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The Ministry of Labour and Social Security generated an estimated revenue intake of $160 million from issuing work permits to foreign nationals employed to work in the island, during the 2004/05 fiscal year.
This disclosure was made by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Horace Dalley during his presentation in the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House on May 17.
He said the collection of funds for the work permits came about based on recommendations made by a Sub-committee of the Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) that reviewed the procedures and also examined the laws and regulations governing the granting of the permits.
“As part of the recommendation, the government re-introduced a fee structure for the granting of work permits to foreign nationals wishing to work here in Jamaica. That decision has brought in revenue in excess of $160 million for the period August 1, 2004 to April 30, 2005,” Mr. Dalley informed.
The Minister said the recent move by the Labour Ministry to charge for work permits “has ensured that adequate steps are in place to protect local skills, while at the same time ensuring that highly skilled labour from overseas are available”.
Against the background of expansions scheduled to take place in the bauxite sector, the hotel industry, as well as the Jamaica Public Service Company, the Minister said there would be full utilisation of local skilled labour.
He noted, however, that where “there is the absence of these skills locally, those skills must be sourced within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy as is the case with other Caribbean territories. Extra regional sourcing of these skills should only take place where they are not available in the region”. Mr. Dalley said where the skills were not readily available and there was the need to import labour, one of the requirements the Labour Ministry would be stressing in the granting a work permit, would be for companies to implement a training programme to transfer the skills to Jamaican nationals. Such training programmes, he explained, were being championed on account of the frequency of renewal of work permits.
“There are some multi-national corporations with expatriates occupying top executive posts in Jamaica, and I want to emphasise that the Ministry will not be renewing work permits indefinitely where our investigations show that no effort has been made to train Jamaicans for these jobs,” the Minister said.