Roban: ‘What other OBA promises are set to be broken?’
Opposition MP Walter Roban yesterday took aim at the Government for abruptly ending term limits after promising a mere suspension before the election. Mr Roban said OBA has 'moved more swiftly to turn their backs on campaign promises rather than provide assurances or solutions for the Bermudians seeking job opportunities'. However an OBA spokesman responded that the change in policy was made after a review, criticising the PLP for failing to change 'xenophobic' legislation themselves. The term limit policy, put in place in 2001, imposed a six-year limit on permits for guest workers with the intention of curbing those seeking long term residence. In the lead-up to December's general election, the OBA repeatedly stated that it intended to implement a two-year suspension of the programme while a review is carried out. However on Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy announced that the policy had been axed completely with immediate effect. Senator Fahy said the move was intended to spark a boost in the economy, and that efforts are being made to strengthen the work permit policy aimed at protecting Bermudian jobs. Mr Roban, the Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, declared that the OBA was showing blatant disregard to the electorate by repeatedly denying in the lead-up to the election that they intended to end term limits. He cited a 2011 editorial by Premier Craig Cannonier, in which Mr Cannonier said: 'The PLP deliberately distorted the OBA's position on term limits. 'They said we would 'end' term limits instead of what we actually said, which was to 'suspend' them for a period of two years pending a review that gives us a policy that works better for Bermuda.' Mr Roban also noted similar comments by Finance Minister Bob Richards, who said last June: 'The PLP say the OBA's policy is to end term limits. 'The OBA policy, as stated in our Budget Reply and other releases, is to suspend term limits for a period of two years pending a review for a policy that works better for Bermuda.' Mr Roban said: 'Given the statements above, the Progressive Labour Party is shocked at the blatant disregard that the One Bermuda Alliance has shown towards the electorate. 'Despite the strong denials by their leadership before the election, just six weeks into their term, the OBA government announced that they have abolished term limits with immediate effect. 'What happened to the promised suspension for two years? What happened to the promised review? 'If the OBA Government will move so quickly to break such an important election promise, we must all question what other promises are set to be broken?' Mr Roban called on the OBA to provide the public with details of an enhanced work permit framework promised by the Government, and list the measures that will be put in place to ensure Bermudians have equal opportunity in the workforce. Responding, OBA Deputy Chairman Michael Branco described the allegations as 'aimless politicking', noting that when Senator Fahy said a review had been carried out when he announced the policy change. The results of that review was that term limits had nothing to do with protecting jobs, and ending the policy would have no negative effects on the right of Bermudians to fill jobs. 'The Progressive Labour Party has known this since they put the term limit policy in place,' Mr Branco said. 'The only effect the policy has is to make non-Bermudians feel uncomfortable. 'We believe the reason they went ahead with putting the policy in place was to pander to the xenophobic views of those Bermudians who would like Bermuda to be foreigner-free. 'The One Bermuda Alliance has no patience with xenophobia. Bermuda needs non-Bermudians to operate successfully. 'They have built this community alongside Bermudians, and will continue to work here, welcomed and appreciated by those Bermudians who understand how this island functions. 'What is the point of having a policy in place, even a policy under suspension, which does nothing except make non-Bermudians feel unwelcome?' He described the elimination of term limits as representative of the red carpet approach, making it clear that Bermuda is open for business. He added: 'The One Bermuda Alliance would remind Mr Roban, on the subject of disregard for the electorate, that he and his colleagues in the former Government allowed suffering among our population on a scale never experienced before, because they failed to act on matters like term limit policy, which they knew well was resented mightily by the international business population, which shrunk because of it.'