Kevin Smith on July 2, 2011
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Kevin 'OJ' Smith, a former Post Master General of the BVI Post who contested the Third District seat at the November 2011 election under the National Democratic Party (NDP), is now the Acting Director of the Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs.
Smith, who was contracted by Government as Business Development Liaison in the Premier's Office for a two year period, appeared on a special Government Information Service (GIS) programme where he was introduced as the Acting Director of the Trade and Consumer Affairs Department. On that programme, he spoke on a Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Financial Management Technique Workshop being held at The Moorings Marina from October 23-26.
The substantive holder of the post of Director of Trade and Consumer Affairs, Ms. Lizette George was earlier this month seconded to the BVI's London Office under the Civil Service Secondment Programme. She is now officially serving as the BVI London Office's (BVILO) new Management Officer in the United Kingdom (UK) for a period of 12 months.
Ms. George has held the post of Director of Trade and Consumer Affairs since the department was established in 2006.
In relation to her secondment, Ms. George had stated that she is looking forward to supporting the work of the BVI London Office in the year ahead, "and hope to gain new insights on international trade and development that will allow me to better serve our Government in the area of policy development upon returning home."
According to Government, Director of Culture, Mrs. Luce Hodge-Smith completed an official handover of the BVILO Management Officer position to Ms. George. Mrs. Hodge-Smith served from October 2011 to September 2012.
Meanwhile, in its 2011 annual report, the department stated that the post of Deputy Director for the Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs has been vacant since 2008.
In relation to the workshop on financial management, Kevin Smith during the GIS programme said it is being sponsored by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in conjunction with the Trade Department and the National Bank of the Virgin Islands. He said it is a coordinated effort to lend support to small businesses.
"The financial management workshop is designed to teach small business owners or to demonstrate to small business owners the importance of financial management; the importance of data; how to use data and where it benefits their business in terms of not only access to capital, but also fostering growth for their particular business," Smith said.
The Acting Director said persons will also learn about cash flow.
"...In some of the discussions I have had with bank managers and even some of the persons at the workshop with CDB [in Barbados], it was noted that small businesses are very good at production, but they don't necessarily always manage their finances in the right way. And not managing your finances in the right way is going to impede your ability to actually grow your business to be able to have a better chance of having access to capital and so forth. So we want to stress on some of those things," he explained.
On December 19, 2011, Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr. Orlando Smith through a statement in the House of Assembly said Government hired Kevin Smith to provide development assistance to businesses. Premier Smith said businesses will only thrive if they are given the necessary support to do so and Government was pleased to have Smith on board in this capacity.
The Premier said entrepreneurs continue to face many challenges, including access to capital and trained human resources, adequate management skills and limited markets for expansion.
He said that is why his Government is working diligently to re-establish a Business Bureau to provide development assistance to entrepreneurs, to foster the growth of the business sector and to encourage new businesses as well. The Premier lamented in his December statement that there are many BVIslanders who are keen to start their own business and as a Government, they must do all that they can to support those persons.
At the time, the Premier said Kevin Smith will vigorously reach out to businesses.
He had stated that Kevin Smith will be overseeing the strategic direction of the programmes and activities of the business bureau and will closely monitor the global economic, social and other developments that affect businesses and will coordinate the requisite activities for identification and implementation of funding facilities.
Premier Smith had stated that apart from coordinating assistance programmes for small businesses in terms of business start-up, technical expertise, training and counseling, business plan writing and market and technology research, "Smith is also providing support to the Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs by assisting with the review of the trade policy and other legislative instruments related to the economic development of the Territory."
Members of the House were also told that they have all heard the relentless complaints about trade license processing and according to Premier Smith, in short it takes far too long for BVIslanders to secure approval of their licenses and where the license application provides the requisite information, approval should be had very quickly.
"We believe that reviewing and improving the processes and procedures for obtaining trade licenses is critically important to ensuring the effective management and growth of small businesses in the Territory. The requisite legislation will therefore be amended accordingly."
In the December statement, the Premier said Kevin Smith had already begun following up on the National Trade Policy which is designed to bring legislation on fair competition, foreign direct investments, franchising, anti-dumping and consumer protection. He said this policy will help to address the development and operational needs of the business sectors and it will facilitate business growth.