Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr Orlando Smith and Russell Harrigan, Chairman of the BVI Tourist Board
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Government has defended its decision to have the Financial Comptroller of the BVI Tourist Board (TB) continue to work out of New York, as opposed to being stationed on island. The government cited that the individual has been able to help get the board's finances back on track, a challenge it faced for several years.
The Financial Comptroller is BVIslander, Jaslin Frett-Thompson.
Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith said that in order to make the work arrangement in New York viable for all concerned (the Tourist Board and Financial Comptroller), the board saw it fit and reasonable to provide some assistance, given the relatively high cost of housing in New York.
He said as such, the board decided and commenced with providing assistance to the Financial Comptroller while residing in New York---housing allowance $1,150.00 per month and transportation allowance $350.00 per month, totaling $1,500.00 per month.
The Finance Minister said that the Financial Comptroller is the same executive team leader who led the efforts reflecting his mandate to bring the board's accounts and financial reports fully up to date—to include presenting monthly financial reports at all meetings of the board, implementing internal controls and ensuring that the board’s bills are paid in accordance with established payment arrangements—all of this while operating on a much smaller budget.
It was disclosed that as of today, the board can proudly say that it has met the Premier's objectives, as all of the board’s outstanding financial statements (2007 – 2011), and the more recent reports, including 2015, are current and have been submitted.
"The Financial Comptroller also facilitated via two external audit agencies, the completion of the board’s audits from 1998 – 2015, a total of 18 years of formal financial reports completed and submitted during her 4 year tenure," the Premier said.
He noted that the Financial Comptroller is result driven and has helped to change the accountability culture at the board, an issue that plagued the board in the past.
"Historically, funding challenges contributed to the board’s inability to access credit in a global market. Today, the board’s credibility among local and international stakeholders has now been restored."
According to the Finance Minister, North America represents approximately 71% of visitors to the BVI, with New York being the number one source market. New York is also one of the more lucrative and prominent global tourism destinations.
Currently, there are 10 other board employees (Business Development/Sales and Administrative) assigned to North America.
"As such, the placement of our Financial Comptroller (an executive team member of the Tourist Board’s staff) in our key market was very strategic, timely, and instrumental in maintaining a competitive advantage in the tourism sector."
He said that there is no other senior executive Tourist Board officer working and residing abroad. However, Premier Smith said that the board has and continues to have locals working in various offices around the globe, like do virtually all other major tourism jurisdictions.