ROADTOWN Tortola BVI, September 14th, 2011 – Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE says being ranked in the top ten out of 31 Caribbean and Central American countries for future foreign direct investment is a further boost and marketing power for government, its promotional agencies and local entities in attracting domestic, regional and international investments.
Premier O’Neal was at the time speaking with the Department of Information and Public Relations about the Territory’s number one spot for having the Caribbean’s ‘best quality of life’, second in human resources and seventh overall country for foreign direct investment.The rankings were compiled by the Financial Times Ltd Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) Intelligence division.
Premier O’Neal said, “This is definitely high honours for us to be evaluated by a reputable independent investment body as an elite destination and jurisdiction for investment.”
He further stated that he is extremely proud of the Territory’s achievement.
“We have to keep doing what we do best: being nature’s best kept secrets and rest assure that others will continue to not only watch our development and growth, but will want to get the recipe for sustainability,” he explained.
He said the human resources rating is a confirmation that the Territory is effectively investing in the educational enhancement and development of its people.
The Premier added that government, in collaboration with the public, will continue to contribute to the further development and enhancement of the Territory’s twin economic pillars: tourism and financial services.
“This is our Virgin Islands, our Territory, our home, our haven of rest and together we must build it, take care of it, and promote it,” Premier O’Neal said.
The criteria for the best quality of life included life expectancy, infant mortality, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) out per purchasing power parity (ppp) capita, unemployment, crime and secondary enrollment. The criteria for human resources include labour force, literacy rate, school life expectancy, education expenditure ad tertiary enrollment rate.
Director of the Development Planning Unit Mr. Raymond Phillips told the Department of Information and Public Relations that reports like these are always beneficial to countries that fare well and both Virgin Islanders and residents should feel proud of this achievement as it is a positive reflection on the Territory as a whole.
Mr. Phillips said, “There are many factors that may have contributed to the Virgin Islands’ ranking so well overall and in the ‘Best Quality of Life’ category, which by the way I think was the most important category in terms of the value of the report,” adding, “It speaks to the quality of our health, education, legal, immigration and labour systems and policies.”
He explained that based on international standards an unemployment rate below five percent is considered full employment and in 1991 the BVI’s unemployment rate was three point five [3.5] percent and in 2001, it was at three point one [3.1] percent. In the area of education dropout rates are also relatively low in comparison to our regional neighbours.
The Territory’s secondary enrollment rate stands between 80-90 percent, a figure that can be easily attributed to local education policies which mandate that between five and 16 years old be enrolled in school. Additionally, the Territory has a very low infant mortality rate and high life expectancy, which is now around 80 years.
The Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) Intelligence is a specialist division from the Financial Times Ltd. established to aid investment promotion agencies in making informed decisions regarding foreign direct investment activities.
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