Opinion: is Bermuda valued in Bermuda?

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August 26, 2014

[Opinion column written by Eron Hill]

As a young person growing up in Bermuda, it is imperative to know that the government of the day is making decisions that will pave the way for a better and brighter future for Bermuda. However, the actions, or lack thereof, of the government of the day, makes one seriously question whether Bermudians, especially the next generation, are being taken seriously.

Time limits

The OBA pledged in its pre-election campaign that it would suspend terms of office for two years. On January 30, 2013, Minister Michael Fahy abolished the term limitation policy “with immediate effect”.

Under the Term Limits Policy, work permit holders who had worked for six years or more were not entitled to renew their work permits. The OBA’s decision to eliminate the term limit policy has opened the floodgates for non-Bermudians to stay in Bermuda with constant renewal of their work permits.

This has created and continues to create increased competition for Bermuda who are struggling to find work, against their non-Bermudan counterparts who have guaranteed jobs through a contract that can be constantly renewed.

While I am fully aware of the need for expatriate workers in Bermuda and the valuable contributions that some make to our society; I also know many qualified and knowledgeable Bermudians who do not have access to positions because they are occupied by guest workers.

Shouldn’t Bermuda have priority over Bermuda?

Do they care about us?

Job Creators Act

On September 28, 2013, the OBA approved the Incentives for Job Makers Act 2013 which lowered the fees for a certificate of permanent residence [PRC] from $ 120,000 to $ 25,000. This is a slash of almost $ 100,000. This begs the question; Does this government really assess the price to pay to have the possibility and the privilege of having a permanent position in this country? Or is this government prepared to sell Bermuda at a low price? The OBA’s actions to date seem to suggest the latter.

Do they care about us?

The amendment to the Companies Act 2014

On March 21, 2014, the OBA amended the Companies Act 1981. This allowed international and local businesses to purchase Bermudan properties and undeveloped land.

Prior to the Amendment, the ownership of non-Bermudians was restricted as they could not buy undeveloped land and could only own one property. The purchases they could make were limited to condominiums and properties with an established minimum annual rental value.

With these changes, businesses will now be able to purchase undeveloped land and will be able to own an unlimited number of restricted properties. As a result, there will be less open land available to Bermudians; and the disheartening reality that many Bermudan landlords will lose tenants because they will now be housed by their employers.

More worryingly, decisions related to restricted business activity and corporate land ownership will no longer be brought before the House of Assembly. Only the OBA cabinet now has exclusive and decisive control over decisions relating to the land ownership of companies.

This does not benefit my generation, which will now have to compete with legal persons to buy our first house.

Do they care about us?

Bermudian Status

On June 6, 2014, all OBA deputies in the House of Assembly voted against an amendment that would have closed the loophole identified by the Chief Justice in a May 2014 Supreme Court ruling that could see thousands of PRC obtain Bermuda status. This amendment proposed to ensure that the law was aligned with what had been government policy for 25 years.

On Wednesday July 23, 2014, without any transparent public discussion or consultation, Senator Michael Fahy announced that the OBA would drop the appeal, opening the door for thousands of PRC holders to seek Bermuda status.

Do they care about us?

Are Bermuda popular in Bermuda?

In my humble opinion, the actions taken by this government are slowly but surely moving Bermudians to non-Bermudians in our own island.

Many of my peers today are expressing serious concerns about our future prospects in Bermuda.

These are just a few of the actions of the OBA that make us wonder if they are really for Bermudians. As a youngster, I seriously wonder whether or not Bermuda is a priority in our own country.

“All I mean is they don’t really care about us”
-Michael Jackson, they don’t care about us

Eron Hill, a former member of the Bermuda Youth Parliament, is currently a legal understudy continuing his law school.

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