Lawmakers passed two “urgent” pieces of legislation related to financial services during their sitting on Thursday.


The first, an amendment to the Mutual Legal Assistance (Tax Matters) Act, will help facilitate the territory’s automatic exchanges of information under the United States Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, explained acting Premier Dr. Kedrick Pickering when making the motion.

The second, a change to the Partnerships Act, clarifies what type of documentation must be kept for business partnerships incorporated in the Virgin Islands, Dr. Pickering said.

Both bills were expedited — they were introduced, debated and passed during Thursday’s sitting — in a move Dr. Pickering said is justified when the laws in question pertain to financial services.

“BVI financial services is a brand, and once you have a brand you have to protect it,” he added.

The bills were supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle.

“It’s not a matter of politics: It’s a matter of the country, and we have to do it,” Opposition Leader Ralph O’Neal said of keeping the territory’s financial services legislation up-to-date.

Government-side lawmakers agreed.

“This is to protect the industry on which we all depend so heavily,” Delores Christopher (R-D5) said during the debate.

Also during the morning portion of the sitting, Dr. Pickering gave an update on the territory’s greenhouse project.

The Natural Resources and Labour Ministry will soon begin negotiations about the greenhouses with a company called International Business Trader, he said. Dr. Pickering did not state the specific goal of the negotiations, but said that negotiators will “keep in mind the involvement of the local farming community.”

On Thursday afternoon, lawmakers were scheduled to continue their sitting, laying documents on the table before wrapping up with the usual discussion of matters chosen by the HOA members.

See the Sept. 18, 2014 edition for full coverage.