Pearl Quinn-Williams, the United Progressive Party (UPP) caretaker for St. John’s Rural North, is crying shame on the Gaston Browne Administration for its delay in implementing the work-permit waiver for CARICOM and Dominican Republic nationals.
During its election campaign, the Antigua Labour Party hijacked this commitment from the UPP, who had announced its intention – under its One Caribbean Act – to waive work-permit fees for these two categories of workers, effective March 1, 2023, once the Party was elected.
The Labour Party, however, gave its implementation date as January 1, 2023.
However, on Wednesday, February 1, the Cabinet decided that there have to be further discussions on the proposal before it is implemented.
In the meantime, the Cabinet agreed that the CARICOM Treaty requirements will continue, including the six-month entry allowance for visitors from thosee States.
This week’s Cabinet Notes report that discussions will have to take place among the Legal Department of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, experts within the Immigration Department, and the Ministry of Labour – with the objective of ensuring that the process is seamless.
Weighing in on the surprising delay, Quinn-Williams says that non-nationals have been “bamboozled” again. She is calling on the Browne Administration to “keep their word for once and implement the waiver of the work-permit fees NOW, without further delay!”
In a letter dated February 2, the UPP caretaker reminds the Nation that the Labour Party – true to its copy-cat, cheating form – announced that it would waive the work-permit fees at the start of this year.
Accordingly, she is shocked that the Administration has not yet worked out the mechanisms for implementing its election promise, which should have taken effect already.
“If this government was serious about the implementation being January 1, 2023, as they announced, they would have done what was necessary to work out the mechanics, so that they could actually do so,” Quinn-Williams says.
She notes that, after having “bought” the recent elections, and with a slim one-seat majority, the Browne Administration is now saying the implementation will be delayed – for what she deems “all kinds of spurious reasons.”
Quinn-Williams reminds immigrants that this is the same administration that doubled the work-permit fees and all other associated costs shortly after it returned to office in 2018.
One frustrated CARICOM national reportedly is not pleased with the Cabinet’s announcement, and claims that immigrants sold their votes for a few dollars and on the basis of this and other promises.
And he notes that the Browne Administration continues to make these non-nationals pay work-permit fees that are higher than the cash they took for their votes.
He points out that they could have had the fees waived under a UPP government, but – yet again – allowed themselves to be fooled.
The man reportedly wants to know when his Caribbean brothers and sisters will learn that the word of the Labour Party cannot be trusted.