Declaring that the new Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration of which she is a part is ‘all about action’, Deputy Premier and Minister for Financial Services, Labour and Trade, Hon Lorna G. Smith (AL), OBE, has indicated that ahead of the start of the Fifth House of Assembly, work has already begun in areas such as the Trade Commission and work permit processing in the VI.
“This new administration is all about action. Action to improve our infrastructure, action to support our young people, action to bring our sister islands closer so that we can be one Virgin Islands, action to support children and young people and generally people with special needs. Madam Speaker, the real work has begun,” she added.
Hon Smith, while speaking at the Swearing-In Ceremony and First Sitting of the First Session of the Fifth House of Assembly at Multi-Purpose Sports Complex on May 18, 2023, said she remains humbled and thankful to be well placed to carry out the promises she made ahead of being elected.
One of her main promises was to reform certain sectors.
“The Ministry of Financial Services, Labour and Trade that I now lead is new, but the main areas within that ministry complement themselves, complement each other perfectly,” she added.
“So I have already started the process of reviewing our newly established Trade Commission and the work permit processes to make sure that they are fit for purpose.”
The long delays in work permit processing have been a concern for years, with many local businesses expressing frustration.
Too much red tape in Gov't - Hon Smith
Hon Smith detailed that there were too many complaints about the red tape that exists in government and her intention is to make sure that that red tape is cut significantly.
Meanwhile, Hon Smith reminded that financial services contribute more than 60% of what the government spends and it is critically important to support the sector in significant ways.
“Without it, the standard of living in this territory will drop significantly. We must do everything, therefore, to actively support the sector so that it continues to provide skilled labour and the strong revenues to [the] government and to the economy in general.
"I believe that having a minister focused on the sector provides the drive that is needed for growth and development,” she said while adding that the VI must remain nimble and act on all opportunities.