What can we learn from term limits?

The following was printed in today’s Bermuda Sun opinion section.

Controversy aside, can
we learn from Immigration Minister Burch’s recent meeting with Bermudians in
International Business?  It is suggested that the term limit policy
arose to address fears of continued granting of long term residency rights to non-Bermudians.  3
years into the policy, the Minister has garnered feedback from many and
although controversial, aimed specifically to gain insight from Bermudians
closest to the issue.  Many raised questions of the policy, perceptions
created and whether it represents Bermudian best interests.  These
discussions proved a valuable review of the policy’s effectiveness and
hopefully will catalyze larger discussions within the community.

According to the
Minister, the sole purpose of the term limit policy is to reduce claims on
permanent residency rights of non-Bermudians.  According to the
“Community for a New Millennium” white paper of 2001, Bermudians feared that
continued granting of residency would impact Bermudian ability to own land,
find good jobs, attain affordable housing, while risk damaging our culture and
potentially incur negative social and economic costs. 

3 years in, meetings
like this are an opportunity to gain valuable feedback.  To the
Minister’s credit despite the cosmopolitan makeup of the crowd no Bermudian
stood to bear witness to difficulties seen in the granting of exemptions or
extensions and most believed the Ministry had been cordial in working with business
in its implementation.  However, questions were raised about
perceptions created by the policy and whether it adds value for Bermudians.  Minister
Burch fairly suggests his job is to implement policy, garner and provide
feedback and that the decision of continuation ultimately rests with

While the means for
garnering feedback may have been unsavory, is it valuable to gain insight from
Bermudians most exposed to the workings of the policy? Are Bermudian views
valued in establishing whether it addresses concerns initially raised by
Bermudians?  Further are opinions more likely to be heard and
consumed by the larger community if they come from Bermudians? 

spoke; more attended, applauded and agreed.  Unwelcome perceptions are
created among our guests and a misunderstanding of not only the value added by our
guests but also how we discourage them from contributing further are concerns.  Many
wondered how reducing permanent residents benefits Bermudians vs. encouraging
highly valued guests to contribute even more. 
Does maintaining a near endless state of limbo for our guests discourage
them from investing in Bermuda?  For every work permit job created, is
it recognized how many Bermudian jobs are created and how much money is spent
in Bermuda?  Many were left wondering if this policy adequately meets
the needs and concerns of Bermudians.

Concerns related to
Bermudian wellbeing surprisingly did not revolve around those discovered in the
2001 but instead other issues.  Companies
being good corporate citizens, whether in undertaking practices of tailor
making job adverts, attempts to disfavor adequately qualified Bermudians and creating
disparities between income and benefits were concerns of note.  The Minister
countered that these occurrences are a minority and most are good corporate
citizens.  Still, is it concerning that
the perception still exists?  This paralleled
concerns regarding whether Bermudians are doing enough to play our part in
adequately eliminating unnecessary barriers to entry such as inadequate
education.  This including whether Bermudians adequately recognize
that in the majority of cases hard work and commitment are recognized,
appreciated and rewarded.  Ultimately advancement of our industry
requires a greater partnership between Bermudians and our guests to ensure that
everyone wins.

Despite the controversy
the meeting was widely seen as valuable, especially for the opportunity to gain
insights from Bermudians closest to the policy. 
From reviews given it does not appear that the term limit policy is an
effective solution to the concerns raised by those in attendance nor those of
2001.  Thus whether reducing claims on long term residency is in the
best interests of Bermudians is left in question given the downsides that accompany
it.  These discussions provided not only a valuable review on the
policy’s effectiveness but also raised questions of whether much larger
discussions are needed.  Discussions not
only on the term limit policy but how Bermudians such as those in International
Business can have a greater role in shaping the policy, implementation and
development of our industry.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by . Bookmark the permalink.