Column: Comprehensive Immigration Reform

March 1, 2019 | 5 Comments

[Opinion column written by MP Chris Famous]

“The truth is an offence but not a sin” - Bob Marley

Below are some of the constant narratives expounded by those closely related to the OBA:

“We need more boots on the ground.” Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier

“Swing open the gates to the outside world.” Michael Fahy

“The PLP placed a lot of political importance on Comprehensive Immigration Reform when in Opposition” Nick Kempe

Let us take a closer look at some of the realities.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Similar to the question: “How long is long?”, so is the question, “What is Comprehensive Immigration Reform” [CIR]?

For ease of understanding, CIR can be broken down into 2-3 major columns.

As mentioned in budget 2019/20, there will be funds earmarked to help streamline and improve the in-office immigration processes in order to be completed in a more efficient time frame.

Another crucial leg of CIR, will address the issues of mixed-status families. This was part of our campaign pledge to address during our first term in office.

Without a doubt, the most critical leg of CIR, will be implementing measures to ensure that Bermudians have protection, to seek and retain employment in their own country. There are far too many instances of employers attempting to bring in guest workers, by claiming that they cannot find qualified Bermudians or attempting to pay low wages.

Interestingly, what is most alarming about the claims that the government is dragging its feet on CIR, is that two members of the OBA sit on the CIR committee and they recognise the need for these processes to be examined and carried out in an extremely meticulous manner.

As the saying goes, measure twice and cut once.

As a labour government, our guiding principle is the upliftment of Bermudian workers, no matter their profession.

Protecting the workers goes hand in hand with Bermudians, themselves, ensuring they have the required skills and qualifications to fill the wide range of jobs available. This government’s job is to provide reasonable avenues and access to funding for citizens to achieve those qualifications.

Global Realities

Our financial sector is constantly under threat by external forces such as; the UK, OECD and EU regulations.

Accordingly, many firms have begun redomiciling their operations back to the United States, United Kingdom and Continental Europe.

Another threat to our financial sector is that there are constant mergers and consolidations of major firms. As prime example, recently Tokio Millennium was purchased by Rennaisance Re, with a net loss of approximately 30 jobs.

Unfortunately, neither of those above mentioned issues are likely to cease anytime soon.

This simply means that our IB sector may continue to shrink, resulting in both guest workers and Bermudians looking at redundancies. The net result being less economic activity on island such as; rented office space, rented houses, vehicles on the road and groceries being purchased.

So when we hear the “parrot like” cry for “more boots on island”, the question has to be asked, “What industry will demand hundreds, if not thousands of new jobs / boots on island?”

That indeed, is the pertinent question, to which there is no clear answer from any sector.

To be perfectly clear, there is no legislation preventing investors from coming to Bermuda to invest in any business. There is, in fact, legislation that encourages it.

So where do we go from here?

Financial Technology

Let us have a read of what our cousins in the Cayman Islands have been up to shall we?

“We modernised our intellectual property and copyright laws and encouraged the growth of technology business,including financial technology or Fintech business. These efforts are paying off with the Cayman Islands becoming a jurisdiction of choice for fintech and similar businesses with digital assets…”

The private sector, including locally owned businesses such as Cayman Enterprise City and Tech Cayman, have embraced the opportunity and are attracting these businesses to our shores. Government continues to play a key role.”

Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin, Cayman Compass December 30,2018

As shown above, the very same Cayman Islands, that Michael Fahy tells us to be like, is pursuing Fintech as their third economic leg.

Here are some recent quotes by Sir John Swan about Fintech in the media on February 1, 2019:

“Fintech and blockchain technologies have great promise for Bermuda if we get it right and I think we can.

“That is why we must support the Government in their efforts to bring the industry here. I am giving support where I can and ask everyone to do the same.”

So will those same critics, such as former Premier Michael Dunkley, now say Sir John has no idea of what he is talking about?

Is Fintech the silver bullet to save us?

Again, being brutally honest the answer will be, No. But should we dissuade businesses from coming here?

Back to basics

We have to look back at what made us succeed as individuals, families, and communities.

At present, we have a large proportion of guest workers in job categories that Bermudians previously dominated, such as; auto mechanics, barbering, construction and hospitality, to name a few.

Let’s think about it like this, if there are 350 auto mechanics working full time, then that indicates a clear demand for this profession.

However, as less and less Bermudians get trained and qualified for these jobs, then more and more guest workers will be brought in to do jobs that we ourselves should be doing.

As a prime example, recent statistics show that in 2018 over 100 additional Bermudians secured full time employment in the hospitality sector. If we can see progressive movement in that sector, we should, with concerted efforts, see the same positive results in other sectors such as; accounting, barbering, construction and plumbing, if and only if, we get our people, especially our young persons, interested in these fields.

There are plenty of professions that provide stable and economically fulfilling rewards. Occupations that can, in actuality, lead to six figure incomes and eventual business ownership.

National Transformation

Our mission is to bring transformation to our people by implementing progressive programmes such as; more funding for Bermudians to retool at the Bermuda college, work release for high school students, more government contracts allocated to small business and compehensive immigration policies, that truly put Bermudians first.

It is for our Bermudian people, to take advantage of these transformational programs.

- Chris Famous, a PLP MP, can be contacted via email at Carib_pro@yahoo.com or Whatsapp 441-599-0901

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Comments (5)

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  1. Retro says:

    That doesn’t sound like immigration reform . The real pertinent question, MP Famous or anybody else, is why don’t you believe that real world economic policies , like growing your tax base/ population, applies to Bermuda also. After all we have real world social problems that can be attributed to a poor economy so why can’t we do the basics to improve the economy rather than hoping for some crypto miracle ?

  2. truthertz says:

    You mean tax the living daylights out of Bermudians first!

  3. 2 Bermudas says:

    What the Pee El Pee fail to consider are the people who are already here with ideas and capital to start new business, but they won’t because they have no rights!! Detz how you create industries, ding dong!! Hahahahaha!!!

  4. road rash says:

    The bottom line is that it took a new minister to free up the backlog of permits, despite the immigration reform group presenting its report more than a year ago, there has been no further progress, one minister has left immigration because he was not up to the job, and nothing has changed in the anti-expat rhetoric the PLP displayed before the election.
    There is spare office space for about 4,000 people, the Premier has, on the record, spoken of the need to increase the resident population (maybe to as much as 80,000 people), every expat working here helps to spread the cost of health and contributes to the tax base, meaning less is imposed on Bermudians, they are generally job creators.
    The PLP has been like a rabbit in the headlights when it comes to immigration – one side of the party knows there is a need to increase resident population another does not.

  5. DeOnion says:

    Sir, please, specifically spell out the PLP’s immigration policy.

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