A mere two days after rolling out plans to dramatically increase work permit fees next month, Deputy Premier Dr. Kedrick Pickering seemed to walk back his announcement on Thursday night.

Dr. Pickering (R-D7), who also serves as the minister for natural resources and labour, said near the end of Thursday’s House of Assembly sitting that he had received numerous calls and letters from major companies expressing concern “about the implementation of the fees.”

The deputy premier’s plan would have raised fees as much as ten times for the highest earning expatriates, from $1,000 to $10,000.

However, it appears the business community’s response spurred him to give the idea some additional thought.

“We are implementing the fees mid-financial year for most of the businesses and in some cases it is going to be a tremendous burden on the businesses and I think that it is something that we need to look at and make some decisions about,” Dr. Pickering said. “But to reassure businesses in the country: We have noted your concerns and it is something that we are going to review and take into consideration.”

The deputy premier had planned to initiate the fee increase on May 15.


The sixth sitting of the third HOA concluded on Thursday evening shortly after Dr. Pickering’s statement. 

During the sitting, lawmakers passed the Environment Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act, 2017; the BVI Ports Authority (Amendment) Act, 2016; the Financial Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act, 2017; the Coroners Act, 2017; the Proceeds of Criminal Conduct (Amendment) Act, 2017; the Drug Trafficking Offences (Amendment) Act, 2017; and the Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) (Amendment) Act, 2017.

Additionally, Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie (R-D1) asked Premier Dr. Orlando Smith (R-at-large) about the proposed Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport expansion project, the status of government’s contract with BVI Airways, a $25 million line-of-credit facility government approved last year, and the status of the audit on the Tortola Pier Park.

He also questioned the premier about the construction of new classrooms at Elmore Stoutt High School and Bregado Flax Educational Centre.

Tabled documents

During the sitting, Dr. Smith tabled the report of the Auditor General for the year ending Dec. 31, 2010; the Report of the Auditor General for the year ending Dec. 31, 2011; and the 2015 Central Statistics Office Departmental Report.

Health and Social Development Minister Ronnie Skelton (R-at large) tabled the BVI Health Services Authority Revenue and Expenditure Budget for the Financial Year 2016/2017, as well as the National Information Systems for Health Policy.


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