HONOURABLE DR. NATALIO D. WHEATLEY
PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
AT THE FIFTH SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION
OF THE FIFTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
EUROPEAN BLACKLIST STATUS
TUESDAY, 31ST OCTOBER, 2023
PROPOSED COMMERCIAL RECREATIONAL VESSEL LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENTS
Madam Speaker, I stand before you today to address a matter of significant importance to the maritime community and the economic vitality of the British Virgin Islands. The upcoming introduction of legislative amendments to the Commercial Recreational Vessels Licensing (CRVL) Act marks a crucial step towards ensuring a fair, transparent, and thriving maritime sector within our beloved Virgin Islands.
The proposed amendments which at present, are being finalised to be introduced to this Honorable house in short order, are a result of careful consideration, stakeholder consultations, and a deep understanding of the evolving needs of our maritime industry. They are meticulously crafted to streamline processes, enhance operational efficiency, and to foster an environment conducive to sustainable growth. These recommendations are aimed at enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the CRVL Act, with the ultimate goal of fortifying our position as a leading maritime jurisdiction in the region.
The core amendments include a range of policies aimed at achieving the following objectives:
- Streamlining Vessel Categorisation;
- Ensuring Vessel License Integrity;
- Promoting Large Yacht Presence;
- Strengthening Registration Requirements;
- Mandating BVI Charter Origin;
- Exempting BVI Vessels from Cruising Permits; and
- Exempting BVI Vessels from Import Duties.
Madam Speaker, these amendments are designed to strike a balance between regulatory oversight and the facilitation of a flourishing maritime sector.
Madam Speaker a key amendment to the CRVL Act pertains to the expiration dates of CRVL licenses. By transitioning from a uniform expiration date of October 31st to an anniversary date expiration, we seek to eliminate procedural bottlenecks and reduce administrative burdens on vessel operators. This shift will allow for a smoother and more staggered renewal process, ensuring that licenses are renewed in a timely manner without overwhelming administrative resources.
Additionally, Madam Speaker, we propose an extension of the length of time that non-commercial vessels can remain in our territorial waters, before requiring importation. This aligns us with international standards and sends a welcoming message to vessel owners, encouraging prolonged stays in the Virgin Islands without the worry of import duties. This extension not only fosters economic activity but also strengthens our reputation as a hospitable and attractive destination for maritime tourism.
Madam Speaker, the proposed amendments further seek to adjust long-standing CRVL fees, which have not been adjusted since their enactment in 1992. The fee revision seeks to encompass present market rate and inflation levels to obtain administratively optimal fees.
In conjunction with the proposed amendments to the Commercial Recreational Vessels Licensing (CRVL) Act and other relevant legislations, we will embark on a comprehensive public awareness campaign. This campaign will aim to inform and engage the public, industry stakeholders, and relevant organisations about the forthcoming changes and their significance.
Madam Speaker the proposed amendments to the Act will serve as a testament of our commitment to fostering an environment that is conducive to both local and international vessel operators. By implementing these changes, we not only stimulate economic growth, but also contribute to the preservation and sustainability of our invaluable blue economy.
Madam Speaker, I seek the support and collaboration of each Member of this House in advancing these critical amendments. Together, we can forge a path towards a prosperous future, for our maritime industry and the broader economy of the British Virgin Islands.