Fahy quizzed on work permits
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy was questioned about the delay in new work permit policies in the Senate yesterday.
The initiatives were expected to come into effect this week but Mr Fahy announced last week that there had been set back due to a “change of heart” by the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC).
He said the body had initially supported implementing a Bermuda Employment Visa (BEV), but that ABIC members began to have concerns.
Progressive Labour Party Senator Diallo Rabain said he was pleased to hear that Mr Fahy would rather wait than get the policies wrong, but he questioned why Government had failed to heed the Opposition's call for comprehensive immigration reform, particularly in regard to the “section 20B loophole”.
He said a piecemeal approach would cause more issues in the future, adding: “Let's get it right. Let's really look at it and get it right.”
Mr Rabain questioned Mr Fahy about the decision process, asking if the change in the BEV policy came after consultation with ABIC or just certain members of the organisation.
Mr Fahy said both, adding: “I had several meetings in the previous weeks with a number of individuals and organisations who shared their thoughts with me.
“I was grateful for those thoughts. I was somewhat disappointed that they came so late in the day, but that's okay.
“I subsequently had meetings with a number of board members in ABIC and then a final meeting with ABIC last week, before my announcement, where I became aware they were no longer supportive based on information they had received from their members.”
Asked why the One Bermuda Alliance had ignored concerns about BEV when voiced by the Opposition, Mr Fahy said: “It's interesting how things work. How credit can be taken for something that was not a concern of mine at that time.”
He said the basis of the BEV came from several organisations, including ABIC, as a means of attracting new businesses to Bermuda, and that the proposal had evolved over the course of a year with an accreditation process being developed to ensure that Bermudians would receive training opportunities.
The new work term policy is expected to be modified and retabled in February.