Bryan Working on Work Visas and CARICOM

Communications Director Richard Motta updated media on what came out of the governor’s recent trip to Washington, D.C. (Screenshot courtesy V.I. Government House Facebook live stream)

At the end of February, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. returned from a week in Washington, D.C., and brought some new initiatives with him.

One is to bring the territory into an active involvement with CARICOM, an organization whose name is a shortening of the term Caribbean Community. Twenty governments participate in the organization. Government House Communications Director Richard Motta Jr. said at the weekly Government House briefing the governor plans to “officially embrace the opportunity to join forces” with CARICOM. He said the territory and CARICOM had many of the same goals. The organization’s goals include enhancing regional trade and opening more job opportunities. The organization’s website also mentions fighting climate change, working to alleviate crime, and bringing better healthcare to the region.

The other initiative Motta told the press the governor is working on is a visa waiver program. Motta said Bryan has been talking to the State Department to develop a visa program to make it easier for skilled workers to come and work in the territory. Motta said that with all the recovery projects in the territory, it does not have all the skilled labor it needs for a “robust recovery.”

The discussions, according to Motta, are still in the early stages.

Responding to a question about the territory’s financial situation, Motta said financial liquidity was still an issue, but as corporate taxes came in at the end of this month and personal taxes came in in April, the problem may disappear.

While in Washington, Bryan attended meetings with the National Governor’s Association and the Insular Government Interagency group.

In other matters, Motta read from Bryan’s Virgin Islands History Month declaration. He read that the month would be “the celebration and commemoration of events that have shaped the history and culture of this territory, and through paying tribute to the heroes and heroines and other individuals, past and present, who have contributed to enrich and better the lives of Virgin Islanders and others through the ages.”

He also noted that it was a time of mourning for the death of St. Croix celebrity Hugh Pemberton, an entrepreneur, radio station owner, and longtime broadcaster. Pemberton died Saturday. He was 76.