Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin’s suggestion to eliminate a seven-year term limit on foreign workers’ residence in the Cayman Islands received much support in the latest www.caycompass.com online poll.
Of the 494 people who took the poll, 57.9 per cent said the rollover should be totally eliminated; 17 per cent said leave it as it is; 16.2 per cent said keep the policy, but relax the seven year limit on foreign workers’ residence; and 6.3 per cent said keep the rollover but reduce the seven year term limit.
Term limits on foreign workers’ residence became law on 1 January, 2004, under the United Democratic Party government. The People’s Progressive Movement had an opportunity to toss the rollover policy when it came into power in 2005, but made clear at that time that rollover would not be abandoned.
A sceptic could say that the PPM’s previous views might cast doubt on its leader’s current pronouncements. Time will tell whether Mr. McLaughlin truly has the courage of his convictions or if he is just fishing for votes.
Mr. McLaughlin proposes that every foreign worker who stays here eight years consecutively becomes eligible to apply for permanent residence. They would have to apply for it before their 10th year on Island. People would still have to qualify for permanent residence under the ‘100 point system’, but the requirement for companies to apply for workers’ key employee status would be eliminated.
It is clear that the rollover policy has failed to protect Caymanian jobs. it is also clear that Cayman’s economy has suffered during the implementation of this policy.
However, Cayman must take steps to ensure that only the right kind of expat is allowed to remain in the country and that jobs are available to Caymanians first.
Mr. McLaughlin’s proposal may or may not fix all these problems. But the current system obviously isn’t working.
Maybe its time to try something else?