By Christopher Famous
“The truth is an offence, but not a sin”
During the lead-up to the 2012 election, I wrote a piece in the Bermuda Sun titled “Term limits are in place to put us Bermudians first
”. It pointed out the fairly obvious desire of the OBA to eliminate term limits.
Canaries in the coal mine
Christopher Famous is a Caribbean real estate developer and business owner. Raised in various Caribbean islands such as; Bermuda, Jamaica, St Eustatius and St Kitts and Tortola. He has a weekly social and political column in The Bermuda Sun. Feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shortly after that, I was approached via Facebook by Doug Soares of Expertise Ltd. Expertise Ltd is one of Bermuda’s largest human resource company and specializes in recruitment, immigration processing and relocation. They have an office in the Philippines that outsources Bermudian jobs for large companies.
During a few inbox exchanges, Doug spoke about the need for Bermuda to temporarily suspend term limits. He essentially stated that we should trust that the OBA would not abolish term limits, and that all will be fine for Bermudians.
In January 2013, I met with Richard Winchell, the then president of ABIC, to discuss term limits. He basically repeated the same claim of Doug Soares that the OBA will only suspend term limits and all will be well for Bermudians.
Well, we know how that turned out. The OBA did not tell the truth, and abolished term limits all together. It would appear that some folks may have known the true intention of the OBA, but attempted to paint it in a different light.
In the lead-up to the 2012 election, Michael Dunkley and Craig Cannonier were both asked if the OBA intended to allow PRC holders to gain Bermudian status. They both denied that the OBA would do so.
In September 2013, Minister Fahy asked the source of my figures on the number of PRC holders. I stated to him that they are official government figures from the 2010 Census. So it would seem that the OBA was contemplating granting status at that point.
Suddenly the OBA is now attempting to equate this as a human rights concern, and even went as far as comparing it to a refugee situation. For the record, PRCs are not stateless and still maintain citizenship in their home country.
Let’s take a look at the ramifications of thousands of persons gaining Bermudian status:
Currently there is an immigration policy that dictates a hiring hierarchy:
• Spouses of Bermudians
• PRC holders
• Work permit holders
Currently, an estimated 4,000 Bermudians are unemployed. The Bermudian youth unemployment rate is approximately 38%.
According to the 2013 Labour Force Survey:
• Unemployment rates among Bermudians (7%), among PRCs (2%)
• PRC median income -- $81,601 versus Bermudian median income -- $58,640
• PRC underemployment – 9.5% versus Bermudian underemployment – 17.5%
Granting status to PRC holders would place them in direct competition with Bermudians for employment. Is this fair to Bermudians?
Approximately 38% of our residential lands are owned by non-Bermudian. Legislation is currently in place to restrict property ownership by PRCs. With status comes the removal of such restrictions and unlimited access to property ownership. Is this fair to future generations of Bermudians?
The OBA promised to create a pathway to status for children born in Bermuda to guest-worker parents. If these children, along with the children of PRCs, are granted status, they would now be able to actively compete for higher education scholarship funding. With the OBA slashing financial-need based scholarships from $750k to $40k, is this fair to Bermudian students?
The OBA has misled Bermudians on several issues:
• Term limits
• Jet Gate
• Lamb Foggo
• Cutting seniors benefits
• Creating jobs
• Lowering national debt
Silence is deafening
On this issue, which affects every Bermudian, Minister Fahy, who is responsible for immigration, has been painfully silent. The OBA is not telling Bermudians the full truth on the ramification for Bermudians by granting status to PRC holders.
The OBA clearly is not acting in the best interest of Bermudians.
Therefore, Bermudians must stand up for themselves without apologies.