After decades of friendly relations, Guyana and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are keen on strengthening existing business and political ties.
And to demonstrate the seriousness, the BVI is currently considering the removal of the visa requirement that had long been in place for Guyanese travelling to the British Overseas Territory.
The Virgin Island’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour, and Trade, Lorna Smith made the disclosure during an exclusive interview with the News Room on Thursday.
She is leading a 16-member government and business delegation to Guyana, exploring investment and other prospects.
“I have been authorized to say that the BVI is considering lifting that (visa) requirement and I expect it to happen very soon.
“If we are serious about doing business with Guyana and a partnership with Guyana that is the first thing that has to be lifted,” Smith said during the candid interview.
She is sure it is something that will happen in short order, flowing from the removal of the visa requirement last year by the United Kingdom.
Guyanese are the third largest foreign population in the BVI and have been supporting the country’s development since the 1960s; Smith reflected on being taught by Guyanese tutors as a child.
Since arriving in Guyana on Monday, Smith and her delegation have engaged a number of government and business stakeholders locally.
She said the BVI wants future relations to be mutually beneficial to both sides.
“We are not here to take from Guyana, we want to support each other,” the Deputy Premier asserted.
Smith firmly believes that Guyana can benefit significantly from the BVI’s expertise and tutoring in financial services.
“Guyana can use the BVI’s structure and yes, we can make some money.
“… but Guyana is open to capacity building and we are keen to support that,” she added.
The British Virgin Islands is by far the most significant international services center in the Caribbean.
“For instance, in the area of capacity building, I believe you have in Guyana a very strong and long tradition of tertiary education, in terms of financial services, we have the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College and the Robert Mathavious Institute for Financial Services, offering specific training in financial services.
“We believe we can offer that kind of support to young people and those interest in developing financial services capability in Guyana,” Smith reasoned.
She said was impressed with Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy and believes the BVI can learn from it.
Another visit will occasion soon to address other issues like air and sea transport, bilateral trade and long-term support for the oil and non-oil sectors.