Penn made that statement amid a push from government to decrease the territory’s working expat population.
“The reality is that … based on the BVI‘s economy and the size of the BVI‘s economy, if we have full employment of all BVIslanders and we sent out all the persons that come to the BVI and work, the economy will collapse,” Penn stated this week during the budget debate for the upcoming fiscal year.
According to Penn, even though some focus should be placed on transitioning locals in as much areas as possible, that still does not negate the need for external labour to be provided.
Penn argued that businesses in the BVI in particular, require a level of imported skilled labour to be able to function.
As a result of this, he said business owners who have certain specialty areas and need certain skilled labourers require the government to be facilitatory in its actions.
But Penn said the Labour Department has now created additional hardship for persons and businesses to operate in the territory.
While arguing that it takes in excess of three months to process work permit renewals, he questioned how much time it would take for new permits to be processed.
“A business that has been down for 16 to 18 months, trying to get themselves back up on their feet, have to now struggle under the burden of the policy of this administration to get themselves moving,” he stated.
Penn further criticised Labour Minister, Vincent Wheatley, for making comments about ‘flushing out’ certain non-locals in the British Virgin Islands.
But Minister Wheatley, who stated at the time that a task force was being set up for this, was clearly making reference to persons who are living and working illegally in the territory.