STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE VINCENT WHEATLEY
MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES, LABOUR & IMMIGRATION
SEVENTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
THURSDAY, 15TH APRIL, 2021
INTRODUCTION OF AN EXPEDITED WORK PERMIT FEE
Mister Speaker, during the Sixth Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth meeting of this Honourable House, held on the March 4th of this year, I brought before you a motion in the form of Statutory Instrument No. 14 of 2021 which introduced the Statutory Rates, Fees and Charges (Amendment of Schedule) Order, 2021. Mister Speaker, this allowed for Part 45 – Work Permit Fees of the Statutory Rates, Fees and Charges Act, 2005 to be amended, thus resulting in the introduction of an expedited work permit fee of One Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($150.00).
Mister Speaker, in 2018 the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration introduced the Executive Work Permit programme, which is commonly known as the EWP programme, that allows for workers yielding an annual salary of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) or over, from any industry within our Territory, to benefit from a specialized service when processing their work permits. Since then, a wider category of workers have been introduced to utilize the programme, and this started in October of 2020. This new category was allowed for following Government’s decision to introduce an “Ease of Doing Business” initiative that allows Government to redefine services across all areas allowing for more seamless processes. Mister Speaker, as the Minister for Labour it is my aim to introduce areas that allow for ease of doing business across all sectors for work permit processing. However, it was agreed that it would be most feasible to start with the Financial Services Industry, which also includes legal, insurance and accounting companies.
Mister Speaker, under both programmes applicants are able to have direct contact with members of the EWP team, on the status of their application, they have access to expedited processing of certificates, with the Social Security Board and National Health Insurance, and they benefit from processing times as quick as three (3) business days, but no more than twelve business (12) days which varies depending on the type of application. Since the inception of the programmes the Ministry has processed a total of Seven Hundred and Nine (709) Executive Work Permit applications and Fifty-One (51) applications, within the wider Financial Services Industry, all within the allotted expedited timeline. Mister Speaker, these numbers signify Seven Hundred and Sixty (760) clients who have received exceptional and specialized services at no additional cost. Mister Speaker, we should not carry on in this way.
Mister Speaker, with the implementation of these programmes, it was felt that a reasonable fee should be introduced to alleviate the costs associated with these services, which resulted in the amendment to Part 45 of the Statutory Rates, Fees and Charges Act. Mister Speaker it is important to note that the introduction of this new expedited fee will be firstly utilized by the Executive Work Permit and Financial Services Industry Work Permit programmes, whose work permit applications are currently processed by the team at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration. Mister Speaker, that expedited fee, took effect on Monday, 12th April, 2021 and will be administered as a mandatory fee for utilizing these services within the Ministry. Mister Speaker, often times when new fees are introduced, it can be seen as burdensome, to the individuals utilizing the applicable services. However, most times government fees, for services are below standard and do not, compare to the services rendered.
Mister Speaker, the Ministry and the Department of Labour and Workforce Development intends to offer a variety of more efficient, streamlined, and expeditious services to the public as we continue to reform, thus allowing us to better meet the needs of the great array of clients we service daily. With this evolution of labour related services Mister Speaker, the public will be hearing more in the coming weeks about our enhanced services and the long-awaited introduction of technology to our work permit processing services.
Mister Speaker, I thank you.