Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley spoke at length at the House of Assembly on Monday on the importance of sustainable development both as it applies to environmental and immigration policy.
He said he plans to introduce a new beach policy, environmental bill, marine survey, and marine and land estate policy.
“What will future generations think of us if you continue to pollute our water, our lands, and our air?” he asked. “What will they say if we continue to fill in ponds, destroy mangroves and poison our oceans? These are serious concerns that we have to tackle and resolve, and that we will do.”
He also described labour and immigration reform as inseparable from environmental, cultural and educational concerns as they relate to the sustainable development of the Virgin Islands.
With birth rates on the decline and more belongers moving abroad, he added, the VI needs imported labour to fill the job market.
“We have to accept that a temporary migrant worker will be a permanent fixture in BVI society,” he said.
He went on to praise Premier Andrew Fahie for his recent promises to tackle immigration and labour reform.
“We’ve been kicking the proverbial can down the road for a very long time,” he said, adding, “In my opinion it was the best approach to tackling such an issue.”
Mr. Wheatley went on to give several updates on his Ninth District, which includes Virgin Gorda and Anegada.
He said the process has been set in motion to make Setting Point an official point of entry in Anegada.
In addition, he said to speed up land distribution he instructed his ministry to send out notices to all residents who were assigned property but never paid for it.
“Be on notice,” he said. “You have six weeks to pay up or I’ll be taking it back and giving it to someone else who’s more serious about moving this country forward.”
He also credited the Ministry of Transportation, Works and Utilities for servicing many roads in Virgin Gorda, work he said will continue over the next few weeks in addition to clearing out drains.
Work on clearing alternative roads to Nail Bay will also commence shortly, he said, adding that he expects them to be completed by July.
He also thanked TWU Minister Kye Rymer for installing a new reservoir at North Sound.
He added that several other projects are in the works in the district, including the completion of the North Sound Community Centre, the removal of derelict cars, and the acquisition of property for the new Bregado Flax Educational Centre Primary Division.