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Bermuda status not in PLP’s immigration plan

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour (Photograph supplied)

There is no comparison to be made between the Government’s immigration reform plans and the One Bermuda Alliance’s Pathways to Status, the Minister of Economy and Labour has insisted.

Jason Hayward was quizzed during a press conference yesterday about how the Government intends to increase the working population by more than 8,400 in five years.

The party has said it would revise eligibility for Permanent Resident’s Certificates and institute a raft of other measures aimed at boosting the workforce.

Pathways to Status, proposed while the OBA was in government, was meant to provide a route for residents to earn Bermuda status but was dropped after mass demonstrations in which protesters blocked legislators from attending Parliament.

Jarion Richardson, the OBA’s interim leader, said this week that the topic was less contentious after the Government signalled last September that the island urgently required a 25 per cent boost in the size of its workforce.

Mr Hayward said: “We, the Government, have no intention to progress any initiatives that lead to Bermudian status — that is a clear distinction.

“We have been providing greater levels of security in residency. However, we have not made a political decision to move forward with any kind of Bermudian status.”

He said that no consideration was being given to the granting of Bermudian status outside of the provisions that already exist.

He added: “What we have been doing is what was outlined in the Economic Development Strategy. We do have the Immigration Board that will be primarily focused on reviewing the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act and providing strategic recommendations.”

Mr Hayward revealed that consideration was being given to reducing the number of years that individuals must reside in Bermuda to gain PRC status.

“The 20-year provision falls outside of what is considered to be an effective range,” he said.

“Because we live in a global environment, employees have a decision about whether or not they want to work and be domiciled in Bermuda or other jurisdictions.

“One of the factors they consider is their future life in that jurisdiction and whether or not they can get some kind of permanent residency.

“If you look at Bermuda’s permanent resident requirements, our 20-year provision falls outside the provisions of other jurisdictions.”

Mr Hayward said that outside of the international business sector, it was hoped that many of the jobs required to increase the working population could be found in the hotel sector.

He said: “We have a number of hotel properties that are offline — Elbow Beach, Aerial Sands, Bermudiana Beach, Southampton Princess.

“If all of those properties are back online — they are also not just job creators but they are also economic hubs. You can see that in order to service those hotels, you would need more jobs in the economy, so we are relying on some of those projects to be completed for a fuelling of economic activity.”

Agriculture and fishing were other sectors that presented opportunities, he said.

“Agriculture represents less than 1 per cent of all economic activity — we have huge potential to expand the local production of food and as a result create jobs.”

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Published August 19, 2023 at 7:26 am (Updated August 19, 2023 at 7:11 am)

Bermuda status not in PLP’s immigration plan

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