Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush accused the ruling People’s Progressive Movement of adopting an economical harmful ‘goodbye policy’ concerning immigration during his contribution to the Budget Debate last week.
‘Countless letters have been sent out by the various boards appointed by the PPM indicating to people that they have to leave because their time is up or would soon be up and that they should prepare to leave the island,’ Mr. Bush said.
‘Untold numbers have left; untold numbers are planning to leave. Businesses in every area of our economy are suffering,’ he said. ‘We are losing good teachers, healthcare workers, people who have loyally looked after our children, people in construction, tourism, service and people in the financial industry.’
Mr. Bush said Cayman depended on people to make the economy work.
‘We are not a manufacturing based economy,’ he said. ‘We are merely a service economy and… no service economy can operate without people.’
Mr. Bush asked where the people would come from to carry out the work on the $130 million of capital projects planned in the budget.
‘Government at its supporters will be the only people with the labour at the rate the PPM is releasing goodbye letters from the Immigration Department,’ he said. ‘And if the Boards appointed by the PPM are not carrying out the PPM policies, then whose policies are they carrying out?’
Mr. Bush also said that the proposed budget shifted financial burden to foreigners who he said would not happy to be singled out for payment of the majority of the revenue measures.
‘As our industries price themselves out of the market and the business which Cayman once attracted is back-officed into other jurisdictions, our people and our economy will suffer,’ he said.
Mr. Bush noted the high cost of living in Cayman was making it difficult for companies to recruit sufficient labour.
‘As one can see from the advertisements in the paper there are numerous foreign companies advertising for the labour that exists in the Cayman Islands and we are still busily issuing good-bye letters on a daily basis,’ he said.
Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin responded to some of Mr. Bush’s comments during his contribution to the debate.
‘A point will come when Cayman will become too expensive a jurisdiction for businesses to operate if we’re not careful,’ he said. ‘The Government is sensitive to that, which is why, way before we brought this Budget to the House, we extensively consulted with the private sector.’
Mr. McLaughlin said Mr. Bush was trying to create doubts about the Government’s immigration policy.
Problems with the Immigration Law 2003 were caused because the legislation was rushed to take effect 1 January 2004, Mr. McLaughlin said, adding that the Government was not going to rush through the changes.
‘We’re working as hard as we can and striving to get it right,’ he said.