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Tuesday, July 5, 2022


There has lately been a lot of discussion regarding the financial dilemma facing the people and government of the U. S. Virgin Islands.
There are also two parallel employment problems. One is high entry-level unemployment and the other, ironically, is a labor shortage.
The Virgin Islands has the ability to offer certain tax and customs duty benefits to business in order to create a stronger economy. Various potential solutions have been put forth, many flagrantly self serving. The proposers and primary benefit receivers in the private sector proposals are major companies.
The small employer is, except for the Industrial Development Commission's tourist goods clause, left without the same ability to obtain tax exemptions and credits.
I wish to make a proposal that is similar in some elements to the existing programs but different in others. The watch and jewelry customs benefits are based on deducting the cost of V.I. labor from the amount charged in
import duties. The I.D.C. benefits, which consist of 90 percent tax exemptions, are
granted on the basis of the likelihood of the recipient business creating employment.
What I wish to propose follows: The governor and Legislature should make a statement that: "The Virgin Islands has an unusually high level of civil service employment per capita. Other government jurisdictions manage to supply a similar level of public services without as many employees or labor hours." (In dealing with local government offices, I sometimes get the distinct feeling that computerization with its resulting efficiencies has been deliberately avoided as matter of policy.)
There are, of course, certain people in the private sector who have done this, but it is usually linked with an unreasonable assumption. Virgin Islands government employees aren't necessarily bad workers. Rather they are working within a system in which efficiency is not rewarded to the same degree as in the private sector. There is also a lack of appreciation by critics of the
V.I Civil Service of workers' fears of unemployment. The answer is Task Priority
Ranking and providing regular flexible alternative employment without loss of Civil Service benefits.
In practice, the departmental commissioners would divide their employees' tasks up among the necessary and the discretionary and schedule accordingly. The end of the week and the end of the month would have large predictable blocks of employees assigned discretionary tasks. This would allow for a radical change.
A temporary employment service or employee leasing firm could contract with the government to manage an offer to the private sector. Hire these workers for a figure that covers the fully loaded pro-rata cost and we will deduct it from your taxes even if you end up deducting 90 percent. No matter what business you are in or who you sell to or
how many people you hire full time at or over two.
I feel this would open up a log jam. Private employers would boost their availability of labor. Government employees would know that they were not losing their jobs or job benefits involuntarily. Businesses and employees that found that they were paired well might continue working together to the
point of regular part-time labor or early retirement. Entry level private sector workers would not necessarily be negatively impacted as they can work more regularly.
The financial dilemma of the Virgin Islands Treasury Department would be relieved in relation to the success of the program.
Richard Bond is a St. Croix resident

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