Premier Andrew Fahie has insisted that the BVI‘s robust economy is partly to blame for the sluggish turnout of new work permits and renewals from the Labour Department.
Addressing reporters at a press conference last week, Premier Fahie stated: “One of the areas that has created some of the [work permit] backlog that is not said, has been some of the robust way that the economy is rebounding.”
The Premier said there has been an unprecedented number of work permit applications into the Labour Department. However, he also said the government is in the process of discussions on how to arrive at new policies and new strategies to address the issue.
The Premier added: “It’s a good-bad problem to have. It’s bad because you don’t want businesses waiting that long. You want to make sure though, on behalf of the public officers, that due diligence is done. But at the same time, too, it shows that the number of applications has exceeded expectations which shows that it is a good sign for the economy. But now the systems in place have to make some more adjustments.”
He said these adjustments need to be done to expedite certain things and to allow for more efficiency without compromising the integrity of the process.
The Premier declined to indicate whether it was a fact that the Labour Department had indeed been stricken by staffing issues.
Pressed on whether the department was actually in crisis as stated by the Labour Minister, Premier Fahie said every government will have some area of concern.
“It’s a crisis that has come out of many different angles,” the Premier said. “It’s not just the angle of staffing, it’s not just the angle of the permits that are coming in. The major concern has now been because of how the economy continues now to blossom. More and more businesses are putting in for more work permits than was previously anticipated which is a plus for the economy.”
He noted the discussions were being had with the Deputy Governor on how to shift resources from other areas of the public service to the Labour Department.
“Whenever you sign up for the public service unless you sign up for specific jobs, one of the things in the [Labour] Code states that you have to be willing to be flexible to work in other areas,” the Premier said.
He added that a pre-COVID-19 mindset could not remain in place. He urged that innovation should prevail instead to arrive at solutions.
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