BVI Premier Andrew Fahie touts economic recovery
During a three-hour press conference on Friday, BVI Premier Andrew Fahie and Transportation, Works and Utilities Minister Kye Rymer highlighted the continuing post-pandemic economic recovery, which they said is helping the government make progress on legislating and finishing long-delayed capital projects.
Though Mr. Fahie blamed the pandemic for slowing his government’s work, he promised that with infections falling and tourism numbers rising his administration will be able to better focus on enacting new laws, and he pointed to the recently enacted Integrity in Public Life Act as an example.
“This is not to say that all is well, but this is to say your government continues to navigate this ship … through uncharted waters,” Mr. Fahie said.
The leaders also decried the continuing violence claiming lives of young residents, the most recent being Le’Shaughn Arr Smith, who police say was fatally shot in Huntums Ghut on Feb. 24.
“We cannot continue to lose … anyone anymore to violence or any other senseless crime,” Mr. Fahie said.
After the VI’s tourist economy plummeted following the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, signs of life are looking stronger, said the premier, who provided new figures of visitors to the territory.
There were 18,019 overnight visitors in December and 18,827 in January, he said.
The number of cruise ship passengers has been swelling too, with 72,263 cruise shippers landing in the territory between July and December, and 36,602 recorded in January, Mr. Fahie added. “With the commitments that we have already secured from our cruise partners, the prospects for the future look very, very positive,” he said, adding, “This is good news for our taxi drivers, tour operators, shops, restaurants, craft vendors and all the other businesses and people in our economy.”
Despite the recent strong showings, a December report by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation showed that the territory’s tourism recovery actually fared worse than the Caribbean as a whole in 2021.
Tourism was not the only aspect of the economy that has provided cause to celebrate, the premier said.
Total revenue at the end of 2021 was roughly $339 million, about $9 million more than the budget estimate of $330 million for total 2021 revenue, he explained.
Except for taxes on international trade, which fell by about $7 million, “all revenue streams experienced growth over budget estimates,” Mr. Fahie added.
The financial services industry outperformed expectations, netting the VI about $190 million of revenue, which was about $10 million more than the budget estimate, Mr. Fahie said.
The trend of financial services revenue performing above budget estimates appears to have continued at the beginning of this year, as preliminary figures show that the industry collected $13 million in fees, about $2 million more than the budget estimate, he added.