Statement
17 May 2019 - 1:31pm

STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE

ON 1000 JOBS IN 1000 DAYS INITIATIVE
AT THE THIRD SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION 
OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

Friday, 17th May, 2019
10:00 a.m.

Mr. Speaker, when we were in the midst of the campaign, we declared “every posse must work!”

And while we captured the Caribbean vernacular to explain in one phrase a serious policy position, we were determined that this was not relegated to a catch phrase tailored for a short campaign.

It is the underpinning of a broad philosophy and a defining policy.

When we thought about it, we did not ever think it was going to be easy.

But we are here not to merely attempt the easy; but the desirable.

Mr. Speaker, it is through work we will empower our people, and it is through work we will expand this economy.

Work is part of a broad government policy to broaden the consumer base, so that people here can deliver goods and services, the earnings from which can be used for greater investments in our children and their future.

Mr. Speaker, we always believed that as a people we had enough determination and ingenuity to pull off what the manifesto said – and what the billboards declared – 1,000 jobs in 1,000 days.

Well, the countdown had long begun.

We are determined to advocate and enact policies that will spur growth in the economy, and that will improve the investor confidence about the future of what we are seeking to build.

As we announced during this year’s budget, the Government of the Virgin Islands are seeking to promote youth employment by offering an incentive to businesses to pay 10% of the annual salary costs in the first year of the programme for all BVIslanders employed by the businesses and undergo training.

We are glad to announce that (your businesses) have expressed initial interest in the programme.

Among those already indicating they will come on board are our partners at Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean and some of our other cruise lines. They have agreed to explore the opportunities available to partner with the BVI on the employment initiative.

I am particularly happy to have their support and I am currently in initial discussions with them to work through the details as there are still some things to be done on both ends prior to any finalised plans being shared.

But that is just the beginning.  Banco Popular, Rite Way, Inter Caribbean airline, among other businesses have already committed to come on board with this initiative.  We are inviting more businesses to sign up.

To qualify, interested locally based businesses must register with the Premier's Office to be part of this programme.

Mr. Speaker, we are working through Department of Labour to go around the Territory to register all locals not working and assist by registering all private sector businesses interested in this initiative.

After a year of employment of people under this programme, the Government of the Virgin Islands through the Premier's Office will pay a "one off" 10% of the annual salary of the locals employed by the private sector.

We will have to agree with the participating business- an aspect of training that must be a necessary component.

We do not want people to just be hired and brought through the door; but to be trained so they can make better contributions to the businesses, and to the wider society.

If all our targets are met, we believe 1,000 people can be so engaged in the next 36 months.

Mr. Speaker, this combo, with all the other independent jobs being created in the services sector, and construction, and other sectors as well, will ensure that we achieve the targets we set, if not surpass them.

For the timid, this may sound as a bold initiative – but this is Your Government in action.

Mr. Speaker, we believe there are many positive sides to all of this.

It will help improve the self-esteem of our people and help them take their rightful place in our society.

Our local people are not being sidelined; they are being engaged.

It’s not just the meek, but your children shall indeed inherit this land through the dint of the opportunities we create for them, and by the creation of their skillful minds and hands.

Mr. Speaker, the most exciting thing about all of this – is the example of the partnership we seek to build involving the government, local businesses and the people.

Working together we have no doubt we can find creative and meaningful solutions to our problems; and we can build an inclusive society with more opportunities for all.

Mr. Speaker, for this to be successful we MUST have the complete buy in by ALL local businesses.

We are inspired by the patriotism and the enthusiasm we have seen by some local business owners and managers. We invite others to get onboard.

The march to one thousand jobs in one thousand days has begun but will be officially launched in a few days.

Mr. Speaker, this is where the party ends; and the real work begins.

I thank you very much.

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