Astaphan says exemption of work-permit fees for West Africans creates unfair job competition and a shortfall in gov’t revenues

The Browne Administration’s exemption of work-permit fees for persons who arrived here from West Africa in late 2022 is unfair to Antiguans and Barbudans, says Dwyer Astaphan, the former politician and attorney-at-law from St. Kitts.

The Order authorizes the non-application of the Labour Code’s Division F requirement to persons who arrived here on a number of controversial flights from Nigeria, and it authorizes them to seek employment without paying work-permit fees “by virtue of a Certificate … issued by the Labour Commissioner.”

Astaphan points out that this will create great competition for jobs, even as nationals are complaining they are unable to find employment.

The former politician describes himself as a compassionate man who acknowledges the struggles the West Africans face.  However, he also notes that a significant part of their earnings, most likely, will be remitted to their countries of birth to support family members.

Astaphan notes that the Government will lose a significant amount of money through the exemption of work-permit fees – and this, likely, will likely be recouped through hidden taxes.

Chiding the Administration, he says that governments should not be putting in place measures that make life onerous for their own citizens.