Mac calls for rollover reform

Former Premier McKeeva Bush has suggested the Cayman Islands should follow the lead of Bermuda and abandon the “rollover” policy compelling foreign workers to leave after seven years. 

Mr. Bush said the policy was damaging the islands’ economy and handing an advantage to competitors in other jurisdictions. 

Speaking at a United Democratic Party meeting in West Bay last Tuesday, Mr. Bush told supporters: “The misapplication of the rollover policies has created unemployment and hardship for our people.  

“You might say more people, more permits, less jobs. But when companies in the financial industry pull up their socks and leave then our secretaries, our clerks, our young Caymanian girls that work in those industries lose their job.” 

He added: “As most of you have read, Bermuda has abandoned its rollover policy and introduced alternative policies. 

“We have no time to waste and failure to address this issue will continue to affect our livelihood in an increasingly negative manner.” 

Mr. Bush was leader of the territory until December when he was forced out of office after being arrested in a corruption probe. He has yet to be charged with any crime and maintains his innocence. 

While in office he made no move to abandon the “rollover policy”. 

Speaking to the Caymanian Compass after the meeting, he said he had argued against the policy but had lacked support within his own administration to follow through. 

He said that despite his image as “some kind of dictator” he needed support from colleagues to push his ideas through. 

But he insisted the rollover policy was harming the Cayman Islands and should be dropped as part of a wider effort to rid the financial industry of the burden of red tape and excessive bureaucracy. 

“That is my personal position and as I said at the meeting it is something we have to address as a party,” he said. 

It is not clear if Mr. Bush would have the necessary support in a new UDP administration to end term limits.  

The party now has a very different make-up than when he was premier, with five key members breaking away to form a minority government.  

Mr. Bush said the policy was something the new group would have to discuss and agree on collectively. 

He made his personal opinions quite clear at Tuesday’s meeting, telling a crowd of around 300 supporters: “With our poor immigration policies we succeeded in getting viable economic activity in other people’s countries.  

“We need to change that situation. It needs to be reversed immediately.” 

He said the previous People’s Progressive Movement government had been responsible for increasing regulation and red tape while in power. 

“Our immigration policies must be attractive to investors while at the same time we ensure Caymanians and our young people are given priority for available positions,” Mr. Bush said. “This is not rocket science. Immigration must be and can be beneficial to all.” 

He said a new UDP administration would need to look at the whole issue of immigration, with the rollover policy just one part of the problem. 


  1. I have agreed with most things Mr Bush has said but I am not sure what to say about abandoning over the Rollover Policy, unless I see and hear of something else taking its place. My suggestion to Caymanians, is to stop selling off their homes and property to persons who are only on a permit here. The government should look into that. Whereby property can only be sold to persons who are Caymanians, whether they are paper Caymanians or not. That is my view. Remember we are only 21 miles and 9 miles wide, so how many homes can we build. This need to be halted seriously. Abandone the roll over, but stop the sale of property and homes to those persons on a work permit.

  2. Hunter… you need to take an economics course! Housing is # indicator of economic strength… it has an effect on related industries, such as banking, the mortgage sector, raw materials, employment, construction, manufacturing and real estate.

    also, who really cares what McKeeva has to say anyways? If his name is in the papers, i want to read about his pending charges not what he would have could have done

  3. If it was the ‘misapplication of the rollover policies’ that created unemployment and hardship for our people then Bush had 3 1/2 years as LOGB/Premier to have corrected that misapplication, or, as he now proposes, to abandon Rollover altogether. Of course Rollover is not a mere policy but is contained in the Immigration Law which was passed by Bush’s UDP government back in 2003 (with the support of the Opposition).

    This is nothing but a disingenuous attempt to win back the support of the financial industry having lost it in his expat payroll tax proposal. His political campaign may be a little short on funding this time.

    However, Cayman should not rush to imitate Bermuda. We have to remind ourselves why Rollover was created in the first place and whether the human rights concerns of persons residing here indefinitely without any permanent rights have suddenly vanished. I fully understand the principle of the 10 year Rollover which would allow everyone, and not simply key employees selected by employers as important to their businesses, to apply for Permanent Residence, but a move to revert to the pre-2004 quagmire is folly that we would come to regret.

  4. from what I understand or heard was that the roll-over policy was put in place because expats in positions of power were more likely to hire more expats and not locals… true or not I dont know but I do know that the WHOLE population of Cayman is expats. The orginal settlers where Europeans, followed by years of Jamaicans, Hondurans, Cubans, North and South Americans and Europeans etc… I’m sure when Mckeeva’s family immigrated here they didnt have to go through what todays expats have to endure.
    To compare Bermuda to Cayman is apples to oranges. Bermuda is a 1/5th the size of Cayman and has 40% more people, so capping growth is an issue, where Cayman is about 15% inhabited.. it makes no sense from a growth/economic perspective to turn away money, jobs etc.
    All the roll over did to Cayman was move large multi-national corps to other friendlier tax neutral juridictions… you can see it in housing/rental prices. No one is going to invest in Cayman with a time limit…. I used to rent my apt for 1800/mon and i now get 1100/mon

  5. I know one thing for sure, I do not want to be put on the brink of bankruptcy again like the situation the PPM left us in. I don’t mind the removal of the rollover policy Mr. Bush suggests as long as there are stricter controls as to who gets permanent residency. The one thing to remove for sure is the Key Employee policy as that is causing so many expats to dig in their heels and kick out Caymanians.

  6. I don’t know why he is talking at this stage!

    A mere SUGGESTION after you have been ousted is not enough, McKeeva! You should have ABOLISHED the rollover policy whilst you were in power!

  7. crisscross – rollover was put in place because it is thought to be contrary to international human rights standards for persons to reside in a country for more than 10 years without any permanent rights, and recognising that it is simply not feasible to grant permanent rights to everyone it streamlined those who would be entitled to apply and required all others to break their stay.

    Abolishing rollover is actually less problematic for Bermuda which has a relatively small expat population – about 15,000 out of a total population of about 65,000.

    I see no reason why a 10 year rollover should deter foreign workers, investments or businesses since each person will have the opportunity to apply for permanent residence, and since the rules will be known in advance they simply have to organise their affairs in such a way as to maximise their chances of success. Indeed, wealthy investors can gain permanent residence much quicker. I don’t see how anyone can regard that as unfair or unreasonable.

    The truth is that Rollover is a convenient scapegoat for every ill in Cayman, but it is far down the list of actual reasons for businesses relocating outside of Cayman. Top of that list is the cost of doing business in Cayman which has increased substantially over the course of the past several years.

    There is a saying ‘never waste a good crisis’ and the current economic downturn in Cayman provides an opportunity for some to exploit and gain all sorts of concessions that do not benefit the country in the long run and would never be dreamed of otherwise due to panic and desperation rather than any well-considered policy. It is the tunnel-visioned policies of growth at any cost that have led directly to our social decline today.

    We are not all expats. The last time I checked every country recognises treats its citizens differently from its non-citizens. Expats are not being asked to ‘endure’ anything. They come generally because they will improve upon their situation in their home countries.

    We will have to see whether greed and fear will win out in the end.

  8. The huge amount of Caymanians unemployed is to do with Mr. Bush poor decisions. He started with granting large amount of status years ago. Which lead to foreigners opening small businesses just so they can hire their own countrymen. take the construction industry for instance. There are so many small contractors now that are foreign owned that a caymanian can not get work in construction. Someone has realized this cause there is a policy enforced at the new hospital project that ask for 90 percent of workers be caymanian. It has also made it difficult to obtain a secure position or career in construction because the small company outbids the bigger companies and small companies lay their workers off with little to no notice, and hire expats that work for little money, money that caymanians and those that have cayman status cant work for. A jamaican fresh from jamaica can can work for less money than a jamaican that lives here, have status and created a family here. we need more regulations put on these small businesses. What since it makes we give epats status and still turn around and grant more and more permit, while we have so many caymanians unemployed. I agree with killing the rollover but not to just leave it as it is. We need to stop granting so many permits and a freeze on status grants.. i understand government make money from granting permits but they need to find other ways. We are selling our people out, creating a host of social problems in Cayman. I say we get rid of the fees for permit grants and implement a expat tax. now we have corruption in immigration where an employee allegedly been selling status for years. so cayman has a host of problems but getting rid of rollover doesn’t REALLY help much. looks to me that the Big Mac is up to his old tricks. Like he did when granted the status to thousands of expats…it was to get votes. votes he couldn’t get cause they werent allowed to vote…hence why ppm got in at the time. so heres Mac trying to get the vote again. Getting rid of rollover helps who? you want to help me Mac? freeze work permit and status grants. I havent had a secure job in almost 6 years….how can YOU help me?

  9. Protectionist policies are the undoing of the Cayman economy, the only reason for investment in the new era is the potential for gain unbiased in a fair and open market.

    Many Caymanians have prospered and taken advantage of continued growth by expat and local corpoarations drawn to a free and unlimited growing economy.

    Until that is ill-disposed anti investment policies intervened and interfered with the proliferation of good quality investment, consequent employment and enrichment previously experienced by all.

    If policies are not implemented to grow the economy all the momentum will be lost and the law of entropy will be victorious and an abysmal expense.

  10. Let me ask this question, what is worse; a company that hires expats and Caymanians; or no company at all?
    If companies keep getting blocked from hiring the qualified and experienced employees they want / need to hire then eventually the company will move on.
    I am not trying to diminish local competency I am only saying that you need to be qualified AND experienced in a job for a company to want to hire you over another worker.
    Being Caymanian shouldn’t trump qualifications and/or experience.
    The problem I’ve seen is many locals (Not all of course) feel as soon as they leave school they should be able to walk into a high level job, but it doesn’t work like that anywhere in the world. People have to start lower and work hard and show their competency to progress in the company.
    If the current and future generations had an attitude more like that there would be far less need for expats.

  11. Hi folks. I’m a first timer. To Only_Me…you have made a good point, a point that any logical person would agree with. But i don’t believe Caymanians come out of school looking for high paying jobs(I don’t know what you call high paying jobs). How are companies being blocked from hiring qualified workers? Work permits get granted everyday…unless you mean the cost for the permit. Please clarify. Sounds like there may be more white collars here than blue collars or expats than locals. Why are we discussing anything Mr. Bush says? Job creation is on the rise, even for Caymanians (unless you have a police record, but thats another story). I only see this a desperate attempt on Mr. Bush to accumulate votes. He is afraid. Afraid that he doesn’t have the backing of his own people. So election time is come near and how can he win the vote of the paper caymanian help the expatriates. If he was genuine about this matter why bring it up now? Why not last year when trying to figure out the budget? Now all the sudden now we have no time to waste and failure to address this issue will continue to affect our livelihood in an increasing negative manner

  12. Our company have already given us notice about business closure! in cayman.good thing we will be given chance to work in other country.but thinking how will be Expats life there and how can I survive without family. Bad thing should I stay back and look for another job in this hard economy.I don’t blame my firm.its business after all.what to do next.what our fellow caymanian will do. this insecurity for all of us will lead to hatred among every gods child.hopefully my company stays back so I can be with my family after work here in cayman. Roll the hatred rollover policy.let’s live my job and cayman downfall…please

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