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Drastic increase in license fees harmful to small businesses- Skelton-Cline

- questions timing of legislation
The existing trade license fees range from $25 to $250 for Belongers and $200 to $600 for non-Belongers; however, under the new proposed structure, the fees range from $150 to $1,500 for Belongers and $1,500 to $15,000 for non-Belongers depending on the category of business. Photo: GIS/File
With the fees for trade licenses expected to dramatically increase, now that the Business Licensing Act 2020 has been passed in the House of Assembly (HoA), commentator Claude O. Skelton-Cline has opined that the expected hike in fees could be especially discouraging towards existing small businesses and the startup of such businesses. Photo: VINO/File
With the fees for trade licenses expected to dramatically increase, now that the Business Licensing Act 2020 has been passed in the House of Assembly (HoA), commentator Claude O. Skelton-Cline has opined that the expected hike in fees could be especially discouraging towards existing small businesses and the startup of such businesses. Photo: VINO/File
BAUGHERS BAY, Tortola, VI- With the fees for trade licenses expected to dramatically increase, now that the Business Licensing Act 2020 has been passed in the House of Assembly (HoA), commentator Claude O. Skelton-Cline has opined that the expected hike in fees could be especially discouraging towards existing small businesses and the startup of such businesses.

The existing fees range from $25 to $250 for Belongers and $200 to $600 for non-Belongers; however, under the new proposed structure, the fees range from $150 to $1,500 for Belongers and $1,500 to $15,000 for non-Belongers depending on the category of business.

Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) said the National Unity Government has “aimed to be competitive and relatively affordable while balancing the need for the Virgin Islands Trade Commission to generate revenue to become more self-sufficient and make a contribution to the overall finances of the Virgin Islands.”

Negative impact on local small businesses- Skelton-Cline

According to Mr Skelton-Cline, the increase fees could have a negative impact on local new upstarts and emerging small businesses.

“What this does, particularly amongst the local industrious population, is that it eliminates….and substantively are going to eliminate persons from pursuing businesses and upstarts,” Skelton-Cline said during his Honestly Speaking radio show on June 21, 2022.

According to the talk show host, he understands the need for revenue, “I am clear on that and I am clear that there is always a need for the tightening of legislation and I am clear that some of these rates have been in place for a while. What concerns me is it coming on stream at a time like this.

“It begs to question the notion, the motive, the intention behind that,” Mr Skelton-Cline stated.

32 Responses to “Drastic increase in license fees harmful to small businesses- Skelton-Cline”

  • Ur Smart Guy.. (26/06/2022, 14:23) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    It's simple. The option is to increase revenue or cut cost...This is an effort to keep Civil no Service from getting cut...I am not hearing the good Premier asking his Civil no service to step up and improve, get to work early, provide quality service to all..Britain is watching.
    • tribeca (26/06/2022, 20:22) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
      The Civil Service belongs to the Governor and his deputy. The premier has no power over them. But it does appear that he could be trying to secure revenue for their salaries. We'll have to see how it goes but if the civil service needs to be reduced it has to be when there is a thriving private sector. Can't kill one to help the other.
      • Crazy joe (27/06/2022, 04:33) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
        Nor true. The government sets the numbers and salaries for the civil service.
  • belonger (26/06/2022, 14:37) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    I guess I got to stay where I am for the rest of my life. I wanted to start my own business I’ll still try but this is very discouraging. I’ve worked for someone else long seems that it’s not long enough for this government. Anyways it is what it is I’ll still try my luck.
  • c (26/06/2022, 14:55) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Right. A very bad time.
    • Rubber Duck (27/06/2022, 04:39) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      One of the problems is that most businesses need multiple trade licenses. For example you run a big store and decide to put a coffee shop in it you need another trade license. You have a bar and decide to sell some snacks , you need another trade license. Hotels etc have 7 or 8 trade licenses.

      Just another anti business operation of the BVI government whose policy appears to be to discourage enterprise and shut down everything.
  • wolf (26/06/2022, 15:00) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
  • Tasty (26/06/2022, 15:03) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    Claude seems to have an opinion on everything except the CoI ordered inquiry into his business dealings!
  • justin (26/06/2022, 15:20) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    when the so-called rich investors comes into my country the government give them tax breaks on almost every thing……but the little boys & girls are squeezed

    pay attention:-
    The Caribbean brothers & sisters who uses the money grams and western union have to pay tax on their transaction…..small money just making sure family can be happy

    Pay attention:-
    the so called financial services operations pay not one thing to government for those billion dollars wire transfers

    Pay attention:-
    The politicians only care about the small boys and girls just before the elections

    • Concessions available to locals too (26/06/2022, 19:44) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Local can apply for the same Hotel Aid and Pioneer Status and do so all the time and get approved. They just don't want people minding their business
      • justin (26/06/2022, 22:10) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        @ concession to locals too….dont miss the point, the so call RICH white investors gets tax free privileges(deep pockets)

        After there projects are complete they bring they rich white friends to run the business while the locals are paid minimum wage

        it should not be a big deal if a local gets certain benefits in our own country because we can not leave BVI and get certain insensitive in other countries

        Chat dat !!!!
  • Not a real fan.... (26/06/2022, 15:42) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    ...... but he could not be any more correct!! We want for young BVIslanders to return home after schooling abroad. Home to what???
    They better stay where they are. Only a few large businesses will be able to afford that and will surely pass it on to we the customer. There are lots of places who will welcome our expats customers with open arms. BAD decision!!!
  • Worker (26/06/2022, 16:55) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    I currently have two trade licenses and pay a high enough fee for renewals as it is. The new fee structure will bankrupt me and many other small businesses will go under as well.....
    • BVI tourist (27/06/2022, 17:55) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @Worker - exactly. Unfortunately I don't think anyone in your government has had a basic economics class. They closed the businesses during Covid, lost huge amounts of tax revenue, and are now trying to squeeze money from businesses when they are still trying to recover.
  • He's rich (26/06/2022, 17:37) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    so he can pay the increased TL fees for all BVI businesses with all his 'free money' he received for the VIP/NDP the last 10 years.
  • Native Senior Citizen of the British Virgin Islands (26/06/2022, 17:55) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    True Claude Skeleton Cline in mine opinion was wrong on many, if not most, of the past issue topics that he has brought forward, but on this one he has made some strong points, in reference to hike of Small Business licence at this point of hardship ongoing in our country., In my honest opinion.
    Whether or not he is still a main supporter of the current political cabinet or the present one is beside the point. The hikes can be detrimental against good governance at the time.
  • opposition (26/06/2022, 17:57) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    The unity government full ah it
  • Struupzz (26/06/2022, 18:00) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The raisining everything but the minimum wage
    • BVI tourist (27/06/2022, 17:31) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @Struupzz - With the government punishing businesses with increased fees (probably to make up for their self inflicted Covid revenue losses), you expect the businesses to have even more money for increased wages? Eventually the businesses will close and unemployment will rise. Hasn't anyone in your government taken a basic economics class? Meanwhile in the wide open, free USVI....$$$$$$$.
  • reality (26/06/2022, 18:03) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    the top end of $1500 is for a BVIslander owned law firm/finanical services so thats chump change to them the lower end of $150 if you cannot afford that they you should not be in business as to expats who have to pay more, well you can always open a business in your own country , nobody is stopping you....
    • Ok run the investors (27/06/2022, 06:46) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      I understand the fees for the belongers may not be high considering but there's a big difference with the amounts for the expat businesses. You say they should close shop and go elsewhere. What about the many BVI slanders daily bread who comes from that expat business. Sometimes while trying say our foot we chopping off our neck
      • @okrun the investors (27/06/2022, 09:09) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        then the BVIslanders who run your business and now run their own business...
    • @reality (27/06/2022, 10:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      When you cant find a job opening a business should be the next option. Mine started with less than $10 after fees. Its been 3 years. Some people have it so good on their train tracks hooked up to the government salary they cant see reality. Stop talking about chump change Mr/Mrs Rich because your whole net worth is chump change to someone out there.
  • ... (26/06/2022, 19:58) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is not a way to increase revenues. whos revenues is it increasing? Its decreasing the peoples revenues literally. Make business easier, more apply and we have a more robust economy. Im ashamed of the politicians now.
  • vi (26/06/2022, 21:44) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    It have people just collecting Trade Licences with not true business operations.
  • Native Senior Citizen of the British Virgin Islands (26/06/2022, 21:46) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Correction please: I meant to write:
    Whether or not he (CSC) supported the past cabinet: (VIP) or he present one ( the unity Government cabinet) is beside the point....

  • Really (27/06/2022, 04:36) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    THIS is very sad how people are so dumb. They give you all the signs of the last days and you all are still playing dumb. This is exactly why they stole everything from us and charge us for it. Everything is all planned but the sheeps calls us conspiracy theorist when it's facts from the same people who gives you all your learning. Everyone is going to fall to their knees soon. A loaf of bread will be your day pay, which it is in many countries right now. First it was the invisible deadly virus,then it disappeared when they gave you the rumors of war, then gas which gas in disappearing,now inflation,now food shortages well if you can use common sense to add this up then you really are dumb to the fullest. Only the dumb brainwashless sheep is going to dislike the truth because the they do put chemicals in our food to change our thoughts but you wouldn't look that up either.
  • BVI tourist (27/06/2022, 07:57) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Decrease fees & regulations for everyone, including USVI day tour operators, and watch your opportunities & revenue dramatically increase!
  • BVIslander (27/06/2022, 08:10) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    As a citizen of this country this is one of the most hilarious moves I have ever seen. What this will cause and the motive and intentions behind this is to discourage further local entrepreneurs along with further expats from creating a business. Let me be clear I am a 100% local born and raised but this doesn't sit well with me as to how we locals are being treated and how the expats have been treated. Expats contributes as much as locals here so we all feeling these fee increase. FIXXXXX ITTTTT!!!
  • balance (27/06/2022, 09:05) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    BVI cannot treat the start-ups and boutiques like they treat the big trust and law firms. there has to be a stepped system that can allow business to grow and beneficit the territory along the way long term. Other jurisdictions are pushing an open door if they want to take our clients (tourism and financial services)
  • Native Senior Citizen of the British Virgin Islands (27/06/2022, 11:30) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    As I have written, I have disaggeed against most of Claude Skeleton Cline past positions, in reference to tak show, but on this particular topic, he has made some strong meaningful good points that should be respected by our people without political parties preference, and personal financial gains.
    In accordiling to my knowledge, wisdom, a principle good unity government does not surpreses politically businesses, especially small ones, with drastic rise in business license fees, in stead it lower them to help the grow from small to bigger.
    Unity government does not all times means that all actions are good, even though thise actions are unitedly agreed,
    Many small stakes bear the weight of large houses.
    Why not put a lesser numberof big stakes to bear the weight of many small houses instead?
    Can every person lift and carry the same weight?
    Let us allowing ourselves of continually being made fools of by this so-called unity government any longer.
    The big free nipple that they have sucked on has been takes away from them. Now the current Premier and cabinet has targeted businesses, by drastic hike of business license, that is causing, especially more than big businesses greater suffering, even in time of toughness. So it is clear to see that unity can be as a double edged sword, but the small, and poor are more vulnerable.
    This business license fees hike can cause loss of joy to many, especially in the a job for them are a must.
    Unity means oneness of mind and purpose for all the people of this country, not only a small minority of employees (politicians) that have been employed by the people to represent our best interest.
    Dictatorship is an evil ship that will1 surely sink, the sooner the better.
    I love politicians. But I very much hate wrong actions, especially against the small and weak that daily struggling to survive due to public emloyed political hardship, caused by selfish pride.
    God our Creator loves us all. May by His (our Creator) grace He help you and I to genuinely love one another, continually embraced each others best interest with genuine love.

    Many blessings, not curses, hopefully to all the people's of the BVI this day, and in the future.
  • BVI tourist (27/06/2022, 17:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Serious question: If you could choose for your islands to be part of USVI or BVI, which would you choose? No "independent" answers, please - that's understood. It just seems that USVI is run so much better.

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