BVI News

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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  1. Finally! says:

    Someone who understands that actions have consequences! If only common sense could be bottled and sold – Doc you would never need to work again.

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  2. Take a seat! says:

    I am tired of politicians who try to capitalize on certain things just to regain political power. They use this same expat vs local argument privately during elections to get votes without caring about the damage they do to the society. When Dr. Pickering was on the opposition he talked about where you are born is where you are from. I could hear his voice loudly and passionately saying it. I have one question then why is it you leave the NDP when they got a leader who born here but parents ain’t from here? Dr. Pickering you have the same b———r so I don’t think you should be the poster boy for this kind of conversation. I know you want to get back in power but have a seat on this topic please.

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  3. Styles says:

    It takes a forward looking mind to grasp what Pickering is saying. Unfortunately Fahie, who recently was caught in many lies, does not have any idea about consequences and future planning.

    Fahie is a short term thinker without vision.

    First chance we get we need to vote him out. Sure he has to look out for we the people. But long term he is crippling our economy. The work permit holders will be gone. But so will be our economy.

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  4. Fake says:

    This man would have done the same thing so I don’t know why he on here talking…..oh yes! He want to get back in. The day anything to get back in season is here. #f—person

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  5. Anon says:

    well said

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  6. Truth says:

    I am a work permit exemption holder who is married to a Belonger and I am currently barred from returning with our minor children because I can’t travel with them. I want to get home to my husband. Our family is being kept apart because of this policy. The exorbitant cost of quarantining is also prohibitive because we simply cannot afford it.

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  7. Reality Check says:

    The shipping companies have seen a dramatic increase in the shipping out of household effects by people who have given up on this government and the territory. My child is a Belonger, spouse a work permit holder, own a business with seven employees. They are stuck out of the territory because the spouse can’t come back and will likely be closing their business and shipping their household items out, leaving a local without a renter in a high end villa.
    This government has no plan going forward and the territory is going to suffer for it. The world’s economy is in recession and we are quickly approaching a point from which we likely won’t recover for many years. Other territories are welcoming residents who can quarantine themselves and we have plenty of villas at which the same could be happening, allowing outside income back into our economy. A closed economy cannot survive for long before it runs out of money with government taking a cut off of the top.
    Our representatives need to give us a plan for going forward now!!

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  8. Opportunist says:

    Tell us why you leave the NDP? You want to make the VIP look bad now because you want to get back in power? You leave the NDP because Myron who has expat parents came the party head? What makes you any different?

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  9. Thank you Dr. Pickering says:

    Finally someone sensible responding to this crisis. The VIP government is clearly not able to manage this island nation..

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  10. Tortolian says:

    ah da boy …Pickering making sense a lot of …. the only thing I would say different is that “persons who have lived here for 15 years or more for all intents and purposes… this is their home, Not 20 years”

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  11. Wow says:

    Well said and one would’ve thought this is simple common sense. How can you make such drastic decisions before reviewing the potential impacts. Yes we want more BVIslanders employed etc. but the reality on the ground is that because of the economy we have, there are lots of immigrant workers and that cannot change overnight. You cannot keep out a big chunk of your workers and brag that the economy is bouncing back, that is just ludicrous.

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  12. Reasonable Man says:

    Dr. Pickering is absolutely correct.

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  13. observer says:

    excellent point!!!
    I am sure everyone reading this doesn’t want to be a support mechanism for wide open social support and an ultimate drain on finite government cash resources. However, entire economies are reliant on foreigners. If work permit holders & non permimted residents have the ability to support them selves, then by not allowing them you are reducing their potential contribution via spending to the economy. All of this of course has additional repercussions on families which will ultimately be a double whammy.

    Just imagine how much better off the economy would be tomorrow if say there were another 2000 people in BVI that could support themselves (covid free of course). Now what if each of those 2000 people spent just $5,000, over the next 6 months??

    Ill help you $ 10 million dollars currently not in the BVI economy

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  14. Well said says:

    This is absolutely right.

    Excluding work permit holders in an attempt to secure more jobs for Belongers or forcing non-belongers to pay crazy quarantine fees to make a quick buck helps nobody in the long run. All this will do is harm the economy further which will negatively effect everyone.

    It is very important to ensure that BVIslanders and Belongers have the best opportunities in their own country. But attempting to achieve this through such blunt methods is lazy, ineffective and ultimately more damaging than doing nothing.

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  15. @ Finally says:

    Agree with you.

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  16. FACTS says:

    Only on the media sites does the word “indefinitely” appear at no time did the government use this term.
    Now this l***r of a minister wants to stir the pot with words from a news site and not the government.

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  17. The Nation says:

    That was point exactly…some exclusions may be a breach of the constitutional right to family life. Fact is they need to consider the expat applications on a case by case basis just like they did for the belongers.

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  18. The Nation says:

    Premier you have a heart for the people…I can’t say that about some of the people around you…follow what the Lord tells you to do in this situation. May He give you wisdom at this time.

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  19. Nastiness says:

    Easy now picko boy it just a hold on new permit and transfers. In your time in labour many employer and employee suffer under you. You know nothing about human rights when some wicked employer block people permit because they don’t want the employee to prosper anywhere else. Picko made decisions as minister of natural resource and labour for friend friend and votes. Pickering always talk good but people live a different reality with he in the legislature.

    Vincent Wheatley is not without scorn. He act nice but him treat other Caribbean nationals like garbage behind closed door. He is only for indigenous at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter how long you here or what you do.

    Them two politicians are twooo face but GOD! Politicians are the lowest class of work. If anybody out there is a janitor, garbage collector, waitress or whatever hold your head up. You have a better job than the politicians and you got you conscience and the dignity. You no save no day picko.

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  20. :) says:

    We understand that the issue is difficult on expats but for those with jobs it is only a temporary measure. Let the government do their job. Not too long ago BVIslanders were also locked out and they waited patiently until the borders were open. They complained but didn’t had a barrage of personal attacks on government or the BVI unlike what expats are doing. On every forum there are insults directed at the BVI, their people and the Premier but still the same ones doing the insulting still persist in trying to come in the BVI. BVInews should start blocking comments as well as the insults are further causing more division. Yahoo comments were so filled with hate and racism and they have blocked commenting while they review how to go forward.

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  21. vip heckler says:

    Another party would’ve handled things different

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  22. we strong says:

    so all these ministers and none of them saw those impact this policy would cause??????

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  23. Stainlessbloke says:

    Agree @nastiness. While is saying the right stuff he looks and sounds like playing politics.

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  24. what? says:

    You say BVIslanders waited patiently… They then came in for a free holiday even though they dont pay any taxes here.

    Apples and oranges.

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  25. Lodger says:

    Surely it cant be 2000? Someone please tell us if its 5,10,50 or 500. It could be a storm in a teacup.

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  26. politics says:

    dr pickering shame on you you really want a breakout in this country you want to make more money andleave the people to suffer what the hell are you thinking sir i respect you but i think you have taken this thing too far protect snd look out for our people the cubans are here so we might take the chance to send you back to cuba so you can feel how if cuba will relly want you stop being so COCKIE YOu will not walk that legco road right now if that is what you are looking at so cool out

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  27. and the list goes on.... says:

    The administration of US President Donald Trump is considering a measure to block US citizens and permanent residents from returning home if they are suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus, a senior US official confirmed to Reuters.

    Effective March 24, foreigners who are Costa Rican residents and leave the country will automatically lose their legal status, making them ineligible for re-entry for the time being, though they will not have to restart the residency process.

    25 Jun 2020 | 05:45 PM UTC

    Saudi Arabia: Foreign residents to remain banned from returning until end of COVID-19 crisis June 24 /update 40
    Saudi Arabia News Alert
    Foreign residents to remain banned from returning until end of COVID-19 crisis, authorities announce on June 24; follow government directives

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  28. Quarantine says:

    The problem is how quarantine is being handled:
    1) Security companies APPARENTLY charge on a per head basis even when one security guard oversees several or many persons.
    2) Security guards are paid $10/hour and the security companies charge over $400/day ($17/hour) per person.
    3) Security guards haven’t been paid yet for working for the last 2 months APPARENTLY because Government hasn’t paid the security companies yet.
    This information is from someone who worked as a security guard and is still waiting to be paid….

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  29. Smh says:

    I agree, I don’t understand why all of a sudden all those former ministers want to say something on the media to try and make themselves look good by getting comments. You can go and talk to the premier about your concerns and what you feel will be a better out look on your end. No need to keep coming on the media everyday with this, I wonder how they would have handled this situation if they was in power. Let the current Premier do his job and stop bashing him and making locals look and feel like they’re incompetent.

    WP holders I understand you’re frustrated but let’s see what the outcome will be, I’m pretty sure soon enough those with valid jobs will be allowed in.

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  30. Kudos says:

    I dont think these people understand the damage they are causing. But how could they. NOT 1 of them suffered any reduction in income or delay in salary.

    Instead of creating opportunity in an honest manner. they causing people to get fired so a local could get a job they dont want and will not keep for more than 6 months, Putting a business owner in jeopardy.

    I think any local who get a job via labor department should have similar rules to work permit holders specifically they must stay with the same employer for 1yr or no further help from labor department for 1yr

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  31. meshson says:

    Until now there is a lot Morons using the internet…learn how to count how much cases in PR,USVI and other Caribbean Island then think and ask yourself it worth to close the border? Long Live VIP thanks for protecting this beautiful island.Close is Close.

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  32. limejuice says:

    Thank you, well said.

  33. yolo says:

    I know many of these comments are expats comments i know you are upset of the premier. But he is looking out for his people and i understand. It has been a problem for many years that our local people find it hard to get a job because they are full with expat. Yes i know locals like to boast there self saying I’m from here and they like to show up late for work. But not all of them are the same its like finding a needle in a haystack. The good ones are willing to do the work, get trained and do there part to make the business successfull. what i suggest what business can do is create a web site that aloud people to fish for local and and rate you employee…. example if they late a lot it would be on there profile ….not a team player put it on there profile ect. yes you would have to get there permission…EASY they want the job they have to sign. So don’t give up on the premier or the people of the bvi. i see his forward planning and so can you if to stop think and see.

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  34. local says:


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  35. :) says:

    Just have some patience. That’s all we are asking for. If you have an existing job you will be allowed into the territory at some point. Complaining daily and insulting government and people of the BVI is a terrible way to try to enter the BVI. All the negativity will only make things worse for future work permit holders and renewals. When it’s time to renew the ones who were bold and negative on Facebook may be subject to extra scrutiny because of your actions. Everybody that is affected has a reason to be upset about the situation but this is just a short term setback. It is silly to think that the same government that approved your work permit don’t want you here. The same government that fast tracked residency and belongership for over 1500 expats despite protest from some locals. Things could have been handled a lot better but that don’t give anybody reason to start being ungrateful and negative especially if you still want to work in the BVI.

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  36. National says:

    The Government is not banning work permit holders indefinitely. Work Permit holders will be allowed in once the economy picks up. It would be interesting to know the number of work permit holders effected by this decision and the sectors in which they are employed. For example, why would you allow crew members of charter companies in when its in the middle of the hurricane season knowing the borders are unlikely to be opened to tourists before end of October or just before the beginning of the traditional tourist season? The decision taken by the Government is sensible given the circumstances. what are work permit holders coming to do if there are no work?

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  37. No more cost says:

    The government has hired whole hotels and apartment blocks for quarantine and hired them for some months. These are mostly empty at the moment, but the government is still paying for them. So it would cost nothing to bring back some deserving WP holders apart from their food costs which the government lady said was $50 per day. I guess they could pay that.

  38. Amen says:

    Amen Dr. Pickering. Finally some sense. Thank you for not being afraid to speak out. This current administration is one big faux pas. Their egos will be their downfall.

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  39. lol says:

    This decision is very poor. They will get a proper response in 2023.

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  40. @ :) says:

    so much for freedom of speech, what you are saying is if you commented negative to this decission and the outrages costs for the quarantine on facebook you will face consequences! And to the other person who claims these comments are only made by expats, you are wrong, I am a Belonger and a lot of other BVIlanders are in full agreement.

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  41. Nelle says:

    This is the truth. While I beleive that any government has a responsibility to secure the best interest of it’s citizens first, the BVI is placed in an awkward position.

    Here’s why:
    The economy thrives on expat labour, it’s actually a major contributing factor to the GDP. I believe the government should release the figures that the Labour Department makes annually.
    First there is the work permit fee, then there are the medical fees. Those who come with families, each person pays a $1000 bond. This is just beginning. There is rent, groceries, bills, shopping, school fees (our children rarely get accepted into public schools) and if we want to send our money home there is a brand new increased tax we have to pay.

    And even with all this we can never really call the BVI home because we can’t easily buy land or open a business. I don’t think now is the time to write about that process.

    Most of us just keep it quiet and go about our business. Most Locals say, if you don’t like it then leave. Guess what, not everyone stays here, most people just pass through. The same way Americans go backpacking in Europe or the same way BVIslanders go to the States for six months at a time and expect to be treated with respect and dignity. The world at large is a free place and we can all travel and go anywhere we want to.

    Consider this the next time you tell someone to keave. You are actually sabotaging your own country. Because somewhere in the world there is aan ad from the BVI inviting persons to come to paradise.

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  42. @National says:

    It’s either you all are heard of hearing, can’t read of something really wrong with your brains. If 60% of your workforce are work permit holders, how the F*** is the economy going to pick up if businesses have key employees that cannot return to the BVI? You guys are so blinded by political leaning that you cannot comprehend the magnitude of what is happening. Nobody is saying open the gates and let everyone in. The same system that is working for Belonger returns can work for permit holders return.

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  43. But says:

    Its the truth the man saying.

  44. Local BVISLANDER says:

    All of you shut the f$ck up, ALL these politicians in the BVI are one in the same (many faces) and they lie like dogs
    Poly means people tics means parasites and that is ALL local BVISLANDERS. I have 12 apartments being rented by expats and only 3 is occupied because they were locked out and I still have my mortgages to pay, I never had no complaints from anyone to pay their rent,does this government had the locals best interest at heart? I beg to differ, who is going to pay our bills? All the locals who wrte rented gone back home in their parents house since Covid, damn nasty lazy asses, these people are here building up this Territory yet we running them,whenvthey all leave and go we will see how fast we’re going to fall.
    This Territory needs a category 10 hurricane in a quick and hurry.As a local I’m tired of my own kind.

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  45. --- says:

    So many of the responses supporting the current government point out that this is a temporary measure and will be lifted when the economy recovers/Belongers have had a chance to find work.
    What about those WP holders that are waiting to return to work in niche fields, where there are no Belongers to take the work. Or those in international business with many years business where not only is there no Belonger able to fill the role but keeping the WP holder out HURT the economy as the international business will suffer.

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  46. 2cents says:

    If the keep up this lockdown going there will be nothing left to reopen, just the corpses of all the dead businesses. If gov’t is not taking in revenue and people are out of work soon they will spend through cash reserves and then what? You can’t borrow or print money like large economies. Need to have sensible plans. Covid will be wandering the earth for years to come, but so will other diseases. Have incomers produce a negative test within 72 hours of visit. Test randomly at the borders. Is this a 100% solution, of course not but isn’t 99% good enough for a disease that has a 99.8% survival rate?

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  47. GTFOH says:

    Lol,I don’t know who you think you fooling with that ridiculous cock and bull story. 12 Apts and just coincidentally 9 of the tenants happen to be out of the territory at the same time BS. Then you have an apt. but want a category 10 hurricane to come and destroy your apt. and kill the 3 tenants that left. Dude get a life loser.

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  48. Me says:

    … bumpy bumpy just like east end roads no wonder he never try fix them for the years he been the rep

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  49. Thoughtful Sailor says:

    Justice delayed is justice denied.

  50. No nonsense says:

    Follow the link! 1986:THE ACT
    In 1986,Pharmaceutical companies extorted the US…

  51. Enough of the politics says:

    Let the government do their job in peace.

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  52. down2earth says:

    Premier and Minister for Labour, do not cause a breakdown in society. That entails requesting persons on work permit who are unemployed to leave. How are they going to survive with no income? Persons need to understand that having a work permit is a privilege and not a right – regardless of the number of years. Please research Turks and Caicos.

  53. Musa says:

    Dr Pickering will be back and he say if the boss call him he ready to work

  54. Moo moo says:

    Reap what you sow. If you plant seed in spring, it will grow in summer. If you don’t allow people to plant the seed then what harvest will you get.

  55. BVIslander says:

    I feel your pain, but I DO NOT agree with you wishing a category 10 Hurricane on your own country or anyone else’s for that matter. Innocent people like yourself could be killed. Still try to think rationally. Pray, Prayer works!

  56. Human says:

    Undoubtedly, the British Virgin Islands are currently confronted with numerous economic and social challenges which require urgent and prudent interventions in the interest of the society.However, we need to be wary that our response is not void of humanness. We need balance. On one hand, based on the history of the BVI a large number of indigenous people find themselves marginalized ..unemployed and feeling less than human at home. On the other hand, thousands of regional folk with work permits and exemptions find them now unable to be reunited with their loved ones in the BVI and the situation appears indefinite. Hence children patented in the BVI to folk from other Caribbean countries are experiencing the trauma of having to live without the presence of their parents in their lives. At best the decision to use COVID 19 as an excuse to keep persons with work permits and exemptions out of the BVI appears ad hoc and insensitive. It brings back memories of Idi Amin’s expulsion of Indians from Uganda some years ago. This is not a legacy the BVI wants to embrace. Indeed we are faced with challenges that appear insurmountable, but insensitivity will curse rather than bless us. We need to carefully put together an informed task force that can offer us a more humane solution.The current measures appear frighteningly Amin-like and repressive.

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  57. focus on brains and eyes says:

    Look at western union and money grams now,not much is sending out money. They people to is
    trying to save a dollar and send in other ways
    with out tax collected.

  58. Truth be told says:

    Honestly the Dr. Has proved a valid point. Listen and wake up people and I mean everyone local and expat etc. We complain and criticize the government for the negligence and I dont support that at all. They also just trying protect there own people in the BVI like any other country would do for there people. We got to respect that tho it’s hard. They still need to realize that the way they go about these measures are wrong and ignorant. Do the right thing people have families and jobs bills to pay for I’ve got my family here struggling my mother and sister and I should be there working to help them because it’s hard not just for us but for everyone whose like me out there and trapped from entering the Bvi. The government should reevaluate the cost of quarantine and put secure measures to allow people to come in to keep everyone safe even tho its strick measures people will need to abid and still make a living.

  59. Truth be told says:

    Another thing the BVI is made up of 60%of permit holders and they depend on tourism. permit holders are all immigrants or as the the Bvi islanders call us down island people. (No offense) anyhow I believe we all should stop the discrimination and insults both islanders and expats. We are all one people and everyone with there negative comments whether its towards the government to expat to Bvi islanders it doesnt profit us nothing. then we all lose some how or the other. You guys are grown men and women most educated or professional.. we should work together as one. Unity is key and is a start progressing, moving forward in this epidemic. Negative vibes attract negativity. If hurricane Irma didnt teach us anything and it clearly didnt allow this covid19 to teach us remind us and take hid this time, honestly bvi is our home and home to others that comes to dwell and make a life her for themselves and the maths if all or majority of work permit with no status went back home or abroad and tourism hasn’t kick in how would the country survive? 90% of businesses employees are permit holders some all are. How they going make money how the landlords pay there mortgages? How the locals sell the products to earn an income which some solely depend on. How will the government run the country if your main economic trend is down. How will restuarant bars make it? True some are capable and financially backed but the majority will suffer? Mama always told me think before I act. CONSIDER THE outcome of your plans before establishing them. Dont do things spitefully to the people to us. As the word of the lord said Condem not and you will not be condem” do unto others as you’ll like others do unto you”.. making expats suffer will only lead to your own suffering. Be wise and make the right decisions to help everyone because we all in this together. God bless!!

  60. Jane Doe says:

    How can a ex minister raise these issues when he was the minister of immigration for years and didn’t fix any of these issues he raised.

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