked to navigate, and overcome, the challenges that 2020 brought us. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

As an educator, I have a firm belief that in order to constantly improve and further ourselves and our communities, we must be lifelong learners. Collaboration with different minds and skillsets allows all people a place at the table in their areas of expertise. In 2021 the BVI will need to reinvent and adapt to face the coming changes and our new normal. My wish is that we rise to this challenge, pulling on the expertise of all our citizens, and allow our Territory to excel on the global platform. What keeps you up at night?

I am someone who tends to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I have spent many sleepless nights thinking about everything from family to school to societal issues. However, I have worked hard, especially in 2020, to recognize that no amount of worry will ever make the problem better so I now choose to focus on getting quality sleep and rest so I am on my top game to face what each day brings my way.

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PETRONA DAVIES

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etrona Davies is a highly motivated and goal oriented public service professional, with significant and varied experience in public policy, social policy, administration, governance and strategic management.

As the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health and Social Development since 2008, she has provided policy advice and support to successive Ministers, as they work to achieve the strategic priorities of the government of the day in the areas of public health, social services, gender affairs, housing, correctional services and waste management. Her primary responsibilities have included directing the drafting of multiple pieces of landmark legislation, coordinating major infrastructure projects, overseeing the development of the Virgin Islands National Health Insurance System, managing the Housing Recovery Assistance Programme and Joint Cash Platform for humanitarian assistance. Petrona has also provided leadership to the Ministry and its various departments in the context of the standards, objectives and management practices established for the Public Service. And she has promoted organizational advancement through strategic management, and ensuring the effective implementation of the ministry’s major projects. She has also managed a significant portion of the annual national budget, directed at addressing the many health demands of the territory, by coordinating the production of budget estimates and establishing priorities among conflicting claims on resources; ensuring compliance with financial requirements and policies; and implementing innovative approaches to boost efficiency and securing value for money. During her career, she has contributed to the collective management of the Public Sector, by serving as a member of the corporate body of Senior Managers and contributing to discussions on major Government policies. Petrona’s vast experience has been brought to bear in an indelible way at a critical time, as the territory grapples with the management of the COVID-19 Pandemic response, through the Health Emergency Operations Centre. This crisis has tested and will continue to stress test the mettle, determination and steadfastness of Petrona and her extensive health team. She has clearly demonstrated a keen ability for nimbleness in leading a large team in the midst of a national crisis while deftly staying ahead of an invisible enemy. Her management skills will continue to be critical as we are far from out of the woods, even as we enter the vaccine stage of the management process. Critical to our success in the COVID era, is the management of the territory’s regional and international healthcare relationships. Here again, Ms. Davies has been stellar in providing the requisite leadership to ensure that as a small territory, our needs are never over looked in a challenging atmosphere, where the share of voice could easily determine who gets much needed, but limited assistance. Commenting on the Ministry’s Pandemic response thus far she said “I am extremely proud of the strong collaboration fostered among key agencies, the high levels of community engagement sustained, as well as the professional commitment, dedication, and resilience of workers on the front lines and behind the scenes, who rise to the challenge of minimising the negative impacts of COVID-19.” Ms. Davies has held many government positions since 1988, when she began her career as a clerical trainee at the Chief Minister’s Office. She has been a Social Worker, an Executive Director of the National Drug Advisory Council, Coordinator of the Public Sector Development Programme, and Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Premier’s Office. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Criminal Justice summa cum laude from the Alabama A&M University in the United States in 1994, she earned a Masters in Governance and Development Management from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

“Take nothing for granted; seek out and value the positive aspects of each new challenge.“

Curiosity sits among the top three management traits that guide my work, right up there with versatility and commitment. By asking the right questions I have benefited immensely from the wisdom of a wide array of leaders and mentors throughout my career. They don’t call me, I call them. The appetite to learn and uncover core issues, strengths and novel solutions has been imperative to the success of the multi-faceted organization that I have the privilege to lead. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Amidst the many personal and professional disruptions over the course of 2020, I can honestly say that the experience has led to the discovery of deeper meaning and purpose on both fronts. In essence, my coping strategy was to take nothing for granted; to seek out and value the positive aspects of each new challenge. Being part of a team that was laser focused on the life-saving mission of the Territory’s COVID-19 response, inspired fresh perspectives on our interconnectedness, vulnerability, adaptability and ultimate resilience as individuals and communities. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021

I wish the BVI would truly embrace its diversity, awaken untapped potential and repudiate any forces that may undermine the cohesion and solidarity required for our collective benefit and long-term success on the world stage. What keeps you up at night?

Am I focused on the right things? How can I leverage more resources to improve the conditions of persons that are socially and economically disadvantaged? What else should I be doing to achieve a more fair and just society? How can I inspire the next generation of leaders to care about these questions?


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HON. SHEREEN FLAX-CHARLES

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un, sand and sea’, for many this phrase has become synonymous with Caribbean living and tourism across the world relies heavily on this simple, alliterative statement of natural beauty and tranquility. Not only does the three S’s attract city-living tourists, but they have also been a siren’s call to many tourism professionals; the ode to marketing nature, culture and experience as a product that epitomises the tourism industry. But for Hon. Shereen Flax-Charles, tourism is not just an industry that called her. Tourism was watching her mother Norma gracefully entertaining first time visitors at her cozy hotel on Virgin Gorda and sitting in her father’s taxi as he regaled tourists with the sort of exaggerated stories that they never quite forget. Tourism has been with her since she can remember and her dynamic career reflects her dedication to the craft and business of selling the Virgin Islands. It was in the kitchen and on the shore collecting towels that Hon. Flax-Charles first learned the hallmarks of good service; a genuine and generous spirit and a love for the experience that you are selling. Having faced the incredible challenge of secondary education in the neighbouring Territory of the United States Virgin Islands successfully, young Shereen immediately went on to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from thee College of the Virgin Islands. Ever the hospitality savant, she maintained consistent part-time employment in her family’s hotel and her father’s taxi association. This participation in the family industry of service continued well beyond her studies and finally transcended a familial role with her becoming an integral part of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board. As an all-rounder to the Flax’s tourism empire, sales associate at Virgin Gorda’s largest hotel and service agent to American Eagle, Shereen was well equipped as a gifted service professional to begin her tenure as the Tourist Board’s Virgin Gorda Branch Manager. While Tortola is the commercial hub of the Territory, Virgin Gorda, with its pristine beaches and geological wonders that are boulders at the Baths, is the mecca of tourism. Under her leadership, the product that was Virgin Gorda was marketed at its true worth. Consistency and dedication have always been deep principles of Shereen’s career. It was only after twenty years of operational excellence that she set her sights on a new opportunity to contribute; public office. Queen Shereen was her calypsonian moniker; the name that had become associated with candour, grit and witty social commentary, but the Honourable Shereen Flax-Charles became a title of even greater importance when people from across the Territory voted this political newcomer as their at-large representative. Her resume spoke for itself, Hon. Flax-Charles was immediately charged with the portfolio of tourism and she hit the ground running. With her sights now on policy and strategy, the Junior Minister for Tourism has developed comprehensive, transformative plans for reintroducing culture as a pillar of the Virgin Islands’ tourist experience. She believes that sun, sand and sea can be found across the world, but peas soup with sugar and milk, our savvy, sarcastic genre of music and our passion for life are elusive, and native only to Nature’s Little Secrets. She then experienced an exciting transition; assuming the dynamic role of Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development. To Hon. Flax-Charles, tourism in the BVI is maintained by the creativity and enterprise of entrepreneurs across the Territory and so the new role felt as natural as the sail from Virgin Gorda to Tortola. Over the last year, she has brought a service centred approach to maximising on the capacity of our entrepreneurial product with key focussed on youth enterprise, cross island commerce and diversifying and enhancing tourism facing businesses.

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

I am willing to admit that in my younger years I found the idea of change to be slightly frightening. So for me, inquisitiveness and curiosity were among my less favoured attributes both in myself as a leader and in team members. But as our BVI has been tried by fire and forced to evolve ever so rapidly it has been my lesson in life that the minds of our most adaptive lie with the curious. Curiosity is nothing but the first spark of a desire to push pass the norm; learning to grow, develop and adapt beyond the boundaries of what is considered typical. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

“In 2021, my greatest desire and goal as a leader is to see the BVI healthy. “

To be quite honest, I believe that any leader that refers back to a strategy as the source for their survival of the challenges of 2020 is quite superhuman. For the rest of us, surviving 2020 is more a testament to being able to function in the void of any written plan. In our constant need to pivot and restructure though, I found that it was critical to be able to effectively communicate and exemplify compliance particularly to the abundance of protocols that made ‘the new normal’. Our belief in faith and family also were pillars of shared value that aided in unifying us through it all. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

I grew up as an avid reader, my parents spared no expense in making sure that my siblings and I had an abundance of written material with which to get familiar. But life has been no facilitator of merriment and hobbies, so in the last few years as a representative my leisurely escape has been somewhat thwarted. As a representative however, my nose is always buried now most frequently in legislative affairs. I have committed myself to being familiar not just with our general constitution but with the finer details of every act, bill, amendment or other article presented to us in the House of Assembly. I will not represent blindly. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021

This is perhaps the obvious answer, but simplicity is no crime. In 2021, my greatest desire and goal as a leader is to see the BVI healthy. Health, of course, has its breadth, and just like in the body, with its homeostatic properties, can be defined by balance. I wish for us social cohesion, public health, a diversified economy and cultural balance. What keeps you up at night?

To be honest, nothing keeps me up at night. As hectic and as crazy things can get, once I am certain of the security and health of my family I allow myself to rest. Only being rested can allow me to best serve my God, my family, my people, my role and of course myself.


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KATHERINE A. SMITH

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

In my opinion, curiosity is linked to learning and both are crucial traits in management. In terms of managing people and events or even the production of work in general, I believe there is an endless learning curve - especially in order to understand what was successful or unsuccessful. Of course in terms of managing cultural and heritage work, a natural curiosity has allowed me to constantly dig deeper and deeper.

D

r. Katherine A. Smith was born on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and received her Ph.D. in History from Howard University in 2009. Dr. Smith began her career at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) in 2008 where she served as Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences and Communication and later on as Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Virgin Islands Studies Institute at the HLSCC - all over a period of 11 years. During that period, Dr. Smith also served on the boards of various non-profit organisations and on national committees related to matters of culture and heritage. Between 2014 and 2018, Dr. Smith provided leadership and oversight, through a non-profit initiative entitled the Association for the Preservation of Virgin Islands Culture and Heritage (APVIH), for the implementation of all aspects and phases of the African Burial Ground Restoration Project at St. Philip’s Anglican Church, British Virgin Islands. Katherine is also a longstanding member and member of the executive board of the Territory’s African Studies Klub (ASK). She was also a member of the Association for the Promotion of Arts and Culture (APAC). She also serves as a member of Territory’s UNESCO Memory of the World Committee and the Virgin Islands Festivals and Fairs Committee. She was also a member of the Virgin Islands Climate Change Trust Fund Board. While she was completing research for her dissertation for the Ph.D. in the United Kingdom, Dr. Smith worked at two museums in the UK: the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, as the Understanding Slavery Project Officer in the Learning and Interpretation Department and the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol as a senior researcher - on its “Breaking the Chains: An Exhibition to Commemorate the 1807 British Parliamentary Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade” commemoration. She minored in public history during her Ph.D. studies and is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies through the Harvard University Extension School. Dr. Smith has been very active in the fields of culture, heritage, and public history in the BVI over the years. She has been actively involved in historical restoration, the development of historical sites and museums, the delivery of historical/heritage tours, as well as training of stakeholders in the delivery of heritage tours (educators, taxi drivers), the development and coordination of certified training programmes, and the production of publications, in the areas of heritage and public history as well as teaching at the community college level. In fact, she continues to teach the Virgin Islands History course at the HLSCC. In 2019 Dr. Smith returned, as Director of Culture, to the Government of the Virgin Islands - where she had been first employed after completing her Bachelor of Arts. As Director of Culture, she serves as the chief advisor to government on matters relating to culture, the arts and heritage. Along with management and supervisory responsibilities, she is tasked with presenting a reform strategy for the modernization of the Department as well as managing the development of cultural policy, strategy, legislation, and projects. Currently, Katherine is interested in three broad areas: cultural heritage, which includes the intangible and tangible heritage, the creative industries, and cultural and heritage education.

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What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Truly, the best strategy that has helped me in getting through 2020 has been that strategy of collaboration, a key strategy to me because it enriches and strengthens any efforts being made. Collaboration is also one of my favourite strategies, because it suggests unity of purpose.

“Collaboration enriches and strengthens any efforts being made, and it suggests unity of purpose.”

What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

I would say I most enjoyed getting the chance to sit down and read “Things I Remember and More: Looking Back at the Past” by Donald L. de Castro. I am always trying to visualise Old Main Street as it would have been, and this book allowed me to develop a great visual, in terms of who lived where and what was where. There were a lot of significant “firsts” for the Virgin Islands during the book’s time period. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

My number one wish for the BVI in 2021 has been a longstanding desire of mine, and that is that Virgin Islanders articulate and express a strong cultural identity. My wish is that this identity is based on a shared, accurate, widely known cultural heritage and is suited for purpose in today’s world. My wish is for this cultural identity and heritage to be acknowledged, respected and honoured, including through a vibrant culture of the arts. What keeps you up at night?

The thing that keeps me up at night is the fear that the ancestors of our Virgin Islands soil are constantly forgotten and dishonoured. It is always on mind that the physical reminders (tangible heritage such as historical sites, museums, burial grounds, shipwrecks) of their presence and what they sacrificed and accomplished are not fully developed in the Territory. It always upsets me that our children do not have the full knowledge of the ancestors/heroes/freedom fighters who, laid the foundations for the Virgin Islands today.


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LISA LOU

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS

s. Lisa Lou is the President of the Bank of Asia based in the BVI, where she oversees the Bank’s global operations and leads the development and delivery of banking services. With more than 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, working with leading global banks, she has a wealth of knowledge about financial services both in China and in the global markets. Prior to joining the Bank of Asia, Ms. Lou was Senior Managing Director and China country head of Global Services with State Street Bank, as well as the general manager of State Street’s Beijing Branch. She was responsible for managing State Street Global Services business and leading its China Strategy. Before that, between 2011 and 2017 she was engaged at JP Morgan Chase Bank China as Managing Director and the head of financial institutions and public sector clients for China, and general manager of its Beijing Branch, where she was responsible for deepening client relationships and delivering overall revenue targets. Lisa also had responsibility for the design and execution of China strategy for clients including delivering overall revenue targets of $350 million, deepening client relationships, enhancing cross-selling and improving cross-selling ratios, and developing new revenue streams. She was also responsible for full governance of the Beijing branch, which is the flagship branch for JP China in terms of all measures including profit, number of staff, deposit, and assets. Under her leadership, the branch achieved satisfactory rating for both internal and external ratings. Previously, Lisa held a number of senior management roles at Standard Chartered Bank China and HSBC Australia, covering various client segments and product lines. She has worked and lived in Mainland China, Australia, Hong Kong and United Kingdom extensively.

Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Among the top 3 as I believe curiosity nurtures creativity, innovation and an open mind. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Prepare for all uncertainties.

“Prepare for all uncertainties”

What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

From Good to Great by Jim Collins. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

For the BVI to go fully digital. What keeps you up at night?

I sleep well. One thing I think about a lot lately – How can the BVI best capture its share of the most valuable opportunities presented worldwide, given the changing landscape.

Ms. Lou received her Master of Commerce in Advanced Finance from University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and Master of Economics from Tianjin University of Economics and Finance.

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JULIA SHAMINI CHASE

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A dynamic and passionate speaker, Shamini has presented on BVI regulatory topics at several local and international conferences and has also worked with the BVI Financial Services Commission (“BVI FSC”) and the BVI Financial Services Institute (“FSI”) as a course trainer for the BVI FSC/FSI Master Class Series in Compliance Training. She has earned a solid reputation for efficient preparation and submission of complex licensing applications to the BVIFSC and seeing them through to successful conclusion. Shamini is also known for her ability to develop practical, effective and efficient remediation strategies for various financial intermediaries, subject to regulatory enforcement action. Shamini is a qualified attorney-at-law holding a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Banking and Finance Law from the University of London with a Fintech Diploma from Harvard School of Business. In addition to being a member of the International Compliance Association, she also serves as an external faculty member and is called to the Bars of Saint Lucia and the British Virgin Islands. She is also a member of the International Compliance Association and also serves as an external faculty member. Shamini is called to the Bars of Saint Lucia and the British Virgin Islands and was appointed as a member of the BVI Fintech Committee in April 2019.

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Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Very high. Curiosity allows me to ensure that both myself as a professional, and my brand, are constantly evolving to provide my clients with the best solutions. Therefore, I am never stagnant. I am always thinking about a new opportunity or a better way to enhance an existing product. From a management perspective, constantly involving and soliciting feedback from my staff also ensures that I am building a robust team who as invested in the products and solutions that they deliver.

ulia Shamini Chase is a well-known and highly respected regulatory attorney and compliance specialist in the British Virgin Islands. She is often sought out for her commercially pragmatic approach in providing regulatory and compliance guidance. She strives, in her practice, to find practical, effective and timely solutions for her clients. Shamini is the Founder and Managing Director of Gold Leaf Consulting Services Limited, which she established in 2017 as a financial regulatory and compliance consultancy firm, with offices in the BVI and Saint Lucia. The company is licensed and regulated by the BVI Financial Services Commission. Gold Leaf’s clients comprise a wide cross-section of entities, including trust companies operating globally; international banks; Fintech service providers; law firms; licensed investment business entities; insurance companies; and money transmission services providers. Shamini and her team are entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding their client’s reputations, by providing robust and pragmatic regulatory solutions and to ensure that they are aware of BVI regulatory obligations.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

“I am always thinking about a new opportunity or a better way to enhance an existing product.”

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

Perseverance. Where there is a will, there is a way. I believe in planning (and our Vision 2020 Plan helped our clients to exceed their 2020 goals, despite the pandemic). I always design my own personal and professional action plan for the year. Sometimes events, such as the pandemic, can threaten to derail our plans. My strategy was to not allow that to happen. Where there is a will, there is a way! What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

Becoming by Michelle Obama Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

That we are able to build a stronger, qualified and experienced local pool of financial practitioners. What keeps you up at night?

Ensuring that I am tapping into my true potential and not allowing fear or any other circumstances to overshadow my goal of global expansion.


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SHAINA M. SMITH-ARCHER

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haina M. Smith-Archer is the chairwoman of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association, the leading business association in the British Virgin Islands. Shaina is an experienced management consultant with strong community ties. Strategic planning, operational improvement planning and project management are her highest skillset. She is resultoriented and a leader with a proven ability for strategic thinking and problem solving. She thrives in dynamic environments while remaining realistic and focused. Shaina is able to relate technical and business perspectives for more efficient operations and has done this for both the public sector and non-profit organisations. Since 2011, Shaina has been the Managing Director at Smith & Associates and as the principal management consultant and project manager, she prepares project plans, schedules and budgets on a daily basis. Additionally, she provides project life-cycle management, conducts operational assessments, implements recommendations, and advises on business start-up operations and business plan writing. Her role extends to conducting training in leadership development, customer service, and business etiquette. Aside from excelling in her professional role, she has been in the forefront of training others since 2012 as a National Workshop Coordinator through the Caribbean Development Bank’s Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services. Most recently, she was the project manager for JOMA Cedar building, which was built between 2019 and 2020.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Curiosity is a highly valuable management trait, as it helps me keep an open mind when brainstorming solutions for a problem, re-engineering a process or starting a business. It also allows me to consider new ways to doing things better, because I am always asking why not? As a leader, curiosity allows you to imagine the seemingly impossible to realise competitive advantage. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

It was important in the first month of the pandemic for me to be flexible with plans, after it was apparent that the pandemic was going to be a long-term situation. It helped me to adapt as needed, change routines and create new ones to remain productive. My faith in God provided stability amidst the uncertainty and I remained hopeful that despite the crisis, I would land on my feet, because the pandemic might have surprised us but not God. What book you most enjoyed reading

“I would like to see the focus be on how people are educated, equipped, and empowered to be the drivers in our economy, and not projects.”

in 2020?

I enjoyed the book Indistractable by Nir Eyal the most last year because it helped me become more focused in achieving my goals given all the uncertainty and chaos around me. I learnt new tactics to help me improve both strengths and weaknesses, be more balanced in my lifestyle and reminded me that change is the only constant in life. Our response to change is what makes us resilient when we feel like surrendering to our circumstances. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

Mrs. Smith-Archer worked with the Government of the Virgin Islands Ministry of Health and Social Development as a project engineer and project manager for several large projects. These include the state-of-the-art medical centre on Virgin Gorda between 2015 and 2019, the rehabilitation of community centres and hurricane shelters from Hurricane Irma between 2018 and 2019, a new hospital in-patient imagine unit in 2017, and the transfer of clinical services to a new hospital in 2016. In 2013, she was responsible for project schedules, budget estimates, documentation of all pertinent information, and assistance in monitoring the completion of a new hospital building at Peebles Hospital, now the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital. The projects that she managed for the government ranged between $800,000 and $31 million. Ms. Smith also served as a senior project officer, a project engineer, and the manager for project support services for the Ministry of Finance between 2003 and 2011.

My number one wish for my Virgin Islands in 2021, is to take the lessons learnt from the crucible of 2020 to create a national development plan, that outlines a vision that will guide our sustainable socioeconomic development over the next two decades, through good governance. The economic and social vulnerabilities exposed after the 2017 hurricanes and during the 2020 pandemic, should be high priorities in the plan so that in future crisis, we are in a stronger position to respond well and not just react. I would like to see the focus be on how people are educated, equipped, and empowered to be the drivers in our economy, and not projects.

Having earned a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the University of Central Florida in 1999, Ms. Smith-Archer obtained a Master’s in Industrial Engineering & Management Systems three years later. She received Six Sigma Green Belt and Construction Project Management certifications from the Kaplan Continuing Education and Royal Institute in 2012 and 2018, respectively. Additionally, she has trained in workplace mediation at the London School of Mediation and the Mediation Institute international.

What keeps you up at night?

Mrs. Smith-Archer serves as the Project Coordinator for the New Life Baptist Church and was president of the Virgin Islands Civil Service Association from 2006 to 2008. She has been a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honour Society since 1998.

Not much keeps me up at night but I am concerned that we are not intentional enough about the development of the human capital in our country. I believe we are missing opportunities to ensure that the next generation of community, business and political leaders are mentored and groomed so they are ready to take up the mantle when it is their time. This requires us to challenge the status quo and believe that we are capable of being responsible for our destiny because we are already making decisions today, good and bad, that will affect their longterm success in life.

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS

ALIVERN SMITH-HARRIGAN

Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

livern Smith Harrigan has led bank overall management and operations at one of the biggest banks in the British Virgin Islands for over six years. At Banco Popular, she coordinates, administrates, controls, and supervises all operations. She also manages long-term and short-term objectives, oversees the promotion of products and services, reaches out to new markets and is charged with increasing market share to maintain a competitive position in the industry. Additionally, she is responsible for continuously revising and updating internal processes, measurements, programs and policies to improve and achieve expected outcomes.

What 2020 has shown us most of all, is a need to be flexible and versatile. So, whereas getting through 2020 required the adoption of multiple strategies, a top one that comes to mind is remaining fully abreast of international, regional and local developments. A key aspect in being able to cope with the new normal was the ability to discern and find truth and positivity from the overabundance of untruths, misinformation, negativity and conspiracy theories that if you were not careful could easily have led you astray.

A

Alivern began her banking career back in 1990 as a teller at First Pennsylvania Bank. This heralded a thirteen year stint with this organization which became Corestates First Pennsylvania Bank before it was taken over by Banco Popular in September 1992. In 2003, Alivern had achieved the position of Bank Consultant and she decided to take a break from banking to pursue some personal ventures. However, it was not too long before her banking bug bit again and she was recruited as a Sales and Service Officer at First Caribbean International Bank. In this position she played a key role in launching the Electronic Payroll Processing system and spearheaded a program to update and cleanup files for commercial clients. In 2007 she returned to her banking home, Banco Popular, in training for the Branch Manager position which she assumed a few months later. She served as Branch Manager between 2007 and 2014. During these years, she expertly managed branch staff to ensure compliance with policies, procedures and controls. With effective communication of institutional standards, goals, and expectations, Alivern also provided motivation, recognition, coaching and skill development on a consistent basis. Her accomplishments at the bank are quantifiable. Under her supervision, the branch achieved an increase of 12% in total deposits and 10% in the assets under management. The branch remained in full compliance with all training and certification requirements. A particularly noteworthy achievement was when, under her watch the Tortola branch received an overall Branch Experience Assessment score of 97%. Alivern’s ascendancy through the ranks in banking is a result of her hard work, dedication and commitment to always strive for excellence. This positive mindset was bolstered and supplemented by her participation over the course of her career, in a robust and well-structured on the job training and employee development program, which included myriad BVI, USVI and online internal training initiatives, as well as attendance at relevant conferences and symposiums in Puerto Rico and Miami. Alivern is a true testament and is living proof of the truth of the popular saying that, “in life your attitude determines your altitude.”

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It sits very high up on the list, because in the current business environment where technology plays such an important role, you are always in a constant battle with competitors to see who will rise to the top. While I am confident that from the technology perspective, Banco Popular is unmatched in the BVI, I am always curious to know what is around the corner, what new and innovative products are in the pipeline, which will provide value and benefit to our customers and so help us to maintain our leadership position. What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

“We can’t relive today tomorrow, so we need to make each day count.“

I would say that my favourite read for 2020 was Becoming by Michelle Obama. I didn’t have to read far before finding something that struck a chord with me. In the preface she says “Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child – What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.” My takeaway is that as we live our lives daily, we are constantly evolving and becoming or changing who we want to become. We can’t relive today tomorrow, so we need to make each day count. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021

My number one wish for the BVI in 2021 is that all the stakeholders unite and adopt an all hands-on deck approach to our economic and social recovery. It is important for the Government, the private sector (with input from all the major industry pillars), BV Islanders, Belongers and other residents of all races and beliefs come together, so we can chart a course towards recovery that will allow us to once again become the financially sound, culturally rich and greatly admired territory of the past. Without this our future is insecure! What keeps you up at night?

With God’s grace and mercies keeping me, I sleep well at night and nothing really keeps me up other than the odd case of heartburn when I binge eat late at night which I confess to doing every now and then. However, if I were to list my top concern it would be: How to stop the BVI from losing its culture and identity. This is crucial to the future generation. A people who don’t know who they are, don’t know where they are going.


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SABINAH CLEMENT

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abinah Clement is the Managing Director of Intertrust Corporate Services (BVI) Limited the BVI branch of the Intertrust Group, which provides a wide range of corporate, fiduciary and company secretarial services to entities formed in the BVI. She provides the leadership and direction of the company and is responsible for its sustainability and profitability. Ms. Clements is a dedicated, results-driven professional with a proven record in developing and implementing operational procedures within a fast-paced, team-centered environment with a focus on developing human resource potential. A strong leader and collaborative communicator, She is continually focused on delivering on clients’ needs and building strong client relationships. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the company and all its subsidiaries as well as acting as an independent director of client entities spanning various industries. She oversees risk management and operational activities: compliance, policies and procedures, financial management, revenue generation, information systems and day to day operations. She’s also a member of the Review and Acceptance Committee for new business across Intertrust’s five operational offices in the Americas. Ms. Clement trained and supervised Client Relationship Teams in BVI, Dubai and Hong Kong while acting as a Compliance Officer and Anti-Money Laundering Reporting Officer for the company. With over twenty years’ experience in the financial services sector in senior management positions, prior to joining the Intertrust Group, Sabinah worked with Harneys in their BVI and Cayman Islands offices in various senior roles, such as Manager of the Investment Funds and Regulatory Department and Practice Manager. Ms. Clement earned her Professional Certificate in Paralegal Studies from the University of the West Indies in 2002, shortly thereafter earning her Certificate in Offshore Finance and Administration from the Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators in London. In 2007, she received both a Diploma in Offshore Finance & Administration and her MBA from the University of the West Indies. She earned her Postgraduate Diploma in International Business Law from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom in 2018. In 2020, she earned her Master of Laws in Corporate Governance and Law from the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. Sabinah is heavily involved in sports administration locally and internationally, serving as the Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel, as well as a member of the Legal Commission of the International Volleyball Federation. She is also a member of the Board of Administration of the North, Central Americas and Caribbean Regional Volleyball Confederation and sits on the Executive Committee of the BVI Olympic Committee. She is also a member of Rotary International.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Where does curiosity sit on your list of management traits?

Curiosity ranks fairly highly, because I enjoy unravelling a problem in order to come up with a solution. I do however, have to tone it down sometimes, as it can lead me down a rabbit hole and distract me from things that may require more of my attention at the time.

“My coping mechanism was to avoid being over burdened with the chaos of the world by focusing on the positives present in my own life.”

What strategy best helped you in getting thru 2020?

My coping mechanism was to avoid being over burdened with the chaos of the world by focusing on the positives present in my own life. I isolated myself with a small group of persons who bring me joy and laughter and keep me grounded. What book you most enjoyed reading in 2020?

Although I love reading, I did not get to do much in 2020 because I was engaged in research and writing a dissertation. Your number one wish for the BVI in 2021?

My wish is for the BVI to develop a better system of managing our garbage. This needs to include improving on the current process of garbage collection in open bins along the roadsides, better methods of disposal and of course, to increase recycling. What keeps you up at night?

I am concerned about the pace and manner in which we develop new and modify current legislation, impacting financial services. I worry that I might miss something critical in the rush to digest the changes and adapt our business model to either comply or benefit from any opportunities which arise.

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Real Estate THE PROPERTY SPOTLIGHT, YOUR MOVE

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Real Estate

The outlook for real estate EDWARD CHILDS

The Beach House in Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

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If someone had given me a crystal ball a year ago and asked me to hypothesize on the next twelve months, the word “pandemic” would not have been at the top of my list. Trade wars (read China), the US presidential election, Brexit, economic outlook, climate change – all of these would have made the top ten. Pandemic? Lockdowns? Furlough? I’ll leave that to Hollywood. Twelve months on, and perceptions have changed, brought on by an invisible virus, whose ability to spread seems to know no bounds. Going shopping? – wear a mask; take your children to school? – hand sanitize; don’t stand closer than six feet to someone not in your social bubble. Just when the BVI was moving away from the shadow of Irma, a new, but more sinister, natural phenomenon was taking over our existence. The question we all want to know –

when will it end?

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Real Estate

General impact of the pandemic

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With the mention of a new flu-like virus circulating in Wuhan City, China at the start of 2020, little attention was paid by the West to the first reports, probably a reflection of how SARS and then MERS both petered out in earlier years without spreading too far – certainly not enough to worry about from our Western sanctuary. By early February, Western countries were paying attention with the first cases being detected (although later research demonstrated that the virus had spread out of China before the end of 2019) and by the end of March, much of the world was in lockdown. Different strategies for coping with the spread of the virus, contributed to the rapid transmission amongst the population, with countries slow to ban flights from impacted areas and to undertake community testing once test kits were available. Now, some eight months later, countries are struggling to keep their economies open, as the second wave of the pandemic surges through America and Europe with politicians balancing the need to encourage people back to work and keep schools open, against the rise of transmissions within the local population and overwhelming health systems. There are no easy choices. The Caribbean region, and other island nations, have generally been an example on how to isolate, with Governments quick to close borders and issue strict lockdown measures in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. However, when some island economies opened up in July, there was a spike in cases from visitors and returning nationals as seen in the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Barbados, demonstrating just how difficult it can be to re-open borders and keep the virus at bay.

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Turks and Caicos Islands Source: Wikipedia

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Antigua & Barbuda Source: Wikipedia

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Apart from a single spike from returning nationals in late June, Antigua has so far managed both to open the island to tourism and manage cases very well, keeping infections low. Graph 1 shows the number of infections per day for the Turks and Caicos Islands and Antigua & Barbuda, indicating the impact of reopening borders on different islands. For most of the summer months of 2020, the BVI coped incredibly well with just eight confirmed cases (and sadly one death) and a healthy internal economy, before a border breach from the US Virgin Islands introduced the virus into the general population. As shown in Graph 2, cases spiked within two weeks and the BVI went back into curfew at the end of August. Thankfully, by late September, this flurry of cases appeared to be under control and the Government announced plans to open the borders to tourists from 1 December initially much to the relief of local businesses and potential tourists alike.

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British Virgin Islands Source: Wikipedia

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After the initial announcement that the BVI would open to tourists on 1 December, the Government held consultations with local stakeholders to obtain feedback on their provisional protocols. Despite concerns within the tourism and business community that the protocols would create an unattractive framework for visitors to enter the BVI, they were announced by the Government on 26 October. The initial reaction was not positive from either the business community or the many tourists who had been holding reservations, and in the first few days after the announcement, many reservations were cancelled.


Real Estate

The protocols, as announced on 26 October, required hotels and villas to be certified as approved establishments, with staff trained in dealing and working with COVID-19. For tourists, they needed to undertake a total of four PCR tests (before arrival, on-arrival, day four and day 8) as well as quarantine in the approved establishment for eight days. If the tourist had a negative test on day four, they were to be allowed some additional limited access to unspecified locations within the BVI. A negative test on day 8 would have allowed open access to the BVI. This has all been updated, with quarantine days now standing at four. As we enter 2021, the government has begun the rollout of the vaccine, with the UK having dispatched a total of 8,000 doses, with more forthcoming by the end of the first quarter. Notwithstanding the vaccine rollout, governments still need to plan for another twelve months of disruption, providing support to businesses struggling to cope with the extended impacts of the pandemic. In the BVI, there are serious concerns in the tourism sector as to how companies will survive without a viable high season. Initial reactions from tourists to what seemed onerous protocols, were not encouraging and it is now clear that there will not be a season per se. The impact on the world economy, resulting from the pandemic has been wide ranging, with Governments putting emergency measures in place to protect people and businesses, resulting in a substantial increase in national debt. To put this in context, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies estimated that around US$7 trillion of debt had been incurred by the G20 countries on direct spending, tax relief and lending by the end of May 2020, which far exceeded the fiscal support given by Governments during the economic downturn of 2008-10. The need for Government support continues as the impacts of the pandemic show no sign of slowing, and predictions for economies to rebound in the near term are now being questioned as Governments are tackling the second wave of the pandemic and being forced into tiered lockdowns depending on regional severity. The role of central banks in the support of economies mirrors the actions taken following the 2007 financial crisis, with quantitative easing (QE) programmes employed to enable central banks to purchase Government debt, to keep the cost of government borrowing low. In short, the QE approach helps stabilize economies and keeps interest rates down. The economic recovery in the US has been more promising as GDP reflected significant growth from the reopening of the economy over the summer and the New York Reserve’s Weekly Economic Indicator indicated the economy was -3.9% behind the same mid-October period a year prior as shown in Graph 3. By the end of September, over half the jobs lost in March and April had been regained. The US housing market is performing strongly with increases in both new start development and re-sales, bolstered by the Federal Reserve stating that interest rates will not change until inflation increases.

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New York Federal Reserve weekly economic index

Weekly economic index

Forecast

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0.00

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-6.00

-9.00

-12.00 4 Mar

8 Apr

Source: New York Federal Reserve/McVean Weekly Economic Update

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However, once the Workers Stimulus Payment scheme ended in July, the partisan negotiations on the COVID-19 relief bill for continued financial support ended abruptly in early October with the then President terminating discussions with his Democratic rivals, until after the election leading to concerns that the economic recovery could stall as job losses accelerate. Any new stimulus package now rests on the shoulders of the new administration with a $2 trillion stimulus package on the table. Any continued delay in negotiating the stimulus package risks the economy falling into recession. While the national lockdown has been devastating for many, particularly where jobs have been lost, the chance to work from home, cutting out travel costs and child care fees plus extraneous social expenditure, has led to a spike in savings which nearly quadrupled in the US between February and April 2020, peaking at 33.6% of income after taxes. This reflects the uncertainty that people feel about their immediate future and the need to pay off debt and build up savings, thereby limiting the expenditure that would otherwise help boost the economy. When Government income support winds down, it will be the lower income earners and unemployed who will be facing the bleaker future. The pandemic may also be fostering some long-term trends as highspeed internet connections have lessened the need to work in an office and enabled children to be schooled on-line. The growth of Amazon and on-line shopping has accelerated, as consumers have sought to avoid unnecessary social interactions, with retail outlets impacted through reduced market share. When the vaccine is eventually universally available, we will emerge into a different world where a single natural phenomenon will have altered the way we interact.

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17 Feb


Real Estate

BVI Government’s response to pandemic

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The Government’s reaction in March of last year to the pandemic and a quick lockdown, was widely praised as it effectively stopped the spread of the virus with the result that few cases emerged. However, these measures had a significant financial impact on the BVI, not just in terms of lost income through lower taxes (pay roll tax, NHI, social security) as employees have been laid off but the corresponding increase in costs resulting from the support package the Government has put in place. Announced in early June, the BVI Government’s stimulus package comprised $62.9M, funded primarily by the Social Security Board through a $40M grant. This grant was divided into a $10M unemployment fund; $9M to repair homes damaged in the 2017 hurricanes; $6.5M in business grants; $7.5M to support the NHI programme and allocations to support various industries including hospitality, day care, fishing and farming. District representatives and at-large representatives also had $300,000 to spend on a discretionary

basis. As part of the larger package, the Government revived a $17M Social Security Board housing project at Joe’s Hill providing 43 residential units for first time owners and also committing a further $2M into infrastructure projects. The Government has yet to announce whether it will extend the “layoff” period which expired on 31 October. This is the time allowed by employers to temporarily lay-off employees without having to sever them which was extended in June from three months to seven months. This extension, combined with the Government’s unemployment fund, has been the main support for local business owners who have been unable to operate without the tourist industry or for other reasons. If the decision is made not to extend the lay-off period, then many firms may have to sever employees, which will make it much more difficult to restart the economy once the BVI does re-open. This being, due in large part to the time taken to process work permits for any positions which cannot be filled locally.

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BVI and UK relations

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A shortfall of $42M in government revenues in 2020 is projected as a result of the pandemic, the BVI Government has petitioned the UK Government to make changes to the regulations and protocols for how the BVI borrows and spends money. First established in 2012, the Protocols for Effective Financial Management set out the limits for Government spending and borrowing, but are now seen by the BVI Government as being too restrictive at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is reducing revenues and creating additional costs. While still to agree to any changes to the 2012 agreement, the UK has indicated, according to Premier Fahie, that there could be room for negotiation. The Government has a new agenda regarding the relationship with the UK and has set out the framework for discussions on the upcoming constitutional review. While the relationship between the BVI Government and the UK appointed Governor, has at times been strained since the 2019 elections, Premier Fahie has highlighted the need to update the 2007 constitution and address the UK/BVI relationship in light of the UK’s exit from the EU, the on-going recovery from the 2017 hurricanes and the continued contraction of the financial services sector. In late September, the move by the Governor to invite the Royal Navy to secure and patrol the BVI border against the stated wishes of the BVI Government, created a diplomatic spat between the locally elected politicians and Whitehall. In June 2020, the Government announced the establishment of a Constitutional Review Committee which will conduct a full review of the 2007 constitution. The review will include public forums and should take approximately six months to conclude. Some areas the Premier wishes to see addressed, are the control of the public service through the Ministries rather than through the Governor, and the question of confidentiality in the interactions between the Governor and the Premier. While discussions will address the nature of the relationship between the UK and the BVI, there have not been calls to seek

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independence from the UK, at least publicly. One Minister has called for the relationship to move to a “free association”, whereby a relationship is maintained with the UK, but without controls over how the BVI governs itself. As the BVI approaches the 4 year anniversary of Hurricane Irma, the need to continue the recovery is as evident as before, with the Government announcing that it will encourage investment through infrastructure projects. Post Irma, the establishment of the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) created an independent entity to administer the many expected contracts that would be awarded and managed in a transparent manner. While the RDA continues to approve, execute and administer contracts under the BVI Recovery and Development Plan, the scope of the work undertaken by the RDA has been reigned in under the current administration which seeks to control what projects are approved and how the funds are administered. As part of the approval of the £300 million loan guarantee offered by UK as part of the recovery programme, the current administration met with UK officials in September 2019 to discuss the terms and conditions for the guarantee. This resulted in a number of additional actions, including the preparation of the Recovery to Development Plan of the Virgin Islands 2019-2023 and the establishment of a Borrowing and Steering Committee, which will be the body responsible for securing loans under the UK’s guarantee including negotiating terms for any borrowing agreement within internationally adopted debt sustainability indicators. The development plan was submitted to the UK Government for review and was approved by the BVI House of Assembly on 24 June 2020. The revised plan allows the BVI Government to renegotiate the terms and conditions offered by lending institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank. The UK, as guarantor to the loan, has yet to approve the revised plan.


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Impact of pandemic on tourism and development

A

At the end of 2019, the BVI tourism industry was looking forward to its first high season following Hurricane Irma where the BVI felt like a destination which had moved beyond recovery. With a growing number of tourists and many previously closed resorts and villas opened for business, including Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, there was much optimism for increased tourism on land and sea alike. The number of overnight tourists had increased to 302,449 by December 2019 and was expected to grow significantly in 2020. The yacht charter industry, which had rebounded so well after Irma and supported the tourism industry in the first year, was particularly well placed to move back to pre-Irma levels of business.

British Virgin Islands: Annual overnight and cruise ship visitors 2017-2020 Cruise ship Visitors

Annual visitors

800,000

Overnight Visitors Border Closure

Hurricane Irma

12 month average

600,000

400,000

Projected

200,000

0

Having been devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the owners of Bitter End Yacht Club, who have been involved in the property since the 1970’s, demolished the remaining structures and reimagined what the property could become. After nearly three years of planning, the renaissance of BEYC is gaining momentum with the construction of phase one comprising the nautical village. With thirteen timber structures under various stages of construction, the village will comprise a two-storey yacht club lounge complemented by upgraded docks together with The Clubhouse, comprising a multi-concept seaside restaurant and beach bar. The Bitter End Market and Reeftique will provide extensive provisioning for visiting sailors and a retail outlet for the BEYC’s branded goods. With a preliminary opening date of March 2021 for this first phase, the owners are drawing on local consultants, contractors and suppliers to help them achieve this goal in an environmentally sustainable manner which includes the upcycling of materials salvaged from the aftermath of Irma. Situated adjacent to Bitter End, Saba Rock Resort is close to completing a multi-million dollar rebuild with plans to reopen by April 2021. Surrounded by water, Saba Rock provides visiting tourists with a unique experience of a resort, bar and restaurant on a small island at the heart of North Sound. Learning from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irma, the rebuilt property has benefitted from engineering suitable to withstand a major hurricane, despite the proximity to the sea. Much of the success of the North Sound area prior to Irma was due to two major developments at Oil Nut Bay and Moskito Island which together have contributed millions of dollars to the economy in direct taxes (stamp duty, payroll and customs duties) and employment particularly in the construction sector. At a time when the rest of the Caribbean was reeling from the economic downturn following the 2008 financial crisis, North Sound emerged as a leading tourist destination, with both developments setting new design and development standards in the BVI and regionally.

If there is a positive, it was that the lockdown in the BVI occurred near the end of the high season in late March, allowing resorts, villas and charter companies to operate for the better part of the high season. With tourists not permitted to arrive in the BVI since March, there has been a small, but active, internal tourist market which picked up particularly in July and August as many residents chose to staycation around the BVI.

With over $500M of owner investment into Oil Nut Bay Resort to date, this residential resort development has provided much needed employment to Virgin Gorda and the BVI for more than the last ten years. Oil Nut Bay is now a leading regional resort with all the major infrastructure components completed. Forty villas have already completed and a further fifteen homes are under construction with a contract value of approximately $80M. The guest areas in the main resort now include the Pavilion exclusive area for in-house guests with hot tub, fire pit and Asian fusion restaurant. In 2019, the marina village opened with Nova Restaurant, and at the end of that year, work commenced on the Marina Villas with three already sold plus one pre-sale with construction due to commence on the remainder of the villas. The expansion of the marina village facilities is also about to commence, adding a day spa and water sports centre on the nearby beach. It is a testament to the success of Oil Nut Bay that it has managed to achieve over $20M in sales since the start of the pandemic in March.

In some respects, the impact of Hurricane Irma and the subsequent need to rebuild has lessened some of the impact on the BVI from the pandemic as many resorts which would have been operating are still closed or rebuilding. This includes Long Bay Beach Resort, Peter Island, Biras Creek Resort, Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock. However, for other resorts, the loss of tourism has been substantial, resulting in staff layoffs and continued uncertainty.

At the western entrance to North Sound lies Moskito Island which is now home to some of the most exclusive villas in the Caribbean. Developed as a private island residential retreat, this sub-division of ten sites, complete with resort areas for the exclusive use of villa owners, has set the bar for exclusive Caribbean living. Following completion of the Branson Estate in 2015, two further villas completed construction in 2019 and were handed over to owners with a further three to have

2017

2018

2019

2020

Source: Central Statistics Office: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

Chart 1 shows the moving average of cruise ship and overnight (land based and charter yacht) visitors to the BVI since 2016. The impact of Hurricane Irma in September 2017 led to a substantial reduction in visitors followed by a gradual upward trend marking the recovery.

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The North Sound area of Virgin Gorda, home to many of the BVI’s leading resorts and developments, is in the process of rejuvenation, as work on Bitter End Yacht Club commenced in the summer of 2020 and with Saba Rock Resort due to reopen in April 2021. These two developments will help drive tourism back to North Sound providing much needed amenities and facilities to visiting yachts and tourists.

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Real Estate

completed at the end of 2020. Construction should also break ground on one more site prior to the end of the year. Moskito island has provided substantial employment to the construction industry during the construction phase and with three more sites still to be built out, these jobs will be secured for a number of years. The development is now ramping up the operational side as owners and guests start to enjoy the common facilities, providing additional jobs at a time when the pandemic has impacted many other businesses. In July 2020, the BVI Government signed a development agreement with the owners of Biras Creek to rebuild the hotel that was closed in 2016 and damaged by Hurricane Irma a year later. Biras sits at the head of North Sound and for many years was one of the BVI’s leading resorts. The owners are now looking to rebuild the resort with plans to complete the construction of nine new hotel rooms and a marina, which will include an 80 meter super yacht dock, together with guest facilities which will include a restaurant and beach club, retail outlets and a provisioning store. The owners plan to have the resort operational by November 2021. After nearly four years of rebuilding (including repair after Irma), the fully refurbished Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort opened at the start of January 2020 with a reduced, but upgraded, room inventory of 80 units spread across a range of guestrooms, suites and villas. The resort now offers four different dining options with the addition of the new signature restaurant “Reef House” which sources locally farmed ingredients, in addition to the iconic Pavilion restaurant plus the Sugar Mill and the Rum Room. For health and wellbeing, the picturesque cliff top spa has been completely refurbished, a new fitness centre has been added and the six tennis courts have been rebuilt. The resort was able to operate for ten weeks before having to close its doors on 24 March, although guest reaction to the changes was extremely positive. Rosewood Little Dix Bay has retained a significant number of its employees for the duration of the closure to date, recognizing that it will have to ramp up operations extremely quickly once borders reopen, a feat that would be difficult if staff had to be rehired and trained. The period of closure has allowed the resort to prepare for a new way of operating, for the safety of guests and employees alike being a high priority. Some of the trends Rosewood Little Dix Bay is anticipating are longer guest stays and the requirement for larger accommodations. Interest in the residential units has increased as a result of the pandemic which has led to new villa construction and changes in villa ownership.

Elsewhere in the BVI, Trellis Bay has seen the welcome addition of a new bar and restaurant with the opening of the Loose Mongoose, a complete redevelopment of the old beach bar and restaurant. With thatched roof and open plan dining and bar area extending along the beach, there is also a boutique, coffee shop and a rum bar plus two substantial docks. The Loose Mongoose acts as a base for many of the outer island resorts who require docking space in Trellis Bay and an area for guests to relax before catching a boat to the outer islands. Nanny Cay Resort and Marina has continued to upgrade the property, opening a new access road to avoid traffic passing through the boat yard. While the pandemic has impacted many of the tourist related businesses operating at Nanny Cay, the owners have continued with the redevelopment of the hotel block which they expect will reopen in May 2021 which will complete over $10M in investment in the resort in recent years. Future plans include improvements to the boatyard, including refurbishment of some of the buildings to increase the level of service for the operation as a whole. Plans for the redevelopment of Long Bay Beach Resort on Tortola have been scaled back due to the restrictions on travel and construction, resulting from the pandemic. Demolition of the old hotel rooms commenced in July 2020. The first phase will include the renovation of the twenty remaining beachfront rooms and the 1748 restaurant and bar, which is now open. Further development will depend on the scheduled reopening of the BVI to tourists and the lifting of travel restrictions. Scrub Island Resort, Spa and Marina has used the closure of the BVI to tourism to enhance its guest experience programme in preparation for its planned reopening. Scrub Island has also completed the construction of two new villas, the four-bedroom Drake House and the largest villa on the island, the six-bedroom Spinnaker House. Like many of the resorts with real estate programmes, Scrub Island has continued to experience interest in its real estate product, resulting in a contract on one of the marina condominium units and also interest in the larger residential lots on the island. For the resort, future bookings indicate pent up demand, as tourists seek low density destinations and resorts that are capable of safely delivering socially distanced vacations. This demand has been boosted by the August publication of the Sports Illustrated 2020 edition which was hosted on Scrub Island in January 2020.

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BVI real estate market overview

Considering the disruptions to the real estate market experienced in 2017 with Hurricane Irma and again in 2020 with the pandemic, the BVI real estate market has so far shown itself to be remarkably resilient. After the 2008 recession, the BVI property market struggled to gain momentum for a number of years with limited external investment resulting in typically twenty villa sales a year over $500,000 in value. Most of the villa sales were under $1.0M and few villas sold in excess of $3.0M. As the number of external investors reduced, the market started to see a higher percentage of Belongers acquiring villas as vendors became more willing to negotiate at lower prices. All that changed at the end of 2017 when Hurricane Irma destroyed or severely damaged much of the housing stock in the BVI. Far from reducing property sales, the damage caused by Irma created opportunities for mainly locally based investors, who were able to acquire damaged property from vendors motivated to exit. This led to an increase in the number of home sales, albeit at generally lower values reflecting the damaged nature of the properties being sold. At the same time, the market for land continued to grow as local investors bought into newly created sub-divisions mainly situated on Tortola. While there were positive signs that overseas investment in the BVI property market was picking up towards the end of 2019 and the early part of 2020, the closure of the BVI borders in March to tourists, prevented overseas purchasers from visiting the British Virgin Islands to view property. Despite that, the isolated nature of the Caribbean Islands has appealed to the sense of security that many investors are seeking, and international enquiries for property in the BVI has remained strong.

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BVI residential sales 2018-2020 Land & homes ($M) $25.00

2018

2018

Home

2019

2019

Land

2020

$20.00

Sales volume ($)

C

Reviewing the property market between 2018 and 2020 (to September), the patterns of investment that emerge, demonstrate both the activity within the local (Belonger) market and the importance of overseas investment to the real estate market as a whole and including the significant stamp duty that it generates for the Government. The decision by Government to suspend stamp duty payments for Belongers purchasing property until May 2021 and the National Bank offering 100% financing to Belongers acquiring land has also added impetus to property transactions within the local market.

$15.00

$10.00

$5.00

$0

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

Chart 2 compiles the data for all residential property transactions in the BVI between 2018 and September 2020, divided between land and houses. In total, there was $168M of residential property sold with houses accounting for $98M (58%) and land for $70M (42%). Land sales have been evenly spread in total value between 2018 and 2020 ranging between $26.5M total value in 2018 to $20.75M in 2019. There have been $22.46M in land sales through September 2020. The total value of house sales has increased by 26% between 2018 ($29.79M) and 2020 ($37.42M to September). House sales in 2019 totaled $30.95M.


Real Estate

Map 1 identifies the distribution of sales of land and houses around the British Virgin Islands between 2018 and September 2020. While there is a predominance of land sales over this period, overall there has been a fairly even geographical spread of residential property sales in the BVI.

Residential sales in the BVI 2018-2020 (September) House sales Land sales

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

BVI residential sales 2018-2020 Belonger

Belonger & non-belonger purchasers ($M)

Sales volume ($)

$25.00

2018

2019

Non-belonger

2020

$20.00

$15.00

$10.00

$5.00

$0

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

Residential sales in the BVI 2018-2020 (September) Sales to belongers Sales to non-belongers

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

Utilising the same residential data set, we have also looked at how the sale of residential property has been divided between Belongers and NonBelongers, with the data being presented in Chart 3. The distribution in total sale value is evenly spread with Belongers purchasing $88.5M in residential real estate over this time period in 452 transactions and Non-Belongers purchasing $79.3M in residential real estate in 78 transactions. We do see a slight reduction in acquisitions by Belongers between 2018 and 2020, reflecting the initial flurry of activity amongst Belonger investors to acquire property in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma with Belongers purchasing $33.7M in residential real estate in 2018, reducing to $26.6M in 2019. There was an increase in residential property investment by Belongers in 2020 with a total spend of $28.3M by the end of September. In contrast, we see expenditure by Non-Belongers steadily increasing over this time period by 40%, reflecting the slow return to the market by external investors post Hurricane Irma. Sales to Non-Belonger investors totaled $22.57M in 2018, increasing to $25.2M in 2019. There was a total of $31.5M investment by Non-Belongers in residential real estate to September 2020. Map 2 illustrates the geographical spread of all residential property purchases in the BVI (land and homes) between Belongers and NonBelongers from 2018 to September 2020. This map demonstrates the importance of resort locations for external investors with Belmont, Nanny Cay, Trunk Bay, Scrub Island, Little Dix Bay, Trunk Bay, Little Dix Bay, Moskito Island, Leverick Bay and Oil Nut Bay all featuring sales to Non-Belongers. The overall impact of the map, however, is to demonstrate how Belonger investors in residential property have dominated the real estate market in the post Hurricane Irma era. The acquisition of property is fairly evenly spread throughout Tortola although in Virgin Gorda there is a concentration of sales in The Valley and some sales in sub-divisions above Gun Creek/Leverick Bay overlooking North Sound. While the increase in investment by Belongers in the real estate market since Hurricane Irma is a welcome trend that returns land in the BVI to local ownership, the importance of external investment to the real estate market, and the finances of the BVI through stamp duty revenues, cannot be underestimated.

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BVI residential sales 2018-2020: market share

BVI residential sales 2018-2020: market share Belonger

Belonger & non-belonger purchasers

Non-belonger

Oil Nut Bay, Little Dix Bay, Moskito Island

Luxury estate vs. the rest of the market

Rest of market

3% 15%

47%

85%

33%

97%

53% By value of sales

By number of sales

67% By value of sales

By number of sales

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

Chart 4 shows that while sales of residential property to Belongers accounted for 85% of all real estate transactions between 2018 and September 2020, these sales account for only 47% of the total value. This primarily reflects the activity of Belongers in the land market, where they account for 92% of all land sales compared to NonBelongers who are predominantly active in the villa market.

Chart 5 shows the impact of these developments on property sales in the BVI where between them, sales on Oil Nut Bay, Moskito Island and Little Dix Bay account for just 3% of all property transactions, but 33% of total sales value ($55.7M). Given that purchasers investing in these developments are predominantly Non-Belongers, this generates significant income to the Government. In round terms, Non-Belongers in these developments have contributed to 27% of total residential sales ($46M) which should have generated stamp duty in excess of $5.5M to the government. This compares to stamp duty of $3.54M generated by sales to Belongers and $3.99M for all other Non-Belonger residential sales.

Total sales values ($M) from property sales in the BVI have been driven disproportionately by sales on the major resort and residential developments on Virgin Gorda which comprise Oil Nut Bay, Moskito Island and Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort. Selling predominantly to Non-Belonger investors, these developments provide a higher level of amenities than the typical development or sub-division, which is reflected in significantly higher land or property values within these developments.

Looking at the home sales over $500,000 since 2018, this has been a market divided between the sale of damaged homes in the eighteen months or so post Hurricane Irma and the gradual return to more normalized market conditions for the past twelve months.

BVI residential sales 2018-2020 Total sales volume ($M) & count of sales

Sales volume ($)

$15.00

2018

2019

Average sale price ($M)

2020

$2.00 $1.75 $1.50

$10.00

$1.25 $1.00 $0.75

$5.00

Average sales price ($)

Belonger & non-belonger purchasers ($M)

$0.50 $0.25 $0.00

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

$0.00

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

Chart 6 summarises home sales since 2018 with a total of sixty homes being sold up to September 2020. The average sale value of homes generally fell through 2018, reflecting the sale of damaged homes at lower values. Although the average price spiked in Q1 2019 due to a single home sale at $7.125M, the trend from Q3 2019 to Q3 2020 has shown a rising average house price as the residential home market moved away from the sale of damaged homes and back to more normal trading conditions of undamaged or repaired homes. In terms of total sales volume ($M), there has been a steady increase in the volume of transactions over the period with total sales of $18.81M in 2018 through 19 sales, $20.69M in 2019 (including a single home sold for $7.125M at Oil Nut Bay) through 19 sales and $26.54M to September 2020 through 22 sales. Again, this upwards trend in total sales volume reflects the changing market as the sale of damaged homes was replaced by the sale of mainly undamaged homes by late 2019 and 2020.

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Real Estate

BVI residential sales 2018-2020 $0.5-$1.0M

Belonger & non-belonger purchasers ($M)

$1.0-$2.0

$2.0-$3.0

>$3.0

20

2018 Number of sales in price band

Chart 7 shows the breakdown of the sixty home sales by price band by year. This graph illustrates the same trend, with the market in 2018 dominated by home sales between $500,000 and $1.0M, only five home sales in the price band between $1.0M and $2.0M and one sale above $3.0M. A similar pattern was evident in 2019, and again there was a single sale of a home in the $3.0M+ price range. However, by 2020, there has been a spread of home sales between the price bands, with 7 home sales between $1.0M and $2.0M and one each between $2M to $3M and over $3M.

2019

2020

15

10

5

0 Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q1

Q2

Q3

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

Map 3 shows the geographic spread of the sixty home sales over $500,000 between 2018 and September 2020 divided between sales to Belongers and Non-Belongers. The majority of the sales have occurred on Tortola followed by Virgin Gorda. There have also been villa sales on Great Camanoe, Scrub Island and Jost Van Dyke.

Home sales over $500,000 in the BVI 2018-2020 (September) Sales to Belongers Sales to non-belongers

Source: BVI Land Registry: Compiled by Smiths Gore Real Estate Research

2020 for most people has been a turbulent year, dominated by a pandemic virus which has caught politicians and scientists by surprise, leaving governments treading a fine line between re-opening the economy and trying to bring the second wave of infection back under control. There remains much uncertainty for the short term, vaccines are now just being administered. The main diversion to the pandemic was the US presidential election which was conducted alongside a resurgence of the Black Lives Matters movement and protests in the States between left and right wing ideologies.

Just as with other countries, the BVI is having to grapple with the same issue of opening the Territory to tourism and the measures needed to be in place to protect the population. The politicians, having announced their protocols to the local population and visitors alike, have had to simplify those protocols for persons wishing to visit, in light of many cancelled bookings since the protocols were first announced. Time is not on the Government’s side with what has been a very limited booking through the Terrance B. Lettsome Airport and the opening of the more travelled seaports pushed back yet again, now to 15 April 2021. With the winter season now almost behind us, uncertainty remains for many tourist related businesses. While the real estate market has proven to be remarkably resilient post Hurricane Irma, a healthy economy is an essential part of the success of the real estate market. The next six months will be critical to the future of the BVI.

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Checks and balances - US election postscript

L

Looking back, 2016 was an auspicious year for voting, with both Brexit and the US presidential election ending in surprise results. The Brexit referendum in June of that year returned a slim majority in favour of leaving the EU, resulting in four tumultuous years for the UK (and by extension Europe) as politicians and the public grappled with the complexities of exiting their uneasy relationship with their European neighbours. As 2020 drew to a close, the final hurdles of negotiating a trade deal with the EU remained to be crossed, but with a ‘no deal’ exit seemingly less of a threat. With both the UK and Europe facing a serious COVID-19 second wave and forced into regional and national lockdowns, it seems as if the negotiations will go down to the wire before an acceptable compromise is reached.

The UK’s position has been complicated as a result of the November 3 election in the United States, where the change in administration in January 2021 heralded a new president with sharply different policies and Irish roots, who has already stated that any threat to the Good Friday agreement will impact the UK’s ability to reach a trade agreement with the USA. The November election, which saw the election of Joe Biden, was the culmination of four years of the Trump Administration, following the other electoral surprise of 2016 when Donald Trump emerged victorious against then favourite, Hilary Clinton. The fact that President Trump never conceded the election to President Joe Biden, serves as a post script to an unorthodox presidency, where fake news and firing by Twitter became as much a part of the White House as foreign and domestic policy. The fact that over 70 million Americans voted for President Trump in 2020 reflects the huge appeal he still has to his base and the continued importance that he has in setting the agenda for the Republican party going forward. While controlling both the House of Representatives and Senate is political Nirvanah for any president, allowing them to push through their agenda with little opposition, the markets generally prefer the “stability” of a divided Congress, where a break can be applied to

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any president looking to push an agenda considered too radical for mainstream politics. Each of the last four presidents were elected with majorities in both House and Senate, but lost control of one chamber at the mid-term elections, preventing them from effectively continuing their agendas and pushing the Government towards gridlock. The checks and balances set up by the Founding Fathers have practical consequences well beyond those they first envisaged. The markets continue to rally since the election, boosted by news of three COVID-19 vaccines which have shown in testing to be effective against the virus. While it will still take time for vaccination programmes to be fully implemented, an end game could be in sight, even if it is still months away. Confidence in the stock market, combined with continued low interest rates, will have a corresponding knock on in real estate investment, which has already demonstrated real growth despite the pandemic setbacks. The US economy is not out of the woods though, with Biden and the Democratic Leadership in both Houses of Congress having decided to use the budget reconciliation process to pass what is currently a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, which has strong bipartisan support among the public. There is light at the end of the tunnel for the economic downturn driven by the pandemic. With the Biden administration well into its second month in office, the near term outlook for the BVI remains positive on two fronts. First, the recent announcements regarding vaccines will enable the Government of the BVI and businesses to work towards normalcy with a more definitive timetable of six to nine months. Second, there is hope that economic growth will continue as confidence deepens and markets remain buoyant. Positive economic growth in the US normally promotes similar confidence in the Caribbean. While significant shortterm concerns remain for the tourism industry, definitely, there is hope on the horizon. Roll on 2021. | BB


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PATLIAN JOHNSON

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Business BVI Guides

Location

Government

AREA

CAPITAL

COORDINATES

TIME ZONE

57.08 mi2

Road Town

18*30’N 64*30’W

Atlantic Standard Time

T

he British Virgin Islands a group of small islands and cays, located a few miles east of the US Virgin Islands and about 95 km (59 miles) east of Puerto Rico. It is part of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. The North Atlantic Ocean lies to the east of the islands, and the Caribbean Sea lies to the west.

T

he BVI is self-governing overseas Territory of the United Kingdom with the Queen as the Head of State represented locally by the Governor. The Governor is responsible for external affairs, defence and internal security, the Public Service and administration of the Courts. The ministerial system of government is led by an elected Premier, a Cabinet of Ministers and the House of Assembly. The Cabinet consists of the Premier, four other Ministers and Attorney General as an ex officio member. The Cabinet is responsible for formulating and implementing policy. The House of Assembly consists of 13 elected members of which nine are tied to electoral districts and four “at large” seats.

Tortola where the main airport and the capital Road Town are located is the largest island. Other main islands include Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, which can be accessed from Tortola by ferry, private boat and airplane (no ar service to Jost Van Dyke). There are two main ways to get to the British Virgin Islands. The first is to fly directly to Beef Island Airport on Tortola (daily flights from Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands). The second is to fly to Cyril E. King airport in St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands (with direct connections from the mainland United States) and then take the ferry to Tortola. There are other connections from North America and Europe via regional and local airlines out of St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbados.

Legal System

The BVI has an independent legal and judicial system based on a combination of English Common Law and local statutes, orders and civil procedure rules. Lower level disputes and petty crimes are resolved in the Magistrates’ Court. More serious matters are dealt with in the Supreme Court (officially known as the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of which the BVI is a member state). Appeals from the Supreme Court lie to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and the final appeal lies to the Privy Council.

Geography and Climate

TEMPERATURE (Average)

HIGHEST POINT

RAINFALL (Average annual)

28*C / 82*F

Mt. Sage (1,709 ft ASL)

43 in/1,105mm

The British Virgin Islands, comprising of around 60 islands of hilly and rugged terrain, of volcanic origin, with the exception of Anegada which is flat and composed of limestone and coral. The highest point is Mount Sage at 521 metres (1,709 ft) above sea level located on Tortola. The Territory has a tropical climate, with year round trade winds and average temperatures of about 28°C. Rainfall averages about 1,105 mm (43 in) per year, with the wettest months on average September to November and the driest months on average are February and March. The islands are in the hurricane belt, with the season running from June to November, usually peaking in August, September, and October.

COVID-19

The British Virgin Islands hosts the Commercial Court of the East Caribbean Supreme Court which serves the expanding needs of commercial litigation in the Territory and the Eastern Caribbean. The court officially opened on 30th October, 2009 (although it was in operation since May 2009) and specialises exclusively in domestic and cross-border commercial and insolvency matters. It hears such matters from nine Caribbean nations and territories, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent, St Lucia and the BVI. The BVI is a centre for the resolution of domestic and international disputes. The British Virgin Islands’ Arbitration Act 2013 came into force on October 1st, 2014 making provisions for a modern arbitration centre. The BVI International Arbitration Centre provides neutral, efficient and reliable dispute resolution services. The state-of-the-art facilities offers a variety rooms for hearings and meetings, video and audio conferencing, interpretation and translation services and concierge services.

Society

POPULATION (2019)

EMPLOYED PERSONS (2019)

MINIMUM WAGE

30,030

21,088

$6 per hour

Population and Labour Force Like most parts of the world the BVI has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an attempt to curb the spread of the deadly virus within the Territory, the Government acted swiftly after the World Health Organisation announced a pandemic on 14 March, by closing the external borders, implementing a ban of cruise arrivals and applying a series of curfews and lockdowns throughout the year as local infections spiked. These measures availed the BVI from a health crisis with unmanageable numbers of infected persons. To date (1 March) the total number of positive cases detected was 153 with total recoveries of 131, 22 active cases and 1 death. The external borders have been gradually re-opened to returning residents and now visitors, subject to re-opening Protocols (see Tourism Section). The crisis continues to negatively impact the BVI economy. The initial border closures translated to no tourists over an 8-month period (April -November) and lockdowns and curfews severely impacted domestic commerce and economic activity. The fall in tourism expenditure and revenue, closure of hotels, grounding of charter yachts, rising unemployment, reduced activity in other sectors such as wholesale and retail, real estate, transportation and construction and increased public expenditure on health and social assistance programmes are all consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

The population of the British Virgin Islands is estimated at over 30,000 residents. The majority of persons are of Afro-Caribbean decent. Minority ethnicities include Caucasians, East Indians, Middle Eastern, and Asian. An estimated 100+ nationalities are represented in the territory. The major force driving population growth has been immigration mainly to meet the shortage in local labour supply. Approximately 70 percent of the employed are foreigners and the Government sector is the major employer followed by the tourism industry, the financial services sector and the construction sector. Labour relations in the BVI are governed by the Labour Code, 2010. This comprehensive piece of legislation provides for the framework for the settlement of disputes, health and welfare in the workplace, basic conditions of employment including pay, overtime, vacation and sick leave, benefits including the requirement retirement benefits. It also sets out the requirements for foreigner employment under the work permit regime. Social Security is a compulsory insurance plan to which employers, employees, selfemployed and voluntary contributors contribute. Benefits are paid out when certain contingencies arise including sickness, maternity, and employment injury. An age benefit is paid out from 65 once the minimum contributions have been made (10 years). Trade unions are virtually non-existent and workdays lost through industrial action are infrequent. The government has set a minimum wage of $6 per hour.

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Economy

2021 Public Holidays New Year’s Day

Friday, 1st January

Anniversary of H. Lavity Stoutt’s Birthday

Monday, 1st March

Good Friday

Friday, 2nd April

Easter Monday

Monday, 5th April

Whit Monday

Monday, 24th May

Sovereign’s Birthday

Friday, 11th June

Virgin Islands Day

Monday, 5th July

Emancipation Monday

Monday, 2nd August

Emancipation Tuesday

Tuesday, 3rd August

Emancipation Wednesday

Wednesday, 4th August

Heroes’ and Forefathers Day

Monday, 18th October

Commemoration of the Great March of 1949 and Restoration of the Legislative Council (TBD)

Monday, 8th November

Christmas Day

Monday, 27th December

Boxing Day

Tuesday, 28th December

MAIN INDUSTRIES TOURIST ARRIVALS* ACTIVE COMPANIES* GDP GROWTH INFLATION* CURRENCY

Tourism and 894,911 387,344 Financial Services

US$ 1.2 billion (2.2%)

1.4%

US Dollar

Source: Central Statistics Office, Macro Fiscal Unit and Financial Services Commission *2019 estimates

The BVI economy is based on two distinct economic pillars, namely Tourism and Financial Services. Growth in the tourism and the financial services industries has resulted in expansion of the construction sector, both private (residential and commercial) and public, the real estate sector (residential and commercial) and the wholesale and retail sectors. For the majority of the past decade, economic growth has been positive and the BVI’s economy is one of the strongest in the Caribbean. The BVI’s principal trading partner is the United States. The majority of imports (goods) originate from the United States including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Similarly, the vast majority of BVI exports (in the form of services - specifically financial services and tourism) are used by United States consumers. The BVI is not a major exporter of goods.

MAJOR SECTORS

Education Tourism At A Glance

Tourist Arrivals 2016 - 2019 (estimates) Publicly provided education is free at the primary, secondary and now territory levels thereby facilitating access to all children. Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 and the Education Act, 2004 regulates all aspects of the Territory’s education system including Early Childhood Education. The Government’s Ministry of Education operates 17 primary schools and four secondary schools, including a technical-vocational school and a school for disabled students. There are also several private primary and secondary schools; some parochial and some secular. The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) is a two-year tertiary institution offering associate degrees in the areas of business, natural science, social services, hospitality, computer studies, marine studies and financial services. Through affiliations with other tertiary institutions HLSCC also offers degree and master’s programmes in various disciplines. The College also offers specialty courses based on the needs of the local labour market.

Health

Currently, primary health care is provided by Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital (formally the Peebles Hospital) and community health centres/clinics on Tortola and the outer islands – Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Access to full treatment at Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital from the outer islands can also be achieved when required via helicopter or ferry evacuation. The new facilities of the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital opened at the end of 2014 is a state-of-the-art facility which offers apart from emergency care, haemodialysis, medical imaging, physiotherapy and laboratory services. Additional medical services such as specialty treatments in dermatology, orthopaedics, plastic surgery, chiropractic care and dentistry are provided by a small private hospital and several private medical clinics. Patients requiring treatment services beyond the scope of the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital are referred to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Barbados and mainland United States. The BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) established under the BVI Health Services Authority Act, 2004 is responsible for managing the public health care service throughout the Territory including the general administration and functioning of the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital and the recruitment and training of health care professionals. In September 2020, The BVIHSA achieved full accreditation with the accrediting body DNV-GL (Det Norske Veritas (Norway) and Germanischer Lloyd (Germany)). The contributory National Health Insurance (NHI) Scheme provides universal affordable health care to all BVI residents.

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Source: Central Statistics Office Overnight Excursionist (cruise ship and day trippers)

716,616 592,492

421,503 407,764

334,315

2016

2017

216,660 193,312 2018

302,499 2019

Tourism With its crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches, breath-taking scenery, intricate coral formations, tranquil atmosphere and warm people, the BVI is a popular destination for sports enthusiasts as well as those who want a peaceful vacation. The largest island, Tortola is the major hub for most visitors and the starting point for discovering the other islands. Major attractions include the nature trails at Sage Mountain National Park, the huge boulders at the Baths, the pristine waters of White Bay, the wreck of the Rhone and the flamingos at Nutmeg Point. Yearly scheduled activities, which attract numerous visitors include: the BVI Spring Regatta in April, the Emancipation Festival in August, the Anegada Lobster Festival in November. Sailing is one of the most popular activities for tourists. The year-round trade winds and numerous islands, inlets and cays has given the BVI the title of the ‘sailing capital of the world’. Other water sports such as scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, kite boarding, paddle boarding and kayaking are also extremely popular. The BVI is also a popular port of call for major cruise ships. The Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park (formally the Tortola Pier Park) opened in 2016 can accommodate larger cruise ships and the landside development includes shops (international brands and local treasures), restaurants and entertainment. The Government and private sector continue to rebuild and upgrade tourist attractions and infrastructure, post Hurricane Irma in 2017. Other infrastructural developments expected in the near future include upgrades to the T.B Lettsome International Airport and various ports of entry throughout the BVI. Tourist arrival numbers were approaching pre-2017 levels at the end of 2019 with expectations for this upward trend to continue into 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in tourism numbers plummeting, following a strong January and February 2020 performance. Final tourism arrival figures for 2020 are expected to be less than half of 2019. The Territory officially re-opened its borders to tourists on 1 December 2020 with restricted access through T.B Lettsome International Airport. Seaports accommodating international traffic are scheduled to open 15 April 2021.


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Re-opening Protocols for Visitors

Financial Services At A Glance Incorporations

Source: BVI Financial Services Commission

The Financial Investigation Agency (FIA), which was launched in 2004 functions as a specialist investigative law enforcement arm of the government, with the objective of curbing financial crime. Its primary focus is to investigate the BVI financial services industry and support the Virgin Islands mutual legal assistance regimes.

Incorporations (cummulative active)

Pre-arrival requirements: • Certified negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test result 5 days prior to arrival

Incorporations (annual)

• Travel insurance - with medical coverage to include COVID-19 • “BVI Gateway Traveller Authorisation Certificate” 7 days prior to travel (recommended) but within 48 hours prior to travel

100,000 Incorporations (annual)

200,000

300,000

Incorporations (cummulative active)

2019

387,344

26,150

2018

402,907

37,415

FINANCIAL SERVICES

400,000

2018

2019

7

7

(apply at www.bvigateway.bviaa. com)

• Children under the age of five will not require testing Arrival requirements: • Download and activate mobile phone tracking system on personal phone • Wear wristband monitoring device • Arrival day/day 0 mandatory COVID-19 test - If result is negative visitor transported to approved accommodation - If result is positive visitor 14 day mandatory quarantine BVI Stay Requirements: • Mandatory four day quarantine at approved hotel, resort, villa or vessel • RT-PCR test on day 4 - If result is negative, freedom of movement throughout the BVI is allowed adhering to safety and social distancing measures - If result is positive mandatory quarantine for at least an additional 10 days at visitor expense • Transportation to accommodation on day 0 and to and from testing centres must be using government approved transportation Costs: A $175 fee for each passenger covering: • RT-PCR test on day 0 and day 4 • Tracking bracelet rental • Mobile app • Other ancillary costs More information: WhatsApp: 284-496-6129 Email: reopening@bvitourism.com or bvigateway@bviaa.com Source: BVI Tourist Board

Marketing and promotion of the products and services of the financial services sector is conducted by BVI Finance (formerly the International Finance Centre)

Banking and Fiduciary Banking (general and restricted) Trust (general) Class I, II & III

100

107

Trust (restricted)

54

134

Company Managers

17

18

Money Services/Financing Business

4

4

Captive Insurance

73

59

Domestic Insurance

39

39

Insurance Managers

10

7

Professional

955

920

Private

329

319

Public

44

33

Foreign

6

6

Incubator

66

79

Approved

98

122

27

28

Insurance

Mutual Funds (active)

The BVI London Office and the BVI Asia House in Hong Kong were commissioned to establish a presence in Europe and Asia to take advantage of economic opportunities not limited to financial services and tourism.

Business Companies The BVI is one of the largest centres for the incorporation of business companies with around 1 million companies incorporated since the enactment of the International Business Companies (IBC) Act in 1984. Over 380,000 are still active as of end of 2019. Because of the flexibility of its use, BVI business companies have been used in a plethora of business transactions and structures, including structured finance and securitisation, succession planning, IPOs and listings on stock exchanges and joint ventures etc. The incorporation regime has changed somewhat with the introduction of new company legislation – the BVI Business Companies Act, 2004 which replaced the IBC Act repealed on January 1 2007. The core features of the IBC Act, which made it a success remain, along with improvements to ensure the longevity of the Virgin Island’s market share. The new Act for instance, widens the range of corporate vehicles available for use, simplifies the statement of capital and the registration of charges. Effective January 2018, the incorporation fee and annual fee payable to maintain a standard company authorised to issue up to 50,000 shares, increased from US$350 to US$450, and for a company authorised to issue more than 50,000 shares, from US$1,100 to US$1,200.

Insolvency Practitioners

Insurance (Captive)

Financial Services The growth of the financial services sector in the BVI was mainly due to the success of the International Business Company (IBC) (now known as the BVI Business Company subsequent to the enactment of new incorporation legislation – BVI Business Company Act, 2004) first unveiled 30 years ago in 1984. In later years the BVI secured business that was redirected from Panama during the Noriega regime and from Hong Kong, when it was handed back to China in 1997. The Asian market thus accounts for a large portion of company incorporations in the BVI. Modern and innovative legislation, a robust regulatory framework, strategic marketing, economic and political stability, quality technology and communication facilities and a full range of legal, banking and account services have contributed significantly to the continued growth of incorporations. Closely related sectors such as captive insurance, investment business (mutual funds), trust and estate formation, company management, corporate restructuring, securitisation, insolvency and shipping and trademarks have developed. The industry is regulated by the Financial Services Commission (FSC), which is an autonomous body responsible for the licensing, regulation, supervision and inspection of all financial services business.

The BVI captive insurance market is one of the fastest growing and largest in the world, with the majority of business originating from the United States. Other countries of origin include Guernsey, Taiwan, Switzerland, the Middle East and South America. In addition to this excellent geographic spread of business, there also has been a significant distribution of captives from an industry segment standpoint. The captives cover the following industries: finance and insurance, construction, health care and retail trade. The domestic insurance market is, however, smaller in comparison. The new Insurance Act, 2008, which replaced the 1994, provides a modern structure for licensing, supervision and administration of insurance business in the Virgin Islands while simultaneously meeting international insurance standards. The Insurance Regulations 2009, which replaced the 1995 regulations, provides clarity on details relating to insurance business in and from within the BVI. Both came into force on February 1st, 2010. More recently the Insurance (Amendment) Act and Regulations 2015 provide greater flexibility for captive insurers with the introduction of two new categories for captive licences.

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Investment Business

Financing and Money Services

Other Developments Financial Services

The BVI is one of the premier jurisdictions for fund domiciliation and is now regulated by the Securities and Investment Business Act (SIBA) and Regulations, which came into force on 17th May, 2010, replacing the Mutual Funds Act 1996 (as amended 1997). SIBA sets out the new legislative framework under which the Financial Services Commission (FSC) regulates individuals, mutual funds and other investment related entities conducting business in and from within the BVI. Persons such as investment advisers, those dealing in investments or arranging dealings in investments, managers, custodians, those providing administration services with respect to investments, and operators of investment exchanges are now required to be licensed. SIBA introduces the authorised representative regime where all BVI funds are required to appoint an authorised representative resident in the BVI and licensed by the FSC. SIBA also provides a framework for dealing with insider trading and market abuses.

Financing and money services businesses also fall under the regulatory remit of the FSC. The Financing and Money Services Act (2009) sets up the licensing and regulatory framework governing local businesses in the BVI conducting consumer financing, lending, and money payments and transfers. Subsequent legislative amendments in 2018 broaden the reach of the regime by expanding the range of licenses offered and including for more sophisticated financing arrangements, utilising FinTech.

Economic Substance Requirement

The BVI continues to update its regulatory regime to meet the needs of stakeholders. The Approved Managers Regime came into force at the end of 2012 and creates a new regulatory environment for fund managers, by reducing the regulatory burden under SIBA. The SIBA (Amendment), 2012 facilitates the new regulations for the Approved Managers Regime. The most recent amendment to SIBA in 2019 and the corresponding regulations, provide for the recognition and regulation of closed-ended funds by way of the Private Investment Fund. The new regime came into force on 31 December 2019. Additionally, the FSC has created two new regulated fund categories – incubator fund and approved funds. They were created in order to provide more flexibility to smaller and start-up financial services businesses. Under the new fund categories, managers and principals of smaller, open-ended funds may be approved to conduct business within a lighter regulatory framework. The Securities and Investment Business (Incubator and Approved Funds) Regulations 2015 come into force on 1 June 2015.

Banking The Virgin Islands is characterised as a conservative banking jurisdiction. At the end of 2019 there were 7 banking institutions licensed to operate in and from within the BVI with total assets of approximately US$2.4 billion. The domestic market is serviced by the following commercial banks which offer a wide range of competitive services: Republic Bank BVI Limited formerly (Scotia Bank (BVI) Limited), First Caribbean International Bank, First Bank Virgin Islands, Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, VP Bank (BVI), the National Bank of the Virgin Islands and the Bank of Asia. The banking sector is regulated by the Financial Services Commission, under the Banking and Trust Companies Act, 1990 and subsequent amendments. In 2020 the Government instituted a levy on money services Class A licensees, that is those businesses providing money transmission services outside of the Virgin Islands (excluding banks). The 7% withholding tax applies to the gross amount being transmitted, as provided for in the Financial and Money Services (Amendment) Act (2020).

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Insolvency The Virgin Islands boasts a modern comprehensive insolvency regime that meets the needs of the growing incorporation, investment and financial services activities in the BVI. The governing legislation, the Insolvency Act 2003, makes provisions for the licensing and regulation of insolvency practitioners a wide range of liquidation and rehabilitation alternatives, a director’s disqualification regime and the establishment of an Official Receiver’s office.

Trust Management Trust Management forms a major component of financial services activity in the Virgin Islands. Revised legislation, together with the highly flexible BVI Business Company, has opened up wider markets for the BVI trust. Trusts are formed under the Trust Ordinance 1961 (based on the English Trustee Act 1925), as updated and amended by the Trustee Amendment Act 1993 and 2003. The amendment Acts considerably modernise and update the legislation, creating a more flexible regime for trusts. Changes include provisions to make trusts more attractive in a commercial context and a new set of conflict of law rules that contain robust, comprehensive, and carefully crafted provisions to protect BVI trusts against “forced heirship” claims. In addition, the rules surrounding trust duty have been updated to make it clear what documents are subject to trust duty and how this must be paid. At the same time, rules which require no public register of trusts are retained, thereby protecting confidentiality. The Virgin Islands Special Trusts Act, 2003 (VISTA) is another piece of legislation which updated the trust regime. VISTA trust, overcomes many problems associated with the “prudent man of business rule”, which typically made trusts unattractive vehicles to hold assets, which settlers intended trustees to retain. The Act enables a shareholder to establish a trust of his company, which disengages the trustee from management responsibility and permits the company and its business to be retained as long as the directors see fit.

The British Virgin Islands passed the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2018, which addresses the European Union’s concerns about entities in financial services jurisdictions like the BVI, over their ability to demonstrate “economic substance”. It came into force January 1, 2019. The Act outlines which entities need to comply and what are their obligations. Entities that conduct ‘relevant activities’ and ‘core income-generating activities’ are subject to the ‘economic substance’ requirements. Relevant activities include: Banking business; Insurance business; Shipping business; Fund management business; Finance and leasing business; Headquarters business; Holding business; Intellectual property business; and Distribution and Service Centre Business. Section 8 of the Act identifies further economic substance requirements. The Act also introduces additional reporting obligations to ascertain ongoing compliance. The BVI International Tax Authority (ITA) is the ‘competent authority’ under the Act and is responsible for enforcing the economic substance requirements. Entities must be able to show that they have an adequate level of employees and expenditure in the BVI and appropriate physical offices or premises for the core income generating activity. The Rules (and Explanatory Notes) on Economic Substance, which contain explicit information on how the economic substance requirements may be met and guidance on the interpretation of the legislation and the manner in which the ITA will carry out its obligations are now available. Additionally, the Economic Substance Portal went live on 12 June 2020 and facilitates the electronic filing of economic substance information by BVI registered agents on behalf of their clients. 1

Section 6, The British Virgin Islands passed the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2018 2

Section 7, The British Virgin Islands passed the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2018

Fintech – Regulatory Sandbox The BVI’s commitment to business innovation progressed with the passing of the Financial Services (Regulatory Sandbox) Regulations, 2020. This provides the licensing, operational and regulatory environment to support innovative FinTech business initiatives. The Sandbox provides 2 clear benefits: allows FinTech businesses to test their innovations for a defined time period while permitting the FSC to access possible legal and regulatory structures that may be needed to support new financial service products. On 31 August 2020 eligible businesses could apply to the FSC for admission to the sandbox regime.

Shipping As the sailing capital of the Caribbean and an esteemed corporate domicile, the Virgin Islands is also a popular jurisdiction for the registration of ships. As a Category One Register, within the Red Ensign Group, large vessels of unlimited tonnage and mega yachts

The majority of Virgin Island trusts are exempt from all taxes, provided there are no beneficiaries resident in the BVI, and that the trust does not conduct any business in the BVI or own any land in the jurisdiction.

of up to 3,000 gross tons can be registered in the Territory. In

There is a large and sophisticated community of professional advisers on trust matters in the Virgin Islands. Companies offering trust services must be licensed under the Banks and Trust Companies Act, 1990.

European Union member state, or a body corporate, incorporated

both instances, the owners must be a Virgin Islands citizen, British citizen, British Overseas Territories Citizen, British subject, a British national under the Hong Kong Order 1986, a national of a in a member state of the European Union or a British possession, including the Virgin Islands. If you do not meet the nationality requirement, you may register a company in the Virgin Islands in order to register a vessel.


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Registration procedure also requires the de-registration of the vessel from its current registry, a survey of the vessel and the submission of ownership documents to the Registrar of Shipping. The registration fee is $550, and an annual fee of $100 is payable to maintain registration. In addition, there will be legal fees charged by the firm you choose to assist you with registration.

Tax Information Exchange Agreements A Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) is a bilateral agreement that has been negotiated and signed between two countries to establish a formal regime for the exchange of information relating to civil and criminal tax matters. The purpose of TIEAs is to promote international co-operation in tax matters through exchange of information. TIEAs grew out of the work undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to address the lack of effective exchange of information among financial centres. Information exchange is based on requests relating to specific criminal or civil tax matters that are under investigation. The BVI has a long tradition of providing legal assistance to foreign regulatory and law enforcement authorities and continues to be committed to the OECD’s principles of transparency and effective exchange of information. Under the guidelines provided by the OECD and the new international tax standard emanating from the G-20 Summit in April 2009, jurisdictions are required to sign at least 12 TIEAs. To date the BVI has signed 28 TIEA’s. The BVI has agreements with Ireland, the Netherlands, Curacao, St. Maarten, Aruba, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, China, India, Germany, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Canada, Japan and South Korea and the Nordic group of countries Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. The International Tax Authority (ITA), established under the Ministry of Finance, is the Competent Authority in respect of all matters relating to Tax Information exchange. It ensures that the BVI effectively exchanges tax information with other countries under the laws of the Virgin Islands and the relevant TIEAs.

Real Estate Buying and Selling Property in the BVI For a deeper dive, also see the section on Real Estate - The Outlook for Real Estate, which is updated for each edition.

Foreigners planning to purchase property in the British Virgin Islands require a NonBelonger Land Holding License. Agreements to purchase property are therefore made contingent upon such a license being obtained by the purchaser. Application for a NonBelonger Land Holding License is made to the Government of the British Virgin Islands, Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. If the application for a license relates to undeveloped or partly developed land, the applicant will be required to make a commitment to the Government of the British Virgin Islands to expend a specified sum on development within a specified time period. The purchase of property by all persons including citizens and foreigners is subject to a Government stamp duty subsequent to transference of the property. The rate of 12% of the purchase price or appraised value whichever is higher, is payable by any foreigner and citizens are required to pay a 4%. The stamp duty on leaseholds is lower. Other costs associated with the purchasing of property in the BVI include: legal fee (usually between 1.5% to 2% of the purchase price), bank fees, 10% deposit to the seller’s agent to be held in escrow on the signing of the purchase agreement, pending acceptance and completion. There are no restrictions on an overseas investor re-selling a developed property. The property must however, be advertised for four weeks in the local press to give any local person the opportunity to purchase the property on the same terms. | BB

Government Listings Government Ministries and Departments Central Administrative Complex Road Town Tortola British Virgin Islands Website: www.bvi.gov.vg Premier’s Office Tel: (284) 468-2152 Fax: (284) 468-3294 E-mail: premieroffice@gov.vg Ministry of Finance Tel: (284) 468-2144 Fax: (284) 468-3299 Email: finance@gov.vg Ministry of Health & Social Development Tel: (284) 468-2174/2282 Fax: (284) 468-4412 E-mail: ministryofhealth@gov.vg Ministry of Transportation, Works & Utilities Tel: (284) 468-2183 Fax: (284) 468-3090 Email: mcw@gov.vg

Financial Services Commission Pasea Estate Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 494-1335 Fax: (284) 494-1435 E-mail: webmaster@bvifsc.vg Website: www.bvifsc.vg Telecommunications Regulatory Commission 27 Fish lock Road LM Business Centre 3rd Floor Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 468-4165 Fax: (284) 494-6786 E-mail: contract@trc.vg Website: www.trc.vg Virgin Islands Shipping Registry 2nd Floor RG Hodge Plaza (Old Traffic Building) Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 468-9646 Fax: (284) 468-2913 E-mail: vishipping.gov.vg Website: www.vishipping.gov.vg

Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Tel: (284) 468-2147 Fax: (284) 468-3321 Email: nrl@gov.vg

BVI International Arbitration Centre Ritter House Wickhams Cay II Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 340-9002 E-mail: info@bviiac.org Website: www.bviiac.org

Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Tel: (284) 468-2151 Fax: (284) 468-3343 Email: mec@gov.vg

Government Overseas Offices

Immigration Department 2nd Floor RJT Edifice Building Wickham’s Cay 1, Tortola Tel: (284) 468-4700 Fax: (284) 468-4729 E-mail: immigrationinfo@gov.vg Labour Department 2nd Floor, Ashley Ritter Building Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 468-4707/4780 Fax: (284) 468-2570 E-mail: labour@gov.vg

Statutory Bodies/ Associated Agencies Financial Investigations Agency Ritter House Wickhams Cay II Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 494-1335 Fax: (284) 494-1435 E-mail: info@fiabvi.vg Website: www.fiabvi.org BVI Finance Cutlass Tower, 4th Floor Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 852-1957 E-mail: info@bvifinance.vg Website: www.bvifinance.vg BVI Tourist Board 3rd Floor, Eureka Geneva Building Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 494-3134 Fax: (284) 494-3866 E-mail: info@bvitourism.com Website: www.bvitourism.com The BVI Commercial Court Old Banco Popular Building Main Street Road Town, Tortola Tel: (284) 468-2724 Fax: (284) 468-2729 cdecsc@gov.vg

BVI London Office 15 Upper Grosvernor Street London WIK 7PJ United Kingdom Tel: + 44 207 355 9570 BVI House Asia Suite 5106, 51/F., Central Plaza, 18 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 3468 8533 Fax: (852) 3107 0019 BVI Tourism Offices New York 1 West 34th Street Suite 302 New York, NY 10001 Tel: 800-835-8530 / 212-563-3117 Fax: 212-563-2263 E-mail: info@bvitourism.com Los Angeles 6601 Center Drive Suite 500 Los Angeles, CA 90045 Tel: 213-304-2993 United Kingdom 15 Upper Grosvenor St. London W1K 7PJ Tel: + 44-207-355-9585 Fax: + 44-207-355-9587 E-mail: info@bvi.org.uk

Emergency Numbers Police, Fire & Ambulance Virgin Islands Search & Rescue BVI Electricity Corporation Fire and Rescue Hospital Police Headquarters Water and Sewage

999 / 911 / 112 767 / 499-0911 494-3911/3912 468-4267/4268 852-7500 494-3822 468-5766/5901

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: All of the information in this guide has been carefully collected and prepared, but it still remains subject to change and correction. Use these contents for general guidance only and seek extra assistance from a professional adviser with regards to any specific matters. Readers can contact the relevant authorities mentioned in this Fast Fact Guide.

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ATLAN

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

Jost Van Dyke

TORTOLA

Peter

Norman

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NTIC OCEAN Anegada

Virgin Gorda

Great Camanoe Guana Scrub

Beef

Ginger Cooper Salt

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The Decider

Chris Yates An investor conversation Photographed by MAR JAVIERTO

C

hris Yates, owner of Yates Associates Limited, came to the Caribbean in the 1960’s after completing an Electrical Engineering degree in the United Kingdom. After a short stint in Montserrat, and following a visit to the BVI, where she met many of the islanders, Chris made the territory her home. Chris has lived in Virgin Gorda for more than 50 years and has observed and has had the privilege of being a part of the development that has occurred on that island. Chris is also the owner of Yates Associates Hardware, Caribbean Cooling, Leverick Bay Resort, Marina and Spa (and its subsidiaries) and Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals. She is still very active in the business and continues to live her passion daily. A typical day for Chris has her up and going at 4:30am, on the job at 6am until 5pm. In a rare sit down, Business BVI got a chance to not only delve deeper into what makes her tick, but also an opportunity to reminisce about what the British Virgin Islands was back then and appreciate where it is today.

Speak to us about moving to the BVI back in the 60’s, what was the big motivator to settle on a small undeveloped island, after growing up in a metropolis? After I graduated from college in the UK, I was unsure about what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a Mathematician, but I got a scholarship which was £20 more per year than I got for Math to do electrical engineering, so I opted to do that. I got thrown out after 2 years, as I failed my exam, so I did an apprenticeship in electrical engineering in the UK. I did 2 months with cable joints, 2 months climbing poles, 2 months house wiring, 2 months underground cable jointing and 2 months substation fitting. I liked working and passed my exams, so I went back to university and got my degree and did not know where I wanted to work, so I signed up with this graduate service overseas, where you worked in an underdeveloped place as a volunteer. (BVI had a bunch of volunteers here in the 1960’s.) I went to Montserrat, which was my first time to the Caribbean. I liked it there. I did my time in Montserrat, started a business there and then came to the BVI to visit friends and stayed, as I was offered work. I was brought over to Virgin Gorda by Rowan Roy to look at a project that Charlie Roy was working on at Guavaberry Spring Bay and then was asked to do a job at Texaco. While visiting, I became friendly with Andy Flax and Edwin Speedy George, who asked me to fix his welding machine. I found the problem and got it working. I was once again asked by Rowan Roy to complete the electrical wiring at Guavaberry Spring Bay. I built the power line across the road to the cottages and just stayed. I gave up Montserrat, as the BVI had US dollars.

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Tell us how Virgin Gorda and the greater BVI have progressed over the past 50+ years since you have been here, how has Virgin Gorda in particular changed since the 60’s? When you reflect on your achievements to date, would you do anything differently? Are there any key experiences that stand out? The Map of Virgin Gorda in the 60’s is located in the main lobby at the Administration Building which shows the salt pond where the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour is. When I came to Virgin Gorda, there were no concrete roads, the road to the existing dump was dirt and Little Dix Bay paid to pave the road as far as up to that point. The road from the Bend to North Sound was dirt. There were very few people on Virgin Gorda and the road to the Baths was very unfinished; not smooth, and one had to weave their way around the gullies. A lot of the workers who we employed in those days (in 1978, I teamed up with Sam Leonard) were from the BVI and many have become contractors today. In 1969, the big job I did was the Treasure Isle Hotel, when the Showering family bought it from the Roy’s. Clarence Thomas and I worked in the buildings and the contractors were mainly local people, guys from the East End. However, that changed overtime. Clarence Thomas started his store and we did Prospect Reef together. At the time, Bob Gray and Randolph “Mose” Malone were my clients. In 1969, I went over to Mosquito Island, when Edward Fredkin had just bought it. At that time, only two sailboats could be seen in the North Sound in a week. In that same year, I did the dock by the old Moorings (waterfront promenade), where I ran the power out on the dock for


The Decider

Open up and take our chances. Testing is improving every month and hopefully the vaccine will be a major help. How did you decide to go into the villa rental and management business? Do you have plans to build and sell any more villas? How do you come up with the designs for the villas? Do the potential owners have any input? We have started rebuilding Satori. I have not yet decided if I will sell it or I may keep it and put it in the rental pool, as we need accommodations. I have a strip of land above Mango Bay and I was thinking about building one-bedroom villas with plunge pools as it’s a nice view, which would add to the product (as we do not have any one-bedrooms) and would appeal to the honeymoon market, which has shown to be very resilient.

“I think that in life there are some people who generate stuff; building things, create employment, create opportunities and if you have the talent to do that, you should do it.” Charles Cary who started the Moorings and who at that time, had 3 boats. The biggest difference is now there are hundreds of boats. Little Dix Bay had opened in Virgin Gorda, but I could not afford to go there at the time. It was quiet as there weren’t a lot of people around. The vacation experience has changed. There is a lot more now. Back then, there was only David Hunter, the Canadian cottages in Fischer’s Cove in Spring Bay, Guavaberry had a few cottages, Ocean View and Lord Nelson Inn (where they had music on a Saturday night). Sam used to host shows at Fischer’s Cove. He used to bring in the Mighty Sparrow, but not many people were there. It’s a different vibe now. Virgin Gorda was always a safe place and you could walk anywhere on the island as I do now. I still walk around and do not feel unsafe. Why did you decide to go into the Hospitality and tourism industry? What are your thoughts on the current direction of the BVI tourism industry? With the current pandemic bringing the industry to a standstill, what opportunities do you see that can help with the industry’s recovery? We got into it by accident. Sam and I were building some houses over here and as

a result we got some partners from New York who wanted to build condominiums in Leverick Bay; one had a charter boat company (Sea Trek) and they signed up to buy 8 acres from Leon Stackler and insisted that Sam and I be partners with them, as we were going to be the builders. So, we became 25% partners, but then all three partners bailed out and they left us with the building and the Marina. We were going to lease the restaurant to someone, and he backed out and Sam and I said, “screw it” and decided to still build it. Sam was the greatest partner to have. We used to take risks and used to argue, but had a letter writing system, not sure if it would work today, to resolve our disagreements. When I got a job to build seven houses, I was introduced to Sam and approached him to be my partner. After we built those houses, we were asked to build Dr. Bulle’s house and we became 50/50 partners. I was Sam’s first formal partner, and we agreed to be partners for life. On the COVID-19 Pandemic, I would say we should open the borders safely, but I think there is a limit to safety. You cannot jeopardize the future of the young people for the sake of a few elderly people...even though I am in that category. We have got to open up, we have got to get the economy moving as the government does not have unlimited money, so there is no choice.

Designing a villa here is simple. You’ve got the view. Everybody wants to look at the view, so you do not want any rooms looking back at the land. You maximize ocean views, as that is what people come here for. In the old days, the second priority was to try to get the breeze through the building, but now the people want their air-conditioning anyway in the evenings. They are happy with the sitting rooms and like outdoor sitting, but when they go into their bedrooms, they want air-conditioning. It’s the view that takes precedence. Owners can have input when we are designing a villa and we have no problem if they wish to hire an architect. Who or what helps with your decision-making process, as you look at the future development of both properties? Where do you see them in 5 years? My vision for the properties is that – at Leverick Bay, we will build another dock to double the capacity, I think we will also add more rooms, will definitely do a major renovation of the old rooms (not a tear down and rebuild); and at Mahoe Bay, we will build some of the one-bedroom units out. What are your thoughts on sustainability? Would you classify your properties as meeting the requirements of what is considered “green”? It is difficult to talk about green on an island where everything is imported, and everything is burnt. Every government talks about recycling, but …talk is cheap. There have been plenty of examples of recycling projects but nothing happens, so I don’t think the island is serious as yet about going green.

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What keeps you up at night? Disloyalty, deceit, lying, when people try to take advantage of you. Also, ingratitude, procrastination by me or someone else.

About the company:

As I am getting older, I am more forgetful and would like to still do what I could 30 years ago and it’s annoying that one still commits to doing things, but then when you get home at 5/6pm (after being out since 5am), you sit down and fall asleep. (laughter) But, I’ll get up at 3am and will be reading a book and still thinking about work or incidents. What motivates you each morning? Knowing how busy you have been in the last three years following hurricanes Irma and Maria, do you make time for non-work/social activities? When my mom gets up and makes me a cup of tea (laughter). I walk the dogs at 4:30am. Mom always wants to know what she should prepare for me for dinner. How can I stop working when my mom still worked until she was 97years old? I play tennis and like to go boating. However, boating is banned for the moment. It has been a tough three years; feel like I have aged 10 years during that time. Who would you say are your role models/2 persons that have given you impetus for business or just life in general? My two role models were Sam Lennard and Leon Stackler. For business ideas, Sam would always be a person to put a team together. Leon Stackler, the developer of Leverick Bay, who had faith in Sam and me, to give us a chance to sell us his land over 10 years. In 1979, we made the deal, 8 acres for $240,000 which today is worth millions. He had faith in us, and what got us started. He gave us this opportunity. He also signed a house over to us (one of the round houses in Leverick Bay) for no money, to help us out of a financial situation with a partner who was trying to foreclose on us. Leon was very instrumental; a nice guy, very straight, very honest and very different. He laid the foundation and was very good to Sam and I.

Virgin Gorda Villa Rentals manages a portfolio of 20 luxury villas, located in the beautiful British Virgin Islands. The villas, located on the bays and hillsides of Mahoe and Leverick are constructed of natural materials, harmonising with the natural surroundings. Each villa is designed for absolute enjoyment, equipped with all of the comforts and amenities. Ideally suited to families and groups, seeking to relax in paradise, the villa group features a range of luxury residences, with swimming pools, decks, alfresco showers and beach dining. There is also access to neighbouring tennis courts, a squash court and water sports activities. All villas have recently been remodeled and feature, elegant, comfortable, wide open spaces.

www.vgvirgingordavillarentals.com

What advice would you give to a businessperson, especially during this COVID-19 environment? It is such an unknown thing. We are trying to keep as many staff working as possible. There are no boats on the dock. Construction is what’s keeping the island going at the moment. It’s an unusual thing – you damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Things are constantly changing; the government is changing the rules every seven days, the US government does not even know what to do, each state is doing their own thing. Everybody is experimenting. It is hard to tell a businessperson what to do. What would you like your legacy to be? I think that I have always treated people fairly and with respect and I think that in life there are some people who generate stuff; building things, create employment, create opportunities and if you have the talent to do that, you should do it. Do not take life too seriously, have fun and I joke around a lot. I think one should have fun doing what they are doing. I have some good partners now (Chad and Simon) in the construction company, different personalities but we have fun. Don’t get upset about things – does not get it fixed. I used to get upset about somethings. One of the things that I learnt from Sam – he would look for the first opportunity to do the person (who wronged him) a favour. Sam would also say that he had the common sense and I had the book learning, so his big challenge was teaching me common sense. (Chris chuckles.) | BB

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Leverick Bay Resort and Marina is situated in one of the most beautiful locations in the West Indies. Right on the shores of a magnificent large blue lagoon, known as “North Sound”, a Caribbean paradise for sailors and water sports enthusiasts. The resort features 13 spacious guest rooms and four two bedroom suites, with air-conditioning, televisions with Dish Network and internet service. All units have balconies, overlooking the North Sound and on-site amenities include a restaurant, pool, spa, watersports, beach bar with daily Happy Hour, entertainment, retail shopping, groceries and a full service marina.

www.leverickbayvg.com


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