The Government of the British Virgin Islands is moving proactively to reset its relationship with the local media, particularly as it relates to the financial services industry.
As part of activities to launch the BVI Forward campaign designed to further strengthen the financial services sector, Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE hosted a breakfast for members of the media.
The event was designed to provide the media with information about the BVI Forward campaign and solicit their help in building awareness of the financial services industry, its critical importance to the future of the BVI and the impact it has on the daily lives of BVI residents.
The media is considered an essential partner in the process of engaging the population which is one of the initiatives outlined as part of the BVI Forward campaign. Initiative Sponsor, Mrs. Lorna Smith, OBE spoke of the apparent disconnect between the financial services industry and the population of the BVI.
“We need to become more conscious of the fact that not only does financial services contribute to 60% of the BVI economy, without financial services, we would not have made the kind of progress that we have,” she stated.
Guest speaker at the BVI Forward Media Breakfast, Mr. Gerard Farara, QC reminded journalists present of the fundamental role they play in a democratic society in terms of strengthening democratic principles and good governance.
Mr. Farara, senior partner at the local firm Farara-Kerins encouraged the media practitioners to maintain the distinction between facts and opinions and to help clear up misconceptions about the financial services industry, such as the inaccurate labeling of ‘tax haven’ placed on offshore centres like the BVI.
He specifically suggested in-depth analyses of financial services issues such as blacklisting and to highlight the various facets of the industry and what contributes to its success.
Journalists from the majority of media houses, along with several talk show hosts attended the breakfast and there was a general consensus to work with the BVI Government to shed further light on the industry and its importance to the local economy. Shortcomings of the existing relationship were identified and there was agreement on improving these going forward.
In addition to partnering with the local and international media, the BVI Forward campaign will include the use of digital and social media, non-industry champions who will serve as spokespersons for the industry and partnerships with key stakeholders.
BVI Forward is a campaign comprising ten initiatives which are identified as the strategy to ensure the strengthening and sustainability of the financial services industry. In addition to engaging the population, BVI Forward includes the establishment of a Delivery Unit to coordinate and drive implementation; revamping the International Finance Centre which is now BVI Finance; strengthening business development; building BVIslander capability; pursuing tax initiatives; enhancing customer service at the Financial Services Commission; attracting value-added services; reforming immigration and labour and investing in infrastructure.