By Christopher Famous
On July 23, 2014, the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) did exactly as many have been predicted by announcing its plan to grant status to thousands of non-Bermudians.
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
Having been on the United Bermuda Party (UBP) wish list for decades, the OBA has finally boldly declared its true intentions to increase its voter base.
In his ministerial statement on the OBA's decision to allow the granting of status to Permanent Residents' Certificate (PRC) holders, Minister Michael Fahy stated:
1. “Immigration records indicate that 1,455 PRCs are potentially eligible for status under Section 20B of the Act. We do not know how many children of these PRC holders are eligible for status, but believe the number is minimal – possibly a few hundred.”
Minister Fahy is purposely not telling Bermudians that:
• there are up to 1,237 spouses of PRC holders who will receive status within ten years.
• there are approximately 2,960 children of PRC holders.
So let’s do the math: 1,237 spouses and up to 2,960 children of PRC holders. That equals to a potential 4,200 additional persons receiving status over the next ten years.
Why did Minister Fahy not mention those numbers?
2. “PRCs already have the right to live and work in Bermuda. They have full freedom of employment, free of immigration control… the granting of status to PRCs would eliminate workplace protections for the hiring of Bermudians first. No such protections exist.”
A policy guideline for employers that was produced in April 2013 by Minister Fahy’s Ministry of Home Affairs (Department of Immigration) clearly states that:
“it is expected that employers will fill jobs in Bermuda in the following order:
• non-Bermudian spouse (including the widow or widower) of a Bermudian
• divorced parent of a Bermudian
• Permanent Residents’ Certificate holder
• non-Bermudian with a qualifying Bermudian connection
• other non-Bermudians”
Why is Minister Fahy misleading the people of Bermuda about the existence of this policy?
3. “it is very possible that new status holders will look to buy a home and that those purchases as they happen may cause the market value of people’s homes to rise.”
So how does this bode for Bermudians who are attempting to save to purchase property when prices will rise? The OBA is clearly not looking out for the aspirations of Bermudians who are struggling to purchase their first home.
Coupled with their recently amended Companies Act 2014, which allows foreign companies to buy our residential-zoned land, the OBA has clearly shown that it wishes to empower non-Bermudians to own more property in Bermuda. Let's not forget that current government estimates are that 38% of our residential-zoned property is already owned by non-Bermudians.
Disregarding Bermudians again
Minister Fahy has held no meetings to present facts to the Bermudian people and engage in public dialogue. Like the removal of term-limits, once again Minister Fahy is making decisions that benefit non-Bermudians at the expense of Bermudians with none of the OBA's promised collaboration and transparency.
Minister Fahy is also conveniently failing to mention that with the removal of Term Limits, Bermuda is now facing a new wave of up to 7,500 guest workers who will one day potentially demand that they be granted residency rights and then eventually full Bermudian Status.
It is clear that the OBA is committed to opening up immigration for non-Bermudians to claim Bermudian Status whilst showing zero concern about those Bermudians who are forced to leave Bermuda to reside overseas.
There is an ongoing pattern emerging that runs counter to the best interests of Bermudians:
• Abolition of term limits
• Cancelling of referendum
• Plans for privatization of government jobs
• Cutting government scholarships from $760,000 down to $40,000
• The ongoing JetGate scandal, including Senator Fahy's connection with OBA's secret underground election campaign
Bermudians were promised openness and transparency by the OBA. Instead we are forced to endure one secret deal after the other. The motives of the OBA are now crystal clear.
“And If I have to make it easier for rich white people to own land in Bermuda that is fine!”
-- MP Bob Richards HoA, March 1, 2013.