British Virgin Islands

Monday, Mar 01, 2021

Banning entry of work permit exempt persons places BVI's social infrastructure on 'brink of disaster'

Banning entry of work permit exempt persons places BVI's social infrastructure on 'brink of disaster'

Former Minister for Labour Dr Kedrick Pickering has said he believes government’s recent decision to indefinitely ban work permit holders and work permit-exempt persons from entering the territory has more negatives than positives and could have ‘untold social damage’ for the BVI.

Dr Pickering made that comment in a recent video interview where he said the policy should be reviewed.

He said while a government of any country’s primary responsibility is its own citizens, the composition of the British Virgin Islands is uniquely different.

“Some of the recent studies have shown that as much as 60 percent of the BVI labour force is non-local. You’re basically saying that your economy depends on workers from other countries,” Dr Pickering explained.

Ban places BVI on brink of social disaster

The former legislator also broke down the three classes of a work permit exempted persons to justify why these categories of persons ought not to be prohibited from re-entering the BVI.

These include persons who are married to a Belonger, persons who have gone through the school system, and persons who have lived in the territory for 20 years or more.

“A work permit exemption is not a right, it is a privilege … But people who have lived in your country for 20 years, for all intents and purposes, this is their home. Most of those persons are either married or living in stable unions and probably most of their children are born in the BVI.”

“If you basically just say that my spouse went away on vacation or went away for a reason and because of the lockdown they are not allowed to come back into the country then you are doing untold damage to families, and therefore the social infrastructure of our country is going to be to the brink of disaster,” he added.

Barring work permit holders will affect local businesses

The former Deputy Premier further said local businesses will also be impacted by the increasingly controversial Immigration policy since a number of these businesses rely on work permit holders.

“Everybody who has a work permit in this country, they are working for a local firm or a company because you can’t get a work permit on your own, you have to be sponsored by your employer,” he stated.

“So you’re saying that local businesses cannot function because their employees are gone for whatever purpose and cannot come back. You are basically hand-stroking the companies from they themselves being able to function properly,” he argued.

Dr Pickering also said the multiplying effect also impacts landlords who now would be unable to pay their mortgages, due to the halt of income from the rent that would have been paid by these said work permit holders.


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