Update: PU Pushes For ‘Belongers First’

Ahreefa Bacchus, Journalist | January 11, 2019 9:06 pm AST | 4 Comments
Ahreefa Bacchus, Journalist
January 11, 2019 9:06 pm AST | 4 Comments
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
As the campaign season gets into full swing, political parties are continuing to push the notion of ‘Belongers first,’ the latest being the newly-launched Julian Fraser-led Progressives United (PU).

During the unveiling of their four candidates thus far, some PU candidates placed emphasis on the need to prioritise BVIslanders, especially when it comes to employment opportunities.

Chairman of the party, Hon. Julian Fraser took the opportunity to complain over the fact that over 1000 expatriates have joined the workforce since Hurricane Irma, later telling his supporters that BVIslanders should be given job priority—something that he intends to push for if his party is elected.

“The Minister for Labour reported that for the period November 2017 to August 2018, the Labour Department processed 3785 work permit waivers. We cannot dismiss the impact that the hurricanes have had on our workforce in terms of demand,” he said.

“However, in a workforce of 15000 plus, to have an addition of 20 percent of its size added to a single segment, meaning construction, is Coup d'état,” he continued, alluding to expatriates having a takeover of the sector.

“The claim is that they’re skilled workers. Our belief that this is an opportunity to clean house, how cynical,” he added.

Back in December, Minister of Natural Resources and Labour, Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering told the House of Assembly (HoA) that as of November, his Ministry and the Department of Labour processed a total of 3,693 applications that were made for persons to enter the territory to assist with recovery under the work permit waiver for skilled workers initiative and skilled workers programme respectively.

Of that number, 1,983 of the applications were for skilled workers waivers during the period 8 June to 19 June 2018.

There were 1,710 approved work permit applications—which were included in the total figure provided.

Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
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The Labour Department is responsible for processing and issuing work permits to expatriates, and Hon. Fraser declared that if PU is elected, one of his first tasks will be a change of the department’s mandate.

“Progressives United will in its first 100 days redirect the focus of the Labour Department from being a facilitator of work permits to one that reduces unemployment with a view towards eliminating it,” he announced.

Their new role, he said, would be to put systems in place to ensure that Belongers are prioritized in job placement.

“Meaningful training and placement will take place by the Labour Department. Every working age, able-bodied Belonger is entitled to a job. At least that’s the way that we at Progressives United see it. And we are prepared to hold up our commitment by ensuring that you will never be disenfranchised in your own land,” he declared.

PU’s District Four Candidate, Vincent Scatliffe also shared this view, saying, “Virgin Islanders must be given priority in any social and economic development opportunities which may arise in this country, and as such must be empowered and protected.”

Previous Article Published January 11: PU Unrolls Four Candidates

Progressives United (PU) this evening, January 11, unrolled four candidates who will be contesting the General Election, to be held by April 16.

While the party has not yet presented a full slate, in the presence of a small crowd in Sea Cow's Bay, it was announced that the party has several other candidates to put forward, including for the At Large seats.

So far, the candidates announced include Ms. Stephanie Brewley, commonly known as ‘the Brown Girl in the Ring,’ who will be contesting the District One seat.

Chairman of the Progressives United, Hon. Julian Fraser, who is currently the District Three representative, will be defending his seat in the House of Assembly (HoA).

Hon. Fraser has had a stronghold on the Third District seat for the past 20 years, since being elected in 1999.

Dr. Vincent Scatliffe, who previously served as Fourth District Representative, will once again run for that seat. He ran with the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) in 2007 and won that seat with 49.8 percent of the votes. In 2011, he lost his seat to Hon. Mark Vanterpool.

Meanwhile, for District Five, the PU presented Dirk Walters.

In early 2018, it was announced that Hon. Fraser would no longer be running under the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) ticket, after he lost his run for VIP Chairman against Hon. Andrew Fahie.

Later in the year, he confirmed that he was in the process of forming his own political party, and held a soft launch in August.

Back in November, Hon. Fraser submitted Progressives United’s official symbol and colours to the Office of the Elections Supervisor.

He has already begun his campaign trail on Facebook, with several videos and jingles to solicit support.
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