ROAD TOWN, BVI -- As the world continues to emerge from the global financial crisis, premier of the British Virgin Islands, Dr Orlando Smith, during the 2014 Budget Address said that his government has risen to the challenge, delivered the goods, averted the global financial crisis and done extraordinarily well in holding the community together.
Dr Orlando Smith
In announcing a budget of $301,746,000 on Monday, Smith said that since his government took office the team has been making great strides in safeguarding the BVI’s economy. He added that despite tremendous fiscal pressures, it has been able to simultaneously build the territory’s bread and butter economic sectors and reserve fund.
“This budget builds on our past achievements and seeks to continue to foster our vision to build a better Virgin Islands,” he said. “I am therefore very confident that this budget will help to continue our country's progress towards stability and growth.”
Smith outlined a few of last year’s accomplishments, citing improvements in the tourism industry. He explained that the government was successful in finding alternatives and forming partnership with the existing airlines serving the territory. He said the government was also able to provide incentives for new airlines to ensure regular flights to the territory.
In further extending the BVI’s footprint and positioning it to better serve global customers, Smith said he was pleased that the territory had a visible presence in the Asia/Pacific region with the opening of BVI House Asia in Hong Kong, since at least 40 percent of the financial services business comes from there.
In speaking about infrastructural projects, Smith said the government has been selective and will continue to focus mainly on those that provide measurable benefits to the entire territory.
“Government's duty to ensure that its citizens have such amenities as a reliable water supply and sewerage disposal system, a viable and relevant social security system, a decent road network and safe and adequate sea and air ports,” he said, adding that the external and internal works of the New Peebles Hospital is a seminal accomplishment.
In speaking about his government’s strategies to safeguard the economy, Smith said that, despite tremendous fiscal pressures, the government was able to ensure that public officers were paid and at the same time build its reserve fund.
“Undoubtedly that has been the result of the hard work, foresight and the strategies we have deployed,” he said.
He added that the government employed prudent and much needed interventions.
“If that was not so, we would be facing a different future to the future we face today of hope and prosperity,” he said.
The vision of the government of the British Virgin Islands is to create “a prosperous Virgin Islands, that is ideal to live, work, visit, and do business.”
Smith is confident that the budget presented will help to continue the territory’s progress towards stability and growth.