No shame in wanting to put your people first
It is always interesting, sadly interesting, to see or hear people call Bermudians xenophobic or protectionist, simply because they wish to ensure the best for themselves, their families and their fellow Bermudians.
A recent article in The Royal Gazette on May 28 titled: “Bermudians-first immigration mantra repeated” spoke about the present government’s efforts to reform immigration to bring balance, with an emphasis on Bermudians.
Wayne Caines, the minister responsible for immigration, stated the following:
“All reform must centre around the premise of Bermudians having a place of primacy in their homeland ... we believe any and all immigration reform should increase opportunities for Bermudians.”
Like clockwork, the following statements appeared in the comment sections:
“It feels like it can (maybe already has) turn into a case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.” Kim Smith
“Apart from broadening the tax, pension and healthcare load, we seriously need to increase the gene pool given the level of intellect and inbreeding of many of us Bermudians. I point no fingers!!” Jet Black
The narrative that is seemingly being painted is that it is wrong to want to put Bermudians first in their own country, and that it is only in Bermuda does the Government look to put their people first. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In our fellow overseas territory of the British Virgin Islands the Premier, Andrew Fahie, has recently made the following statement on the bvinews.com website on May 27:
“We have some new investment programmes coming and we are going to welcome investors. But we also made something clear today in Cabinet that it ain’t going to be the old-time investing.
“They have to make sure — and we have to make sure through labour reform and immigration reform — that the senior posts when you come to invest, your company going to have our people in those senior posts.
“So once you come, we are going to give you some incentives, but you are going to give us some major things too.”
Is he wrong for wishing to ensure his qualified Virgin Islanders are fully employed?
Again, like clockwork, the comments almost mirror what we see in Bermuda.
“Great way to get money flowing into the BVI — not!
“So let me just get this straight, you want investors to put their money up and oh, by the way give everyone in the BVI a senior business position for which they have no experience, sounds ludicrous. What happens when money stops flowing in, you still going to demand that senior position. You guys sound like liberal Americans.” Michael
“And what are these qualified persons doing now? Counting paper clips and surfing the internet in a GOVT job does not really suggest that a person is qualified to be a manager in the private sector!”
One could easily be forgiven if they thought these negative bloggers on BVI websites are the same persons blogging on Bermudian websites.
Arguably, to have a stable economy based on financial services, both Bermuda and the BVI have to be inviting to investors and their requisite staff.
The recent Economic Substance Acts speak to opening the doors for increased physical presence of qualified staff on island.
Equally, qualified locals must feel and be welcomed into these entities.
Let us not forget that there are plenty of other industries where Bermudians are facing the short end of the stick when it comes to attaining jobs.
Hence, the dire need for well thought-out comprehensive immigration reform.
Beginning this month, hundreds, if not thousands, of students of all hues in both Bermuda and the Virgin Islands will be graduating from universities from around the world. This is the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice by both the students and their families.
The logical expectation is that those qualified students should seek and find employment in their own countries.
It will be incredulous for anyone to state that these persons should simply wait at the back of the line.
• Christopher Famous is a government backbencher and the MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at email@example.com