Commercial immigration is not workable’
The OBA will not be introducing a commercial immigration plan to the island, according to Senator Michael Fahy.
In 2013, the Government said it was considering a scheme which would allow individuals to gain some residential and citizenship rights in Bermuda if they made a sizeable investment in the island.
However, Mr Fahy told the Senate that the administration had not been able to find a workable option.
“The market just isn’t something that we are capable of entering,” he said. “It’s just not possible.”
The issue arose during the Senate’s debate on the 2017-18 Budget after Independent Senator James Jardine asked if it was still something being considered.
“I know it is a very controversial subject, and I recognise that. However, it’s something that has been adopted by a number of countries overseas very successfully,” Mr Jardine said.
“I’m not suggesting we blindly charge ahead here, and allow everyone to come in here, but just like other ideas that have been put forward in both the Budget statement and the reply, I think it’s something that needs to be seriously looked at as a way to increase jobs in Bermuda; not just for Bermudians, but also for others coming into the island, because that is essential to creating a tax base upon which this government can continue to fund the various programmes it has.
“We can’t get away from this. Bermuda’s population is shrinking, it’s not growing. If we are going to have the tax base we need to be able to support the programmes we want, then we have to see growth in our population.”
Mr Fahy, who was serving as the Minister of Home Affairs when the Government first announced it was considering commercial immigration, said that consultation on the issue had taken place, but it was discovered that the market had become increasingly competitive, labelling it a “race to the bottom”.
“A lot of countries were basically saying if you make an investment of a couple hundred thousand dollars, we will give you a passport,” he said.
“In order to be palatable for Bermudians, we would have to set it at a number very high indeed. Millions of dollars. At that rate, there are expectations of a passport and we are unable to issue those as a dependant territory. The most we would be able to do is potentially give permanent residence.”
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