Today’s Editorial for March 4: People leaving Cayman

Two stories on the front page of today’s newspaper speak of expatriates leaving the Cayman Islands.

One story, which details a sudden drop in work permits in just a six-week period this year, notes that several important employment positions in the financial services sector have seen decreases in work permits, including lawyers, accountants and auditors.

But it also tells about losses of teachers, sales representatives, architects, construction engineers and non-professional commercial managers.

Another story on the front page details personnel losses at the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services. Many of those losses were officers from the United Kingdom who resigned before their contracts were up.

One reason some expatriates are leaving undoubtedly concerns the nosedive of the world economy. Businesses across many sectors are cutting staff because of reduced revenues and when an expat employee gets laid off, he or she most often leaves the island.

There could also be other reasons for people leaving, including the high cost of living and reduced earning potential. Or, as might be the case with the RCIPS, it might have something to do with an organisation’s internal situation.

Of course, protectionists might find the fact expatriates are leaving a good thing because it opens more jobs for Caymanians. In some cases, this could be true; in other cases however, the positions might have been made redundant with no replacements sought.

In either case, there has to be an effect on the economy if the population of Cayman contracts. Fewer people mean less money being spent on Island. This is especially true of people in the financial services industry, who not only make more money, but spend a good percentage of their earning here on Island.

Having fewer people will make operating a business here more difficult because slices of the consumer spending pie get smaller. We are already hearing from Caymanian business owners who are saying that times are tough. Unfortunately, they’re likely to get tougher before they get better.

For business owners, it will be a matter of survival of the fittest during the course of the year. Some of those that don’t have good management practices to run efficiently will fail; people leaving Cayman without being replaced virtually ensure that.

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