Leader of the Opposition, and First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie announced that considerations should be made to have persons who came to the Territory to assist with hurricane repairs to return to their countries.
Hon. Fahie made the comment while he was contributing to the debate on the Human Rights Commission Act during the 9 October sitting of the House of Assembly. The Opposition Leader recalled that during the questions and answers segment of a previous sitting of the House it was revealed that 1,710 persons came into the Territory on work permits to assist with the rebuilding of structures.
Hon. Fahie told the House: “1,710 persons have been allowed in the Territory to help… they have some rights yes, there are rights and they have to understand it is a privilege because I am hearing on the flip side of the coin where persons are asking well, what is the program…. what is our right here in this Territory?”
The Leader of the Opposition added, “Belongers and indigenous — all of them are asking, how are we going to get these persons back out? It might sound harsh but they came for a specific purpose… and we already have enough social problems and they will have rights but it is also just a privilege and you don’t have to ill-treat anyone, that is wrong.”
In tying the issue into the Human Rights Act, Hon. Fahie said, “We do need to make sure that these acts don’t give persons who have come with a special purpose, more rights than who are here… It has to have a balance.”
The notion that persons who came to assist with the rebuilding process should leave after the work is finished was echoed by Junior Minister of Tourism, Hon. Archibald Christian during the 27 April sitting of the House of Assembly.
At the time Hon. Christian urged legislators to keep an eye on the skilled workers entering the Territory to assist with the reconstruction projects as he said they may use the opportunity to reside in the BVI permanently.
As he spoke of population explosion, the Junior Minister mentioned the permanent residing of migrant workers as a factor. He told the House “We know sometimes when persons arrive in the Territory for a particular skill they remain with us forever. Throughout this whole flood, Irma and Maria exercise we have seen some social challenges that have confronted us and we have to be able to manage that.”
“The baseline number of work permits that were issued in 2014 is 8,344; 2017 is 9,481. They are expecting a 10 percent target increase for work permits to be issued by 2018,” Hon. Christian pointed out.
He therefore suggested that the Territory needs to improve its skilled labour force and strike a balance between recovery and population increase.