Government’s plan to allow people living in other countries to work from home in Barbados for up to a year has been so well received that other countries have come up with similar plans, said Attorney General Dale Marshall, as he joined fellow parliamentarians in backing the initiative on the floor of the House of Assembly.
As he wrapped up debate on the bill to bring the plan into force, the MP for St Joseph said: “Within two weeks of our making this announcement, and with all the publicity we have been getting all over the world since we did so, Bermuda has announced a similar scheme, and Antigua and Barbuda has spoken of a similar visa arrangement, but in their case, it is for up to two years.
“We have a mature citizenry which has recognised that COVID-19 has forced us to ‘think outside of the box’, and I am sure that when this bill reaches the Senate, the Opposition will likely oppose it, but the independent Senators will see merit in it. In a crisis hope is not an option; we can hope for the situation to clear up, a vaccine, or for some international agency to provide us with financial assistance, but this party values a spirit of action and doing.”
Addressing questions as to why the Barbadian visa fee was as high as between $2,000 and $3,000, while Bermuda was charging $283, he explained: “The visa fees are there to cover administrative costs.
“This is aimed at getting hotel workers back out, to pay accountants, entertainers and food suppliers, in short, to get the country going again, not to fill the Government’s coffers.
“Bermuda knows why it has chosen to go that particular route, and unlike Barbados, Bermuda gets affected by hurricanes on a regular basis and can get very cold at certain times of the year.”
MP for St. James South Sandra Husbands said: “The Welcome Stamp’s success depends on us being able to market it and sell it to those who can take it up. Barbados has one of the highest numbers of return visitors in the world, some of whom have come here for generations, but they are dying off now and we need to attract a new demographic, such as high net worth individuals and millennials, and the Welcome Stamp can do it.”
She also urged Barbadians to “be on their best behaviour” as the venture is rolled out.
She said: “We have our National Training Initiative which will bring our workers up to world-class standards, and I will also urge Barbadians to keep the country clean. I commend the MP for St. Michael East and the MP for Christ Church West for their work in cleaning up the environment and repairing the roads. People will speak about this experience regardless of how it turns out, and we want them to leave this country with a positive impression of it.”