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Commentary: Put Bermudians first
Published on September 5, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Eron Hill

As a young person growing up in Bermuda, it is imperative to know that the government of the day is making decisions that will pave the way for a better and brighter future for Bermudians. However the actions, or lack thereof of the government of the day, force one to seriously question whether or not Bermudians, especially the future generation, are being earnestly considered.

Term Limits

The One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) promised in their campaign pre-election that they would suspend term limits for two years. On January 30, 2013, Minister Michael Fahy eliminated the term limit policy “with immediate effect.”

eron_hill.jpg
Eron Hill is a former member of the Bermuda youth parliament and is currently a legal understudy at a local law form pursuing his law degree
Under the term limits policy, work permit holders who had worked for six years or more, were not entitled to a renewal of their work permit. The OBA’s decision to eliminate the term limit policy opened the floodgates for non-Bermudians to remain in Bermuda with constant renewal of their work permit.

This has created and is continuing to create increased competition for Bermudians, who struggle to find work against their non-Bermudian counterparts that have guaranteed jobs via a contract that may be constantly renewed.

Whilst I am fully cognizant of the necessity for expatriate workers in Bermuda and the valuable contributions some provide to our society; I am also equally aware of many qualified and capable Bermudians that are not afforded positions as result of them being filled by guest workers.

Should not Bermudians have priority in Bermuda?

Do they care about us?

Job Makers Act

On September 28, 2013, the OBA approved the Incentives for Job Makers Act 2013 that decreased the fee for a Permanent Residency Certificate (PRC) from $120,000 to $25,000. This is a slash of up to almost $100,000. This begs the question: does this government truly value the price for one to have the opportunity and privilege to have a permanent position in this country? Or is this government willing to sell Bermuda cheap? The actions of the OBA to date would seem to suggest the latter.

Do they care about us?

The Companies Act Amendment 2014

On March 21, 2014, the OBA amended the Companies Act of 1981. This allowed both international and local companies to purchase Bermudian properties and undeveloped land.

Prior to the amendment the ownerships by non-Bermudians was restricted, as they could not purchase undeveloped land and could only own one property. The purchases they could make were limited to condominiums and properties with an established minimum annual rental value.

With these amendments, companies will now be able to purchase undeveloped land and will be able to own an unlimited number of the restricted properties. As a result there will be less open land available for Bermudians; and the daunting reality that many Bermudians landlords will lose tenants as they will be now housed by their employers.

More worrisome is that decisions related to restricted business activity and corporate land holding will no longer be brought to the House of Assembly. The OBA cabinet alone now has sole and decisive control over decisions pertaining to corporate land holding.

This does not benefit my generation, who will now have to compete with corporate entities in order to purchase our first home.

Do they care about us?

Bermudian Status

On June 6, 2014, every OBA MP in the House of Assembly voted against an amendment that would have plugged the loophole identified by the Chief Justice in a May 2014 ruling in the Supreme Court that could see thousands of PRC holders obtain Bermudian status. This amendment had proposed to ensure the law was aligned with what had been government policy for 25 years.

On Wednesday July 23, 2014, without any transparent public discussion or consultation, Senator Michael Fahy made an announcement that OBA would drop the appeal, thus opening the door for thousands of PRC holders to apply for Bermudian status.

Do they care about us?

Are Bermudians valued in Bermuda?

In my humble opinion, the actions being taken by this government are slowly but surely displacing Bermudians for non-Bermudians in our own island.

Many of my peers now express major concerns about our future prospects in Bermuda.

These are but only a few of the actions by the OBA that cause us to question whether they are truly for Bermudians. As a young person I seriously question whether or not Bermudians are being put first in our own country?

“All I wanna say is they don’t really care about us” - Michael Jackson, They Don’t Care About Us
 
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