A review of belongership and residency is complete, and a report will be tabled in the House of Assembly soon, according to Premier’s Office Permanent Secretary Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe.
The update was one of several provided by Ms. Stoutt-Igwe and Deputy Governor’s Office Permanent Secretary Sharleen DaBreo-Lettsome during a livestreamed discussion on the Commission of Inquiry recommendations relating to public sector reforms.
“The recommendation about the granting of residence and belonger status — that review has been completed,” Ms. Stoutt-Igwe said during the Aug. 30 update, which lasted about an hour. “It has been submitted to the Cabinet and will be tabled in the House of Assembly in the not-too-distant future. So work has been done on that, and there is going to be stakeholder consultation on that coming up soon.”
Cabinet appointed Kedrick Malone to carry out the report in January in keeping with a recommendation from the COI report.
The review addresses a controversial issue.
In recent months, Governor John Rankin has criticised the pace of the government’s progress in addressing a “backlog” of more than 2,000 residency and belonger applications, but Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley has described his message as “misleading.”
In July, Dr. Wheatley said that most of those “backlogged” applications were relatively recent: Only 245 belongership applications and 469 residency applications had been outstanding prior to June 2022, according to the premier.
During last week’s discussion, the permanent secretaries also listed other reforms that several government agencies have undertaken since the COI recommendations were published in May 2022 along with an approximately two-year timetable for completion.
Ms. DaBreo-Lettsome, however, claimed that many of the recommendations came with “unrealistic deadlines.”
Some of them will require five to ten years to implement, she said, adding that government is negotiating with the United Kingdom on the timeframes for implementation.
“The consultants who are brought in to undertake the evaluations … have presented quite a bit of recommendations, and the reports that I’ve seen — they’re not new recommendations; they are things that we know,” she said. “It’s just now what the COI has done is put those things right in focus and [push] us to getting those things done.”
She added that some reforms were already under way before the COI, including the launching of the Public Sector Transformation Programme.
The permanent secretaries also provided an update on the Constitutional Review Commission, which is about 70 percent finished with its report and recently got a six-month extension from Cabinet.
She added that government is aiming to provide digitised services, including online updates on work permit applications and access to government services from personal computers and phones.
“The whole issue of reforming the public services means that there were issues, and people wanted to have more openness to government’s business, to how information is shared, to how we consult, to how we engage the public,” Ms. DaBreo-Lettsome said.
Host Angela Burns said that the livestreamed “Table Talks” will be held every two weeks and will feature topics centred around improving the delivery standard for government services.