Rollover letter was a rant

While I am somewhat sympathetic to the Government’s rollover policy, Ezzard Miller’s letter to this newspaper published on 14th January is more of a rant than a reflection of reality.

I will confine my comments to two sentences in his letter.

Ezzard Miller states that ‘Qualified Caymanians with five years of relevant industry experience are regularly passed over and ignored by foreign management to promote non-Caymanians who have zero knowledge and experience.’

My firm employs both Caymanians and non-Caymanians.

We would far rather employ an equally qualified and experienced Caymanian over a non-Caymanian. The same applies to all rational, intelligent business owners.

Apart from the incremental cost of work permit fees incurred when hiring a non-Caymanian, there is the difficult-to-quantify cost of a huge amount of senior management time that is consumed dealing with Immigration Department matters.

Then there is the uncertainty that after seven years of building relationships with clients and learning your business, is the non-Caymanian employee going to be rolled over? Or is their spouse going to get homesick and wish to return after only a few years to whence they came?

The Caymanian employee is here to stay.

I would go so far as to say that an equally qualified and experienced Caymanian is likely to command a higher salary than his non-Caymanian counterpart for the reasons mentioned above.

In the following paragraph Mr. Miller states that ‘The rollover policy is in many respects already negated by the provision in the law of key employee and the qualification to be certified as such is so broad and easy that most of the 24,685 persons on work permits in 2006 can qualify.’

Anecdotally, Mr. Miller’s assertion does not ring true.

With Mr. Miller’s seeming access to a plethora of work permit data and his sprinkling of statistical data on the subject, making such a bold blanket statement seems a little careless without having any support from statistical data.

A major part of the solution to the disenchantment by some Caymanians that non-Caymanians hold many of the senior management positions in commerce is to improve educational opportunities for Caymanians.

For the past nine months my firm has been offering a full scholarship worth C$20,000 per annum to attend Bishop’s University in Canada, which I attended nearly 25 years ago.

The scholarship covers the cost of tuition, residence, books, a meal plan, and compulsory fees.

The scholarship is only available to Caymanians who are enrolled in any school in the Cayman Islands.

Preference will be given to students wishing to major in business. Consideration will be given to the financial ability of the student to pay international student fees.

Disappointingly, in spite of assistance from the Ministry of Education in publicising this scholarship, so far there has not been a single applicant for the scholarship.

Hopefully this letter will evoke an application from a bright, ambitious young Caymanian.

Any Caymanian student interested in applying for this scholarship should contact either the Department of Education or Bishop’s University.

Desmond Kinch