When it comes to expatriates, the
government seems to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth.
On one hand we have heard Premier
McKeeva Bush repeatedly say that Cayman needs people – which means expatriates
– for the economy to thrive. He has said Cayman needs to give to get. He has
said Cayman can’t have protectionist policies if it wants to attract and retain
On the other hand, the government
has just unanimously supported a motion, which advocates a policy designating
certain jobs be held by Caymanians only.
Although we agree with opposition
MLA Alden McLaughlin that there can be no future for Cayman if it does not
include those who are from here, surely there are better ways of attaining that
without additional protectionist policies.
The Immigration Law already
specifies that work permits are only granted if there are no able and willing
Caymanians to fill a position, so it doesn’t make sense to designate positions
for which only Caymanians can fill. Creating more bureaucracy to further
protect Caymanians simply sends a mixed message to the private sector about the
government’s willingness to support business.
Ultimately, businesses have to be
able to hire the people they need to be profitable. If that doesn’t happen,
they close down – or they never open at all. That helps no one – Caymanians or
In addition, having a policy or
legislation in place that says a particular job can only be held by Caymanians
is rather insulting to Caymanians capable and qualified for the job because
there will always be an assumption that they didn’t actually earn the position.
The way forward in not through more
protectionism, but through ensuring young Caymanians, when they are educated, are
given the skill sets, work ethic and attitude to succeed in the work place
against all competition – including expatriates. Caymanians are already given
one major advantage in that employers don’t have to pay work permit fees when
they hire them. That, along with competence, hard work and a good attitude,
should be plenty to ensure Cayman’s future includes the people from here.