BVI, Caribbeanand International News

We’re not happy with Labour and Trade departments — Premier

We’re not happy with Labour and Trade departments — Premier

The territory’s leader has expressed dissatisfaction with the way the Labour and Trade Departments are being operated and has called for some level of reform to be implemented to turn things around.
Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley gave that indication at a press conference yesterday, May 2 where he sang the praises of newly-appointed Financial Services and Labour Minister, Lorna Smith, OBE.

Even as the premier praised his deputy for having what he described as an exceptional skillset, he was pointed in suggesting that some of the processes in government need reformation.

“We know that our business community and our workforce… were not happy with the efficiency and effectiveness of both the Trade Department and the Labour Department,” the Premier said.

Dr Wheatley described Smith as a fixer and a doer and commented that even though the challenges in those departments appear to be great, she is expected to do great things within that ministry.

Premier Wheatley, in the meantime, also singled out the Ministry of Agriculture, an area for which he has assumed responsibility, as yet another sector in need of reform.

He argued that while there are persons who work very hard within the various ministries, there are certain things that need to be done to ensure they can deliver the ministerial mandates they are given.

“One thing I’m going to do with this administration — not just for agriculture and fisheries but just for everyone — we’re going to have regular meetings with the Deputy Governor and the Permanent Secretaries and we will hold them accountable for delivering on the mandates of ministers,” the Premier said.

Both the Labour and Trade Departments have received much public criticism over the past few years, with the Director of the Trade Department, Karia Christopher promising to resign after explaining late last year that her Department was in a dire state in the absence of much-needed staff.

Meanwhile, the Labour Department, which was previously helmed by now-Health Minister Vincent Wheatley, also came in for extensive criticism over attempts made to transition its operations to a digital platform.

Those attempts at transformation were marred by months-long work permit delays and hiccups and were eventually aborted.

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