PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour VSA Pamela Gordon-Carty has reviewed her ministry’s previous decision to halt the granting of work permits.
She announced her decision during Wednesday’s weekly press briefing.
“It is important that we can guarantee the continuity of the different sectors that are still open and that are providing services,” she said.
She said the focus at the moment in regard to the granting of work permits is solely on persons needed in essential services such as the hospital, the Ambulance Department and so forth.
“We are always in need of specialised expertise and personnel. Therefore, that space has to remain open and other aspects have to be taken into account,” she said.
The minister said that in discussion with the head of the Labour Affairs Department it was agreed that the renewal of work permits would be possible for those persons deemed absolutely necessary.
Applicants applying for the first time will not be granted a work permit unless listed as essential in the public health sector.
According to Gordon-Carty, the ministry anticipates that the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will result in the termination of employment for many in St. Maarten.
“We are waiting to see what will be the magnitude of the impact, in order for us [the ministry – Ed.] to decide how to move forward when it comes to work permits,” she said.
The current unemployment rate is already high and this is likely to increase, she said.
“We are not going to open work permits because, of course, that is counterproductive and against what we were trying to achieve in the beginning,” she added.
She said she would continue to monitor and pay keen attention to the unemployment rate and the rate of increase.