Today’s Editorial for January 18: Work permit services needed

Many
business owners were probably cursing and tearing their hair out over the
weekend upon seeing the increased work permit fees put forth by the government.

The
fees are not a welcome sight at any time, and particularly not in a time of
harsh economic decline occurring both locally and worldwide.

However,
we will go ahead and make what might be a dangerous assumption in stating most
businesses will accept the permit fees as long as two things happen in rapid
succession:

The Cayman Islands work permit
system gets its act together and starts issuing permits in an efficient and
timely manner.

There is a real and tangible
effort to reduce the burgeoning size of Cayman’s government.

We
firmly believe that many businesses will pay more for surety. If the peace of
mind that needed work permits will be processed without delay or interference
from government boards/agencies is purchased with the increased fees – well,
that’s fine and dandy.

However,
there is no sign whatsoever that this is happening. Indeed, reports we’ve
received from various businesses around Cayman indicate just the opposite –
that work permit regimes are tightening and becoming more difficult for businesses
to operate under.

Also,
there is the issue of government largesse.

While
we wonder somewhat about Cayman Finance Chairman Anthony Travers’ comments concerning
the work permit fee increases being “temporary,” Mr. Travers does make a good
point regarding reducing government size. That needs to happen now.

The
Cayman Islands government cannot tell businesses, either international or
local, that they must continue to pay increased fees to support government
expenditures that elected members dare not touch for fear of losing their seat
in the Legislative Assembly.

If
that does occur, we fear the response will be the departure of those businesses
altogether or the outsourcing of jobs to other cheaper jurisdictions where
those positions will almost certainly not go to Caymanians.

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