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Pickering against ‘burdensome’ work permit fees

“We are not trying to create burdens for business and we don’t want to make it burdensome for businesses.” Dr PICKERING

While stating that the government is not trying to increase the burden on businesses in the British Virgin Islands, Minister of Labour Dr Kedrick Pickering indicated that no new date has been set for implementation of the new work permit fee structure.

He noted that the new fee and fee increases were to be implemented on May 15, but that date has been missed because Government is still reviewing the fee structure it previously announced.

“I don’t want to say it (implementation of the new fees) is going to happen tomorrow or next week, but we are working diligently to make sure we can get it done.”

Dr Pickering reiterated that the review and delay follow complaints from several businesses, adding that Government is also mindful that it recently placed new charges on businesses.

He noted the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme that took effect in January 2016, as well as the increase in Hotel Accommodation Tax from seven to 10 percent in February this year.

“We are very mindful that companies have also had to make adjustments recently for NHI. We are mindful that people in the hospitality industry – the issue of increase in room charges and other hotel charges,” the minister said.

“So we are not trying to create burdens for business and we don’t want to make it burdensome for businesses. So we are reviewing the implementation process with respect to the work permit fees.”

Dr Pickering, who is also the territory’s deputy premier, said the Government is one that ‘listens to the public’. “There was public consultation on the matter (regarding the new work permit fee structure) and there is a general recognition that the fees need to be increased,” he added.

Dr Pickering also elaborated on an announcement he had made in April regarding complaints received from several companies about the proposed fee increases.

Some companies are not only concerned that the new fees would have been implemented in the middle of their financial year.

According to Dr Pickering, companies also want some of the proposed fee increases to be reconsidered.

“The second point that we were asked to consider was the percentage increase for some work permits. So we have delayed the implementation of the fee increases to review the concerns raised by the various companies that have written to us and called us and have spoken to us,” Dr Pickering further said in a video posted by the Government Information Service.

In April, Dr Pickering announced the new work permit fee structure, saying: “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.”

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 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.

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