Alarm as the number of work permits issued falls
The number of work permits issued in 2009 was 24 percent lower than the number issued in 2007.The Royal Gazette reported the number of active work permit holders in 2010 was eight percent lower than in 2009. There are 10,127 people on one- to five-year work permits currently according to Economy Minister Kim Wilson.
This paper now has detailed data illustrating that 2009 saw the lowest number of one- to five-year work permits issued since 2003.
Last year the Government of Bermuda issued 8,501 of these work permits. This was down from 2008 when 9,883 were issued.
Government hit an all time high in 2007 when it granted 11,214 of these work permits.
Yesterday, Shadow Economy Minister Bob Richards said the numbers were alarming.
He warned that Government revenues could be down as a result and locals and business will feel the impact too.
“So much of our revenue is consumption based,” he said. “Our tax system is not based on income, it is based on consumption.
“The more people on this Island the more money is made.”
He said the drop in foreign workers, coupled with the low number of air arrivals who also spend money on the Island meant Government had less revenue than in pervious years.
Despite last year's increase in payroll tax, from 14 percent to 16 percent, Mr Richards said he believed Government could actually see a decrease in this revenue source due to the drop in expatriate workers.
Mr Richards added the reduction in the number of expatriate workers would also hit the pockets of businesses and people across the Island.
“We have a system in place where regular expatriates cannot buy property,” he said. “They rent from Bermudians, with the drop in expatriates there will be more vacant apartments. Bermudian landlords may find it hard to meet their mortgages without this rental income and this will impact the banks.”
Businesses such as restaurants and retail stores and those offering services such as bike repair and dry cleaning would also feel the pinch as less workers would mean less people buying goods and services, he said.
Association of Bermuda International Companies executive Richard Winchell said the newly released statistics are not good indicators for Bermuda's economy.
Mr Winchell said: “Bermuda has seen a drop in work permits across all sectors. Reductions in international business work permits cause concern as that industry is the engine that is driving our economy, but all employees across all sectors purchase goods and services, contribute to the health insurance and pension pools, and to a robust Bermuda economy.”