DeFreitas says ALP’s promise of work-permit waivers was a knee-jerk response to UPP’s policy for CARICOM and DR nationals

Franz deFreitas, the United Progressive Party (UPP) caretaker for St. John’s City South, says the Gaston Browne Administration continues to play tricks on immigrants, as he scoffs at claims of a report on work permits for CARICOM and Dominican Republic nationals.

Last Wednesday, March 15, the Cabinet said it had received the report of a committee that was organized to recommend how work-permit waivers for these two categories should be structured.

The waiver of work-permit fees was an election promise made by the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) in the run-up to the January 18 polls, following announcements by the UPP to do so.

But while the UPP had worked out how it would implement the policy, the ALP had not done so – despite giving a start date – and is now seeking to put measures in place.  

As a result, the Executive says that an amendment to the existing law is required, “and so, too, will be the regulations governing the issuance of work permits.”

Reportedly, the draft legislation is to be submitted to a team in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, and subsequently taken to Cabinet and then to the Parliament – apparently within a matter of weeks.

However, deFreitas says the Labour Party had no intention of waiving work-permit fees – until it heard the UPP’s announcement; thus, the reason for the delay in implementation.

He says the decision was made only to secure votes and, now, those who had been promised are anxious for that promise to be fulfilled.

According to the City South caretaker, even in its third term in public office, the Browne Administration is still running the country by knee-jerk reactions.

DeFreitas is appealing to non-nationals to stop being fooled by the sitting administration, which does anything for a vote.