BVI News

Implement unemployment benefits and work-for-pay programmes for the jobless — Penn

Opposition Leader Marlon Penn

Leader of the Opposition Marlon Penn has proposed a COVID-19 Strategic Economic Recovery Plan that promotes the implementation of an unemployment benefits scheme, a work-for-pay initiative, and an income support initiative for vulnerable residents.

Penn said he believes it was time for the Opposition to offer a viable plan on the behalf of residents since Andrew Fahie-led government has failed to fully roll out a coherent economic stimulus plan for the BVI.

The Opposition legislator explained that the aforesaid Unemployment Benefits programme would make a pool of funding available during job crises.  

He said the programme would provide income benefits to unemployed persons to enable them to take care of their basic needs.

Components of benefits plan

In outlining how the programme would work, Penn said it would be administered through an existing unit of the Social Security Board once legislative amendments are made.

He said the programme should either receive seed funding through a 75 percent contribution from Social Security and 25 percent from government, or full funding from government altogether.

Penn said this seed funding could be recouped over an extended period of time, through the monthly deductions of employment salaries which should be calculated to a certain percentage.

To be eligible for the programme, Penn recommended that persons should have made at least two years of statutory contributions, during any five-year period, and said that benefits will only last up to a maximum of three months of unemployment.

Income Support Programme for ineligible unemployed persons

In meantime, Penn also proposed an Income Support Programme which will be designed specifically for vulnerable persons who are not eligible for unemployment payments.

“This programme will provide support for the most vulnerable persons in society including the elderly, the indigent, the disabled, single-parent households with a defined number of children and without sufficient means, households with children with special needs,” he stated.

Work-for-Pay initiative

For the Work-for-Pay initiative, Penn said such a programme is critical during times when the local unemployment rate has risen drastically.

The Opposition Leader said some jobs under this initiative could include maintenance of public spaces and roadways, preparation works for the hurricane season, development and maintenance of the BVI’s public infrastructure, and the repairing of public schools.

He said the programme will help the economy transition during the COVID-19 period by putting resident back to work and keeping economic activity present in the BVI.

Penn said he believes residents should be made to spend between three to six months within the programme to maximise employment up until the economy restarts to reopen to the wider world.

Fund programme through budget reprioritisation

He further recommended that the programme be funded through a budget reprioritisation exercise.

“Funding could be reallocated from less prioritised areas and dedicated to this programme which would provide earned income, reduce anticipated levels of free income support, and circulate new monies into the economy,” the Opposition Leader stated.

Bill Support initiative

Additionally, Penn said it is imminent that government present a practical solution for residents as it relates to payment of bills during this COVID-19 period.

“Consideration has to be giving to the landlords and businesses from whom these would be either suspended or forgiven. This would be necessary until the work-for-pay initiative is implemented or employment picks up,” he said.


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  1. Pay for play says:

    Let’s pay everyone who is too tired to show up for work as well..

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  2. Ausar says:

    Great news, Honourable Penn!

    This legislation is quite timely and very much needed!

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  3. At least says:

    At least there is an attempt to put a plan together. It’s better than waiting around for England to cough which will never happen.

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    • Concerned says:

      This is a good motion or suggestion by Hon Penn. People have been contributing a lot in government pause for years through social security ,tax and other ways. Many employees were not paid for at least a whole month during lockdown as a result of COVID-19 and they are faced with payment of utilities and no assistance is rendered from government to cushion the effect. Without contribution from UK ,the government should be able to assist the residents indiscriminately.

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  4. No nonsense says:

    Now that this minister is on the back burner, he operating like he in charge. Mr. Minister say what you like”leave SS alone ” it is there for long term contributors to in heritage. Your government have borrowed tons of $$ from it for roads, electricity engines and the list goes on.. I have given my 25yrs of service and will soon be 65. So here you are talking about 24 months of service. Leave it ALONE!!

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  5. Mmmmmm says:

    Think he is trying to be relevant, keep his party alive and position himself for the next election. We can hear it in your voice. Even you dont believe what you are saying. Other people’s vision that isn’t yours can often be a challange to sell.

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  6. LOL says:

    Well it seems like Marlon has a better plan than kim jong fahie

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  7. Pappa Smurf not as bright as I thought says:

    While i think your drive is admirable you’re NOT as bright as I gave you credit for in the past.

    Let me break it down for you since it appears you have NOT a clue of the constraints businesses on a whole in the BVI face and especially for small businesses this will be the final nail in the coffin.

    For every dollar that a small business makes 26 cents belongs legally to the government under the current legislation.

    Social security = 8.5%
    Income tax = 10%
    NHI = 7.5%
    Total with existing taxes related to payroll = 26%

    Before NHI, Social security had challenges collecting the prescribed 8.5% then the NDP added NHI even though they were advised not to. Bigger countries than the BVI have multiple issues with national health insurance and can’t afford it. How would it have been expected that a country with about 35k persons afford such a lavish bill? Book sense and not a grain of common sense.

    Right now in the great USA, employees prefer to have unemployment benefits versus reduced working hours.

    Immigration and law reform had better be put in place by the current administration if they are going to be proactive and not reactive which unfortunately is the norm here in the BVI. This administration and future administrations had better learn from past mistakes and those of others. There is not enough money and time to make them. Just my 2 cents

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    • @papasmurf says:

      He just a c***an worst than a c***ked hustler. Ndp was voted out for a reason punk. He just prove it.

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    • No Shit Sherlock says:

      How do you expect it to be financed!? There’s no such thing as a free lunch. It’s a benefit to the employee and benefits must be financed. Funny I didn’t hear any of your cult members sqwaking when the Premier was placing a 7% on the poor expatriate community.

      Our Premier is yet to make any statement on this, instead label the people lazy beggars. One day you people will wake up and pray to the great God of the Universe it is not too late you set of sleepers.

    • Interesting says:

      @Pappa Smurf not as bright as I thought: Did he consider that in order to fund an initiative such as this, additional taxes will have to be implemented? The current taxes are much in and of itself. People are already crying for the newly 7cents on the dollar for monies going out via western union/money gram, additional taxes, although maybe beneficial at some point, is not wise. Minimum wage is too low to accommodate any additional taxes.
      I suggest people save whatever little they can for these unfortunate events.

  8. Indigenous Virgin Islander says:

    It is very important that only Indigenous Virgin Islanders get any stimulus monies. All other person who originate from elsewhere should contact their respective country’s foreign ministry on the way forward (notably, a one way ticket out this country). We can’t afford to have all these jobless people here. It will put a strain on our resources.

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    • @Indigenous says:

      If you didn’t have expat workers in the Territory you wouldn’t be able to wipe your a***s Who is going to do the work? YOU? Get real man. You need these people and the services they render. They pay taxes and should also be helped. If you don’t like the outside then eat what you grow, wear what you make and manufacture what you need. In other words, you will starve, go around naked and won’t be able to have a roof over your head.

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    • Indigenous my A$$ says:

      The true indigenous people were killed out by the white colonizers when they came.So its either your forefather is a caucasian slave owner for you to say your indigenous or your dumb as horse $hit. Your a heartless beast to think that the expats who are working here and have been contributing don’t deserve something back. Someone like you will always be out of a job to claim unemployment. Go smell the crack of your A$$ and get sense uncle Tom coon?

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    • Concerned says:

      This is selfishness and xenophobic.All non indigenous residents have contributed to the purse of the government one way or the other

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  9. Diaspora says:

    The Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) is imposing punishing economic hardships on the VI, along with other regional sister countries. The economies tank and unemployment has skyrocketed. Though governments are often caricatured as being useless, incompetent………etc, however, during this pandemic the populace is leaning heavily on government for help. Many regional countries have limited resources to adequately meet the urgent demand. The VI will have to repurpose programmed budget allocations to meet the temporary needs.

    The programmes proposed by Hon Marlon Penn (R8) closely models two US New Deal programmes, ie, Works Management Association (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps(CCC). No need to reinvent the wheel if there are programmes that were previously employed and worked. Let’s geh dun!

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  10. Well says:

    Good job. We have something to work with. At least it’s a start? Opposition stood up.

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    • Crooks says:

      The National Democratic Party ideology is always to divide and conquer and ruin the people after they con the people while they fatten them and them cronies pocket. Tell them to take them plan and shove it up their political g** hole.

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  11. E. Leonard says:

    The Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is the most destabilizing event to hit the VI and other developing countries and indeed the globe since WWII. And without urgent help from developing countries, the VI and other developing countries could be facing a humanitarian crisis. A crisis upon a crisis. Why should rich countries help poor countries?

    Well, a case of Coronavirus anywhere is threat to countries everywhere. The world cannot standby and let this pandemic further exposed the global inequality between rich and poor countries. After WWII, the US Marshall Plan bailed out Western European countries, including the UK. Of the approx $17B US Taxpayer bail out, the UK received approximately 26%. As advocated in other posts, the UK needs to craft a Marshal Plan-styled package for its Overseas Territories(OT). This assistance is needed urgently.

    In perusing the proposals by Hon Penn, they seem to align closely with Franklyn Delano Roosevelt (FDR) two Great Depression (1933-) Era New Deal programs, i.e., Work Project Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

    The WPA program hired millions to construct buildings and other facilities,i.e., schools, hospitals…etc,to construct roads…..etc. And the CCC focused on environmental projects, i.e., parks, trails, forests, flood control projects, historical sites…..etc. New Deal companion program to WPA and CCC is the Public Works Administration (PWA). i.e., a major construction entity.

    Moreover, though there is no one way to address the VI basic needs(food, shelter, housing, medical, transportation and communications), economic, unemployment…….etc during this pandemic, the proposals are but one of many good starting points to address the temporary needs. Nevertheless, whatever program is used it is needed now.

    • Class Mate says:

      There is an old saying that the Irish remembers but the English forgets. The UK seems to forget that US taxpayers bail it out after WWII. Sad. But the BVI is not getting a wooden nickel from the UK. To the rich countries, little dots like the BVI appear invisible and dispensable.They no longer serve the strategic needs of the colonialists, imperialists…….etc.

      Further, the BVI cannot lean on the region for much help either, for it too has its hands out. If there were any doubts before that real regional unity is important, this period clearly and forcefully demonstrates it.

      Thus, the BVI must look inward and employ some self-help with its limited and scarce resources to help the masses. Whatever alphabet soup name programs are tagged with, there are many miles of roads to maintain and construct, many square feet of needed buildings to repair and construct, many beaches, parks, rec facilities ……etc to clean up, nuff debris to pick up, nuff vegetation to cut, nuff ghuts to clean……..etc. However, as Quiet Warrior noted, government temporary employment effort is not sustainable. So employed workers should not see it as a long term effort. Tuff times ahead.

    • @E. Leonard says:

      @E. Leonard, so what in Hon Penn wants to benchmark the New Deal’s WPA and CCC. Dem man want wuk.

  12. WOW says:

    All this is just politics.

  13. Bisa says:

    The more I listen to some of talk shows and read some the blogs , I am realizing that we have a whole lot selfish, greedy, and inconsiderate person in the BVI. Examples:
    Some very greedy business People who do not want the borders to open because they have gotten use in the last couple of months to holding BV Islanders hostages to their prices, I could name a few , some sell computers and one has a large super store in fish bay, and don’t talk about the super markets, they are actually turning straw into gold.
    Then there those civil servants who get paid whether they work or not, what happens to all those small businesses in Anegada, Jost Van Dykes and Virgin Gorda whose business is totally dependent on the tourists dollar and have mortgages, how long can they hold on. All I can see is a lot of people hurting and the government continues to fiddle, all the hero worshiping by government supporters is not going to be able to stave off the economic pandemic that is coming. People it is time to organize and not go to your death like lemmings.

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  14. That says:

    Is crazy. Must have at least 2 years of contributions. What happened to persons who were employed last year? Oops! No eligible. No money for you. Better plan please. Wheel and come again.

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  15. Quiet Warrior says:

    Covid-19 pandemic is an unplanned and unexpected event that is starting to inflict severe hardships and severe pain on countries and their populations across the globe. The hardship and pain will be harsher on small poor countries, territories ……..etc., ie Caribbean, Asian-Pacific countries, African Countries………etc.

    Populations struggling and wealthy countries slow in helping, the local hard hit populations of these struggling countries are looking to their governments for help. Economies tanking, governments up and down the Caribbean from Bahamas to Guyana to Barbados to Jamaica to Belize are struggling to meet the loud and growing demands.

    Many of these countries lack the resources to address the large and increasing demand adequately but their populations expect them to act. With little resources, governments providing help will not be sustainable. In any event, they must leverage their scarce resources to provide the most resources to the most people for as long as possible. This will be task that will require skilled planning, compassion, fairness, equity, means testing, and nimble execution. Will everyone be happy and satisfied ? No. However, government cannot fiddle while their populations go hungry.

    Moreover, the VI is in the midst of a perfect storm, ie, Covid-19, tanking economy and a hurricane season, so everyone, the territory must UNITE to grapple with this storm. It is not time to play partisan politics to see who can exact political mileage out of this perfect storm. There will be time for politics. Government and Opposition should be at a common table plotting a strategy to get safely out of this perfect storm. A pandemic should cause politicians to put politics aside and unite for the public good. In a war, a country unite to fight and defeat the enemy(s). Be safe!

  16. The Nation says:

    Nice to see Hon Fahie led VIP Administration has got the NDP actually proposing plans to try to help the people of this Territory for a change. In any case I believe it is high time the Government revise the Social Security and NHI Schemes to include UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS…the percentage we already pay to social security can remain the same…because social security has been obviously working with a massive surplus over the years why the Government keep dipping into their funds all the time.

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