The rollover editorial in the Compass clearly illustrates the woolly and muddled rhetoric commonly heard concerning the rollover policy.
It states ‘So far there are still more Caymanians than ex pats. But if the rollover policy is abandoned, the numbers will reverse.’
This is nonsense.
Unless the economy contracts, the rollover policy will have no effect on the number of ex pat workers; it merely replaces longer term ex pats with fresh ex pats.
And there is no single cogent argument in any area of the economy that fresh workers will provide a better service to the public than experienced longer term residents.
Why would anyone want to have a doctor, teacher, nurse, lawyer, accountant, carpenter, plumber, gardener or helper who is fresh off the boat in preference to one with experience of the Islands?
The issue of foreigners imposing their culture on Cayman is also a red herring, as this will happen if foreigners come to Cayman, whether they are rolled over or not.
The true purpose of the rollover policy obviously has nothing to do with economics or culture; it is purely intended to reduce the numbers of ex pats who may be granted status. Ironically, if more ex pats are given status, then the ratio of Caymanians to ex pats will increase, rather than decrease as the Compass fears.
The real issue behind the rollover policy and many other immigration matters is that status holders are, in some way, not considered to be real Caymanians.
More insidiously, it is also argued that their children and grandchildren will not be real Caymanians either, notwithstanding that they may have been born and raised in the Islands.
Assimilation and acceptance, not rollover, is the answer.
The tragedy is that the rollover policy has the potential to drive away from Cayman much of the financial services industry, with qualified professionals not only leaving, but taking their expertise and contacts with them to help competitor offshore centres.
The argument that ex pats are taking Caymanian jobs is fallacious. If financial services ex pats leave, then they will take not only their own jobs with them, but many positions currently occupied by Caymanians will also vanish.
If this happens, then the Compass will have been proved right, as the ex pat population will reduce, but this cannot be in the best interests of either Caymanians or ex pats.
A prosperous economic future for the Cayman Islands requires the continued cooperation and efforts of Caymanians and ex pats working together.
The ready granting of permanent residence would enable the recruitment and retention of the talent needed for Cayman to continue its economic success without transferring political power from its present base; surely a worthwhile compromise for both sides to agree on?