Financial Services Implementation Unit Director Kedrick Malone continued spreading the word last week about the economic reforms his recently established department is attempting to make, speaking at the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association’s luncheon at The Moorings on Oct. 28.

Mr. Malone’s main message was that the policy changes the FSIU is working to bring about will drastically change the economic landscape of the territory because they will encourage many more of the companies incorporated here to set up physical locations.

The FSIU director explained that there is increasing pressure from the international community on multinational enterprises to create “real” economic activity – such as jobs and revenue – in the jurisdictions where they have a presence.

To do that, many of the multinationals will soon set up brick-and-mortar locations in offshore financial centres in order to demonstrate that they’re indeed creating real value here, he predicted.

“Whatever is created has to be substance-based,” he said.

Mr. Malone touted this changing economic landscape as a positive both for the territory as a whole and for local business owners, explaining that more brick-and-mortar locations will mean more demand for local goods and services.

“New talent coming here to work will bring families who need housing,” he said, adding that there will also be an increased demand for restaurants, hotels, conference rooms and other lifestyle amenities. “As this economy develops, there will be a need for all of that.”

However, to bring those additional brick-and-mortar locations will require the FSIU to implement the reforms recommended by the $1.15 million study that government commissioned last year from the firm McKinsey & Company.

Recommended reforms include streamlining the territory’s immigration and labour policies, enhancing customer service at the Financial Services Commission, investing in infrastructure, and strengthening business development.

Mr. Malone said his unit is currently focusing on immigration and labour reforms.

Gerard Farara QC, who oversees the FSIU subcommittee on immigration and labour, recently completed his report recommending reforms. If and when the FSIU Steering Committee approves the report, it will go to Cabinet for final approval and implementation.

“The essence of it is there will be a one-stop shop for work visas, which combines visas and work permits,” Mr. Malone said.

He didn’t speak much about the other reforms under way, but said he hopes to have at least the groundwork for all of them laid within the next two years.