With the Cayman Islands looking to suspend their work permit term limits, Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards said the “Bermuda Government’s partial retreat from the policy earlier this summer through a programme of limited work permit exemptions for key worker was de facto acknowledgment that its policy was hurting the people of Bermuda and the Island’s attractiveness as a business centre. Cayman, our competitor, instead of just thinking about it, has taken action to help its people and put Cayman first.”
A fellow British Overseas Territory with a similar population size to Bermuda, the Cayman Islands also earns income through the international business sector. This past Wednesday [Sept.14] Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush said he would ask Cabinet to temporarily suspend Cayman’s term limit on foreign workers’ residency for up to two years to allow for a comprehensive review of the policy.
Premier Premier Paula Cox responded to the news of Cayman’s intended policy change, saying, “The benefit of the Bermuda immigration model is that it is dynamic and this move by Cayman highlights the flexibility of our policy. Our approach differs from Cayman as they embedded their rollover policy in law, so it lacks the nimbleness of the Bermuda model which is a policy, not a law.”
“I do not think that Cayman’s actions alone on this front make Bermuda less competitive. The way they process work permits and the cost of work permits has always been a problem for them. For example, our charge of $20,000 for a 10-year work permit is less than what their fee is for an executive for one year ($25,000),” said the Premier.
The full statement by Mr Richards is below:
Premier McKeeva Bush of Cayman recently said something important when explaining why his government was ending term limits for a period of two years.
He said when people are forced to leave Cayman because of the policy, “rental apartment revenues are lost, plumbers, electricians, shopkeepers, supermarkets, construction companies, heavy equipment operators, truck owners and every other business feels the economic impact in these islands.”
Mr. Bush was acknowledging that his government’s policy was hurting the economic well-being of Caymanians. The Bermuda Government’s partial retreat from the policy earlier this summer through a programme of limited work permit exemptions for key worker was de facto acknowledgment that its policy was hurting the people of Bermuda and the Island’s attractiveness as a business centre.
Cayman, our competitor, instead of just thinking about it, has taken action to help its people and put Cayman first.
Here at home, the Government is putting pride before country – unwilling to change one of its signature policies despite evidence that it is neither working for the benefit of Bermudians nor enhancing the Island’s attractiveness as a business centre.
We think in their heart of hearts the Government knows its policy is wrong for the Island but that saving face is too important to them.
The cornerstone of OBA policy is to put Bermuda first. In the matter of term limits, this means changing the policy to better serve the people of this country.
We say and we have said: End term limits for job categories that normally get 90% waivers. Put in place policies that work for Bermudians. Don’t allow political pride to come before the interests of the people.
Cayman is addressing the issue – and improving its competitive position – while the Bermuda Government “proudly” watches.