Kudos to the government for finally launching an online work permit system, which has been urgently needed for many years.
Now leaders must stick to the plan, ensuring that the Department of Labour and Workforce Development has the necessary support to smoothly implement the initiative and efficiently iron out any kinks.
Ultimately, applying for a new work permit should be a quick and easy online process, and applying to renew one should be even easier.
As officials noted during the launch ceremony on Monday, the online system should bring many benefits, freeing up Labour employees and eliminating the need for work-permit holders to waste precious hours waiting in line to submit and pick up their documents.
It should also greatly speed up the unnecessarily lengthy application process. Ultimately, we see no reason why new work permits shouldn’t be fully processed through Labour and Immigration within a month or less, renewals within a week.
In a territory where more than half the workforce comes from abroad, such efficiency should be a no-brainer.
As an example, one need only consider the Cayman Islands, where labour and immigration applications are a one-stop shop: New workers complete them in advance, and they receive the necessary permits on arrival.
As a competing financial services centre and tourism destination, the VI should offer the same, as noted often in recent years by advisors including an expensive financial services consultancy carried out in 2015 by McKinsey & Company.
Once the online work permit system is humming, it should also provide an example for the rest of the public service.
Leaders, after all, have promised to automate processes across the board under a raft of e-government legislation expected to take effect soon.
These reforms are urgent. If the territory expects to remain competitive in the global marketplace, it must catch up to the rest of the world and get in step with the digital age.
The online work permit system is a good start.