ABIC supports changes to Job Makers Act
Big business has backed a proposed law change to make it easier for employers from overseas to stay in Bermuda and gain residency.
Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) chairman George Hutchings spoke out as the House of Assembly prepares to debate the amendments today.
Mr Hutchings said a massive cut in the cost of a permanent residence certificate (PRC) from $120,000 to $25,000 and axing a delay until 2015 for residency applications would make residency more attractive.
And he added that removing a ceiling of five work permit exemptions for crucial employees would appeal to larger companies with several business units with key people in charge.
But in return for the exemptions, companies must be able to demonstrate a commitment to employ and promote Bermudians.
Government also wants to reduce the minimum number of Bermudians employed in order for international firms to qualify for the incentive programme from 25 to ten.
Mr Hutchings said: “These changes will help secure the loyalty of businesses and senior executives and in turn help retain business and jobs for Bermudians while encouraging additional investment in Bermuda.”
He added: “The required wait until 2015 for Bermuda residency applications was seen as an unnecessary delay.
“Amendments contained in the Bill allow senior staff with ten years tenure to apply immediately.
“This change provides certainty to this important group, encouraging them to remain here and to invest in our economy.
“We expect the provision of residency to have an immediate and direct economic impact.”
Implementation of the important changes to facilitate exemption from work permits and PRC must be a national priority in order to retain and grow Bermudian jobs and support our economic recovery.
“International business and support services provides the majority of external revenue into Bermuda.
“More than 85 percent of our foreign exchange earnings come from this sector. Almost one in three people work in jobs that support this sector and no matter where we work on the island we benefit directly or indirectly from it.
“People working in restaurants, hotels, retail shops, real estate, building construction, home and grounds maintenance, taxis and transport and Government services all derive a significant portion of their annual personal income from expenditures made by international businesses and their employees.”
He added that job numbers in international business had been in decline since 2007, while there had also been a fall in the recruitment of new Bermudian and overseas employees.
Mr Hutchings said: “It is likely that we have lost at least 5000 jobs in our overall economy since 2008 largely because of the reduction in the international sector.”
But he added: “These changes will ensure that job makers from small, medium and large companies are able to apply for work permit exemption and residency if they have a demonstrated track record of investing in our economy and our people.”
The new Amendments to the Incentives for Job Makers Act, tabled by Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy, proposes amendments to 2011 legislation passed by the former PLP Government which was aimed at shoring up the international business sector.