Economy of the British Virgin Islands

The economy of the British Virgin Islands is one of the most prosperous in the Caribbean. Although tiny in absolute terms, because of the very small population of the British Virgin Islands, in 2010 the Territory had the 19th highest GDP per capita in the world according to the CIA World factbook. In global terms the size of the Territory's GDP measured in terms of purchasing power is ranked as 215th out of a total of 229 countries. The economy of the Territory is based upon the "twin pillars" of financial services, which generates approximately 60% of government revenues, and tourism, which generates nearly all of the rest. Historically the British Virgin Islands has normally produced a Government budget surplus, but during the financial crisis of 2007–2008 the Territory began to run at a deficit, which continued after the global recession receded. In 2011 the Territory had its largest ever budget deficit, of US$29 million (approximately 2.6% of GDP). By 2012 public debt had quadrupled from pre-crisis levels to approximately US$113 million (approximately 10.3% of GDP). Nearly 84% of that public debt was attributable to a new public hospital built in Road Town between 2003 and 2014. The Economist argued that deteriorating economic conditions in the British Virgin Islands were caused "not [by] sagging revenues but public-sector profligacy". By 2014 public debt had been reduced to US$106 million and the annual deficit reduced to US$25 million (including budgeted capital expenditure). By 2016, the Government had returned to a primary budget surplus, but public debt had increased to approximately US$141 million and debt service accounted for over US$12 million of the primary surplus. However, because of an ongoing aggressive capital investment programme, and budget overruns on key public projects, the Government ran dangerously low on available cash. Cash in the consolidated fund fell below US$7 million (with average monthly expenditure at nearly US$30 million), and Government accrued over US$13 million in due but unpaid invoices.


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