Some employers have been unable to pay up all the monies they owe to Social Security, National Health Insurance, and tax at the Inland Revenue Department. Following these complaints from business owners who are unable to meet government’s new requirement for a certificate of good standing, the BVI government decided to make a small change. However, Minister for Natural Resources Labour and Immigration Hon. Vincent Wheatley stated that the government still intends to collect what is owed.
The Minister’s update in the House of Assembly on 21 July was in response to a previous announcement that effective immediately, all work permit renewals being submitted to the Department of Labour and Workforce Development were to be accompanied by the applying company’s good standings from the Social Security Board, Inland Revenue Department, and National Health Insurance.
At that time the Minister stated that the applications had to be accompanied by required certificates of earnings from the Social Security Board and Inland Revenue Department for the applicable employee seeking a renewal of his or her work permit. Hon. Wheatley told the HOA that without the mentioned documentation work permits will not be accepted by the Department of Labour and Workforce Development.
However, this week the Minister mentioned that he has heard a number of outcries about that policy. Hon. Wheatley told the House of Assembly: “I know that persons have been complaining about the length of time it takes to receive these certificates of Good Standing as very often we are still operating on manual systems.”
As it relates to the inability to pay Hon. Wheatley stated: “it has been brought to my attention that there are many employers who have large outstanding balances and are unable to make a one-time payment to qualify for the certificates. As it is not our intention to turn well-meaning business persons in criminals, taking into consideration that many businesses are still recovering from the devastations of 2017, we have decided to relax the requirements, just a bit, as we still have to collect our dues.”
While explaining that Government has found a way to strike a balance to allow work permit renewal, Hon. Wheatley pointed out that the employers are still obligated to pay: “I wish to make it clear that those businesses not in Good Standing will be allowed to renew work permits once they present a payment plan. We do understand the difficulties faced by many and it is never our intention to make things even more difficult. It is the intention of the Government to have the relevant departments assist employers with their payment plans in order to pay off their balances. These plans can be attached to the renewal work permit application which the Department of Labour and Workforce Development will accept to process the renewals.”