Real estate market mentioned most in survey
Hundreds of people who responded to a Cayman Islands government survey on the impacts of the seven-year term limit on foreign workers have provided a unique insight as to how that policy – often referred to as the rollover – has affected them.
The responses contained in the Term Limit Review Committee’s 105-page report are sometimes illuminating, sometimes sad and a few are a bit off the beaten track.
“Lost my girlfriend,” one commenter stated [all comments were recorded anonymously]. “Immigration said to me, marry my ex-wife or she has to go. So, I married her, 13-years later, she takes a ton from me. Why do I have to marry a girl in order to keep her here with me?”
“My gardener got rolled over and the yard went to hell,” another survey respondent said.
“The generic regression model to test the impact of immigration on local labour market outcomes is [Borjas] (1999a, p 1735) Y js (t,t’) = m js (t, t’) + X js ‘a + U js (t, t’),” a third respondent indicated.
According to review committee chairperson Sherri Bodden-Cowan, submissions for the team’s survey come from 761 individuals and 97 businesses across the Cayman Islands and represent a broad cross-section of residents. Fifty-three per cent of the individual surveys were filled out by Caymanians, their spouses or dependants. Thirty-six per cent of the individual survey takers identified themselves as originally being from the Cayman Islands.
What is perhaps more unusual is significant participation from those generally considered politically voiceless in the community. Work permit holders made up 20 per cent of the respondents in the survey, while non-Caymanian government contract holders put in 16 per cent of the responses. Another 11 per cent of unidentified “other” non-Caymanians rounded out the survey taking.
The survey responses did not identify whether the commenters in each instance were Caymanian or non-Caymanian. However, one issue that appeared to be of major concern for everyone was the state of the territory’s real estate market.
“Lost tenants,” said one respondent simply, responding to the economic effects of the term limit policy.
A number of other comments took issue with various aspects of the real estate market, both rentals and property.
“We’re hesitant to invest in real estate because of the impact of a possible rollover.”
“I have had to assume the task of helping a good friend leaving the Island. I have to take care of her condo and other household items until it will sell. Unfortunately, thanks to the rollover debacle, nothing is selling.”
“Rollover means no incentive to invest on-Island, much better off renting until tenure is secured, rent is going to an American citizen living in the US.”
“Due to inability to provide some prospects of any long-term stability, I have made little or no investments locally.”
“I have lost BIG TIME on rental properties!! One place, with a $915/month mortgage is renting for $600!!! I have four rental units any the rents are now almost half what they were two years ago.”
“Loss of rental income possibly impacted by less expatriates within the housing market.”
A number of commenters also noted the social impacts the rollover policy has created within the Cayman Islands.
“Work permits and key employee/permanent residence and ultimately status are given too freely to persons with no regard to the long-term future of the Islands and their people,” one commenter said.
“The rollover will destroy my life as I have given 14 years to this Island,” another person wrote. “I work as a special constable for the last five years; have made this my home and now you want to kick me out.”
“I’ll be losing my job, my home and my pets, plus the entire Caymanian family I have become a part of since moving here – they are all amazed and disappointed to find that as a UK citizen, I still get rollover over,” one person said.
“This situation has led to the following: a general feeling of insecurity, a feeling of non-belonging anymore in the land of my birth and heritage … fear that our tiny infrastructure will not be able to cope with the burden of the numbers placed upon it.”