Today’s Editorial March 06: Government takes up permit issue

Government has heard the hue and cry of business owners in the Cayman Islands and is taking action.

A bill is to be taken to the Legislative Assembly today that would allow people whose final work permit has expired under the seven-year term limit to apply for an extra nine-month work permit.

If Members of the Legislative Assembly approve the measure, it would be valid only until the end of this year.

While the measure may not be exactly what is needed to fix the perceived problem of the roll over policy in the Immigration Law, it is a step in the right direction.

It proves to all that Government is aware that some businesses are suffering because of the seven-year term limit put on work permit holders and it is willing to lend a helping hand.

The objective of the bill is to alleviate any short term hardship encountered by employers in the operation of the businesses as a result of the term limit provision.

What’s happening with the provision is that many businesses are losing vast quantities of employees at one time.

When the Immigration Law was passed, no one anticipated Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. When businesses should have been making plans for those employees that would fall under the seven-year term limit, they instead were trying to rebuild their lives and businesses that were damaged or destroyed in the storm.

It’s unfortunate timing that the provision is hitting so many businesses at one time.

But term limits are necessary.

If we don’t have them, we’ll lose the identity of the Cayman Islands.

People who come to work in the Cayman Islands under work permits are fully aware at the time of sign-up that the position is not permanent.

The reason we allow work permits is so that professionals can be hired to keep the economy of the Cayman Islands sustainable.

It is the job of those work permit holders to help train Caymanians in their expertise so Caymanians can successfully enter the workforce.

Immigration doesn’t need to be ground to a halt in the Cayman Islands, but it must be slowed.

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