Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr. the Hon. Kedrick Pickering and United Kingdom Overseas Territories Minister, Lord Ahmad held a bilateral meeting on 12 June in which they discussed preparations for the 2018 hurricane season, recovery of the British Virgin Islands and public registers of beneficial ownership.
The Deputy Premier confirmed that the Territory will be ready for the peak of the hurricane season as work on shelters and other areas proceed.
Hon. Pickering said, “We are of course still recovering form the rains and hurricanes of 2017, but all is being done that can be done to be ready for the 2018 hurricane season.”
The Deputy Premier and Overseas Territories Minister also discussed the passage of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 that requires Overseas Territories (OTs) to implement public registers of beneficial ownership before they are a global standard, a decision that goes against the wishes of OT Financial Centres.
Honourable Pickering expressed the serious constitutional concerns of the BVI public by the decision and its potential negative economic impact on the financial services sector and wider BVI economy at a time when the Territory is recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Lord Ahmad confirmed that the UK Government remains committed to the BVI’s recovery and that the offer stands of a loan guarantee of up to £300 million to support the Territory borrowing from financial institutions to rebuild the infrastructure of the islands and to advance the process of recovery.
He also said he is keen to visit the Territory very soon to show his support for the recovery.
Commenting on the bilateral meeting, the Deputy Premier said, “There are certainly strains in the OTs-UK relationship on the issue of public registers, but I welcome Lord Ahmad’s constructive approach to the BVI’s recovery and pledged support to the Territory this hurricane season. I look forward to his upcoming visit to the Territory.”
Honourable Pickering is currently leading a delegation in London, on behalf of Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE where they are attending the UKOTA Pre-Joint Ministerial Council, Joint Ministerial Council for Overseas Territories on European Negotiations and other meetings.
He is accompanied by the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office, Ms. Dawn Smith; BVI UK Representative, Benito Wheatley; BVI London Office Deputy Director, Dr. Sandra Besson; Cultural Attache, Siobhan Flax and Economic Advisor, Steve Johnson.