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Statement from Chief Minister Honourable Dr. D. Orlando Smith on Category One Registry

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

My Government made a pledge to diversify the Territory’s economy by finding new sources of revenue that would directly benefit the people of the British Virgin Islands.  An important element of this quest has been our aspiration to position the BVI as an internationally recognized maritime centre of excellence, and it is one that we have pursued enthusiastically.

 

We were determined to position the British Virgin Islands as an internationally recognized maritime centre of excellence, and it is one that we pursued enthusiastically. With this objective in mind we entered into negotiations with the United Kingdom Government to re-categorise the BVI as Category One shipping jurisdiction under the prestigious British Red Ensign Flag.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, today I am very pleased to announce that the Secretary of State of Transport has accepted the recommendation of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency for the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry to be upgraded to Category One status.

 

This announcement was made on Wednesday by the Chairman of the Red Ensign Group Conference being held in Guernsey. Once the legal process for the relevant Statutory Instrument is finalized, the next step is for the decision to be formally approved by the Privy Council.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is great and exciting news because high on this Government’s Legislative Agenda, under building a stronger economy, is the item to establish the BVI as a base for mega yachts. This announcement is of great significance, as it will position the BVI to attract large cargo vessels of unlimited tonnage and mega yachts of up to 3000 gross tons to our Register.

 

The prospect of the BVI flag plying international waters creates valuable opportunities for new sources of revenue both in terms of direct registration fees to Government, and vibrant prospects for private business in areas such as marine financing, insurance, law, and myriad services to ships.

 

That means that ships that currently must go to our competitors will have the opportunity to register right here in the BVI. And make no mistake, the BVI intends to compete for every vessel we can. We will spare no effort to make sure the international maritime community knows the value of registering their vessels in the BVI.

We will make this effort for one simple reason: because getting vessels to register here means money to pay for the critical services our Territory needs. This is money that helps pay for our schools and our healthcare services; our roads and our social services.  It also means employment opportunities for our people and it means a new level of pride in our BVI.

 

As we prepare for this significant development to come into full effect, I encourage the business community and indeed all young BVIslanders to begin to position yourselves to take full advantage of the rapidly expanding opportunities that the maritime industry affords us. 

 

My Government continues to make available educational opportunities and training in maritime disciplines such as nautical studies, marine engineering and naval architecture. Government has also made available courses leading to certification for operation of smaller and domestic vessels through the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.

 

I also wish to assure the local maritime industry that we stand ready to provide the best possible support to ensure that the full benefits accrue to the industry during this time of transition and for years to come.

 

In closing, I take this opportunity to commend the team at the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry who worked diligently with the support of my staff in the Chief Minister’s Office and the Financial Services Commission to achieve this important and historic milestone.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, having achieved this milestone, one I describe as a proud moment for the Government and the people, this is not the end but a beginning. I give my assurance to the local maritime industry, the international community and the wider BVI community that the Government will continue to maintain the high levels of performance that has brought us to this proud moment in our development as a Territory.

 

Thank you for listening.

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