Sylvan Richards, OBA Shadow Home Affairs Minister

♦ The following statement was released by One Bermuda Alliance MP Sylvan Richards, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, in response to remarks by Premier David Burt in the PLP’s 53rd Annual Delegates Conference Address

Government must accelerate the timelines of vetting and processing of work permit applications to help address some of Bermuda’s immigration challenges, according to Sylvan Richards, the Shadow Home Affairs Minister.

In his address to the PLP conference the Premier stated: “What we must do is move from a one size fits all model of immigration, to a model where good corporate citizens who hire, train and promote Bermudians, are rewarded with a more streamlined process for immigration; while those who do not are subject to additional scrutiny. We must give companies an incentive to Act Right.”

It does sound somewhat reasonable to provide benefits for companies that hire Bemrudians, however, the problem right now is that immigration is woefully slow in processing work permits and this is affecting all businesses that require work permits to function.

The Immigration Working Group has delivered its report but we have not seen anything from the Minister. Will we see legislation this session? It also seems odd that the Premier should apparently announce immigration policy before we have heard anything substantive from the Minister of Home Affairs.

During his remarks, the Premier also said: “While I am talking about immigration, let me clear up something. We keep hearing from some in our community that we need more immigration. If you drop 2,000 people on Front Street, where are they going to work? What Bermuda needs is more jobs, and that is what the PLP is focused on delivering, more jobs.”

To say, “if you drop 2,000 people on Front Street, where are they going to work?” is a equivalency. That is not what the OBA is suggesting needs to occur. What needs to occur is that our immigration policy needs to attract and entice persons who will be job creators, persons who will start companies here and who will also employ Bermudians in sufficient numbers to alleviate the situation we currently find ourselves in.

That’s what need to occur and that will lead to an increase in Bermuda’s resident working population. As I have stated before, this course of action is critical for the survival of our country.