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Gov’t to review work permit fee issue amid outrage

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By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff

Minister of Labour Dr Kedrick Pickering has promised to review aspects of the new work permit structure, which includes a new fee as well as fee hikes that are scheduled to take effect on May 15.

Dr Pickering told the House of Assembly minutes to 9pm on Thursday (April 20) that a number of business operators have sent him written concerns mainly about implementation of the fees.

They have complained that the implementation is being done in the middle of their financial year, said the labour minister.

He noted that he is yet to fully discuss the matter with other members of Cabinet.

But Dr Pickering has reassured the business community that its concerns will be taken into consideration.

“I have already had a number of letters with respect to the work permit fees that we have recommended to increase – a number of calls and a number of letters written by major companies in the country advising us about the implementation of the fees. What they have said, and I want to assure them – because I am sure that my colleagues will understand this and we will all look at it again – that we are implementing the fees mid-financial year for most of the businesses, and in some cases it is going to be a tremendous burden on the businesses. I think that it is something that we need to look at and make some decisions about,” Dr Pickering further explained.

“But, [I want] to reassure the businesses in the country that we have noted your concern and it is something that we are going to review and take into consideration.”

Dr Pickering, in announcing the new fee structure on Tuesday, said Government held consultations with various stakeholders prior to making the changes.

“Under the new fee structure, special consideration has been made for domestic workers. They will pay 1 percent of their annual salary. For other workers, the fee for earnings up to $25,000 per annum will be charged at 3 percent,” Dr Pickering announced on Tuesday.

He continued: “The fee for earnings from $25,001 to $50,000 [per annum] will be calculated at 5 percent.”

“And the fee for earnings above $50,001 [per annum] will be calculated at 7 percent. Earnings in excess of $150,000 will also be charged at 7 percent,” added Dr Pickering.

He further explained that there is a limit to the amount of work permit fee any one person will be required to pay. “There will be a fee cap at $10,000 which means that no work permit will cost in excess of 10,000.”

The labour minister, on Tuesday, also announced that persons will be required to pay a brand new fee when submitting a work permit application. “The new fee structure also introduces a $50 application fee, in addition to the $75 fee that is currently charged for the issuance of the work permit card,” he said.

Dr Kedrick Pickering

Dr Kedrick Pickering

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