Criminal pasts of work-permit holders revealed
Work-permit holders with “serious” criminal records unknown to the Department of Immigration have been found on the island, the home affairs minister said yesterday.
Walton Brown said the requirement for employers to submit police certificates was started last year because Bermudians “were, and are not, being considered for work because of prior convictions”.
Mr Brown said: “Since that time, while the police certificates proved that the majority of applicants are of good character and conduct, we have identified a number of instances where applicants have had convictions.
“The department would not have been aware of the existence of convictions unless those documents were submitted by employers.”
Mr Brown was speaking during the Budget debate in the House of Assembly.
Opposition MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, who was a former One Bermuda Alliance home affairs minister, called for the exact number of applicants turned away because of a criminal past.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “And what is the outcome? Is it instant denial? Is it a slap on the wrist?”
Mr Brown also revealed that revenue from work permits was expected to increase by $1,932,000 to a total of $14,564,000 in the next year.
He attributed the extra revenue to additional work-permit applications because of a predicted increase in economic activity in the upcoming year, as well as increases for work-permit fees which come into force at the start of April.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin pointed out that for full-time work permits, the increase was estimated at $2.5 million, which she said “would account for a significant number of issuances of work permits”.
She said: “I know that we are looking to bring additional business into the country and I know that we are looking at a change in the 60:40 rule to a 40:60, which may help to generate additional business, but $2.5 million, which is approximately 25 per cent of the budget and certainly a 35 per cent increase on last year, seems to be a significant difference.”
She asked Mr Brown to explain the difference after the pledge to ensure more opportunities for Bermudians.
Opposition MP Trevor Moniz also queried whether the projected rise in work permits was realistic.
The revised number of permits for the current year reached 9,212, he said — but the projection for next year was for “1,000 more work permits”, he said.
Mr Moniz said it seemed to “fly in the face” of the new labour government’s policies.
Mr Brown said the proposed increase “has to do with the confidence this government has in the growth of the economy”.
He added that more work permits were “not a give and take, or a zero sum” when it came to boosting jobs for Bermudians.
Mr Brown said: “That’s why this is called a projection. That’s our goal, and that’s what we intend to accomplish.”
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