Too much of the lucrative financial industry has already moved part or all of its operations on to Halifax, Ireland and other parts of Europe, because of rigid immigration policies and fear that Caymanians are missing opportunities, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said last week.
‘Immigration has always been the problem child,’ Mr. Bush said at the recent grand opening of Fidelity Financial Centre. ‘We can’t allow it to be our doom. We must allow outsiders to come in. We must work with people from all walks of life.’
To turn around the economy, government needs to keep companies from moving its operations to other jurisdictions, said Mr. Bush. Furthermore, the country needs to attract outside investment into the country, because that is what creates jobs for Caymanians.
The country cannot grow and sustain development without foreign investment, said Mr. Bush.
Referring to people calling into radio talk shows outraged that foreign workers are getting promotions or jobs while Caymanians are getting shut out, Mr Bush asked citizens to understand that it is good to be a nationalist, but they have to have common sense nationalism. He also stated recent headlines in newspapers and blogs have escalated the impression that Caymanians do not want foreign workers.
‘What good is a financial or accounting degree when there is no work to do?’ said Mr. Bush.
‘We are going to make sure Caymanians are trained and have opportunity for upward mobility. But we must continue to be welcoming in and outside of workplace,’ he added.
There have been at least two firms in the financial industry that have or were in the process of moving part of their operations to Canada and the UK. However, neither firm has stated that it was because of immigration policies.
The issue of whether foreign workers were getting jobs as the expense of Caymanians came up recently within the music industry. Education Minister Rolston Anglin stated that government would look into non-Caymanian teachers and other permit holders getting music gigs while Caymanian musicians appeared to be losing out.
All of the elected Cabinet ministers’ positions, including the Leader of Government Business, are held by the United Democratic Party government.
When asked to speak on the UDP’s official position on protection for jobs and upward mobility for Caymanians, spokesman Ellio Solomon stated by email:
‘Every available resource of the Cayman Islands Government will be used during (the UDP) administration to create jobs for Caymanians, protect Caymanians within those jobs, and provide them with opportunities for the upward mobility,’ Mr. Solomon wrote.
He further added the UDP is aware that immigration policies must address the unique challenges faced by the financial industry to ensure it remains competitive in the global arena and growth and at the same time, achieves employment employment objectives for Caymanians.
‘UDP understands the need for transient workers and believes that when properly managed this need does not run contrary with the desired employment objectives but rather aids in creating jobs, and providing opportunities for the upward mobility of Caymanians,” added Mr. Solomon.