At the United Democratic Party’s celebration of McKeeva Bush becoming the Island’s first premier last Friday, Cayman’s elected leader devoted significant time in his keynote address to speak about immigration policies.
In particular, Mr. Bush reiterated a point he has consistently made for months now: The Cayman Islands must accept new people and new investment if it is to prosper in the future.
Earlier in the day, just after Mr. Bush had been sworn in as premier, he also devoted part of his acceptance speech to talk about the need for unity between Caymanians and expatriates.
It is telling that Mr. Bush felt it necessary to talk about immigration-related issues on a celebratory day that represented his attaining the pinnacle of his political career.
In the Cabinet press briefing last week, Mr. Bush noted that financial services industry companies are leaving Cayman for other jurisdictions and that one of their reasons for doing so were the immigration process.
Jobs – and even entire departments – have left Cayman for places like Halifax, Ireland and India. Jobs have also left the Cayman Islands for places like Leeds, England and Montreal, Canada, hardly mainstream centres for offshoring jobs at reduced costs.
Now we hear Cayman is losing jobs to Bermuda, one of its key competitors.
The harsh reality is that jobs have left and more will leave unless something is done about the implementation of Cayman’s immigration law.
When these jobs leave, they take with them people who spent money in the local economy. The loss of these people hurts companies that depend on residents for business, making it more difficult for them to survive. That in turn could actually cost Caymanians jobs.
There’s an old saying that it takes money to make money. The same holds true with jobs.
Mr. Bush understands this, yet we continue to hear about major financial services industry firms being denied work permits and key employee designations.
Unless the politically-appointed Immigration boards get on the same page as Mr. Bush, the current financial climate might become the new norm, rather than just a passing storm.