This new short-term plan, put forward by the Concerned Citizen Movement (CCM) government on Nevis, would see foreign nationals who hold work permits and annual residence on the sister isle benefiting from reduced costs. But, importantly, it is a mechanism that allows undocumented workers and persons in arrears to become regularized in the labour management system.
On his weekly radio programme, ‘On the Mark’, Deputy Premier Mark Brantley urged “non-nationals” to seize the initiative and get themselves regularized.
He stated that they have discovered over the years that many persons have gone “underground”, because they simply could not afford to pay for their regular status in the country.
“What I mean by that is many people simply could not afford to pay for their work permits. Yes, employers, by law, are the ones who are supposed to pay for work permits, but the truth is the practice has developed that a lot of employees are being forced to make that payment and a lot of people simply couldn’t afford it.”
In explaining the new policy, Brantley said that “non-nationals” would see fees that they would have owed for previous years, being waived as of the 1st January, but they would have to pay for the present year 2015, and if that is done by the cut off period, they would have a discount on the amount they pay.
“We have sought to work with those individuals, as a caring government, to say to them that once they are prepared to bring themselves into compliance with our law and conduct themselves in a peaceful, upright and proper manner that they ought to play their role in the development of our beautiful island,” said Minister Brantley, explaining that fellow Nevisians have helped to develop islands around the region.
“Our policies, as a government, always have been more inclusive, kinder, gentler, as we build the type of society that we wish to see,” said the deputy premier.
“What we have observed is that a lot of people had not regularised their status had gone underground, operating, as you will, in fear. They were in the shadows. We sought to bring them in and to work with them and introduce programmes that they will pay over time… but many found the burden too heavy,” said Brantley, who informed that there were persons struggling to pay $6,000 and $7,000 that they had accumulated over the years.
“So after much thought, discussion and consultation, the new CCM administration, as of 6th January, as promised in the premier’s new years’ address, made a land mark announcement that all non-nationals living in Nevis and if they are owing monies…residency or for visa extension up to 2014, that those monies will be waived… if you come in between those three months you will get a $500 discount on your work permit and if you are not on work permit and you have annual residency, you will get a $500 discount as well,” said Minister Brantley.
Individuals who get their status regularized would have stamps for all previous unpaid years and be brought up to date with a stamp for 2015, Brantley indicated.