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'Permit Move Risks Destroying Economy'

FORMER Immigration minister Branville McCartney was shocked at the government’s clamp down on work permits, which he said threatened to destroy the country’s hopes of an economic recovery.

photo

Fred Mitchell

He said the plan announced by current minister Fred Mitchell to eliminate work permits for certain job categories within a year is completely “unworkable.” He hoped, he said, for the country’s sake it was all just talk.

Telling of his own struggles to employ a local live-in housekeeper after four candidates failed to show up for interviews, Mr McCartney said Bahamians simply refuse to do certain categories of work.

“It is very concerning to say the least,” Mr McCartney said. “I was very stunned, shocked to hear that. I would strongly recommend that they reconsider this matter.

“I hope he doesn’t go through with it. It will cripple our economy. We don’t need that. Things are rough as it is. We don’t need any more handicaps.”

Responding to the mid-year Budget address given by Mr Mitchell on Monday, Mr McCartney said the remarks were a potential deterrent to further investment in the Bahamas by new and existing businesses.

He said the policies outlined would both increase the already-high costs of doing business and “stagnate” the still-tepid economic recovery.

The former minister said the Bahamas was “still very much a Third World country”, and regressive policies such as the type unveiled by Mr Mitchell will not help its aspirations to achieve developed country status.

He also criticised Mr Mitchell for publicly singling out particular companies, by name, on the work permit issue, warning that this left “a bad taste” in the private sector’s mouth.

“We need things that advance the country and move it forward. This will be a policy that will block progress in this country. From a business point of view, it turns persons away from thinking about coming to the Bahamas to work or invest. We have to look at the ramifications of that.”

He added: “No developing country operates in that way. Look at the US, look at Great Britain, they’re melting pots. We have to be very cognisant of that. Not that we don’t want Bahamians to be employed, but let’s look at the reality – qualifications, number one, and whether they are willing to do the work.”

Urging the Government to be “realistic” about its aim of eradicating work permits for jobs such as housekeepers/maids, gardeners and labourers within 12 months, Mr McCartney said his experience as both minister and business owner showed such a policy “just does not work”.

He added that employers and home owners were “hard pressed” to find Bahamians willing to do this work at the pay and terms prevailing in the market.

• See Tribune Business for the full stories.

Comments

KM 7 years, 7 months ago

I dont see nothing wrong with the minister wanting to clamp down on these work permits that are given. Firstly, the government gives out TOO MUCH work permits for a country who's unemployment rate is ridiculous. Maybe not all work permits should be taken away , but a substantial amount needs to be taken away. This is a door opener for those Bahamian indivuals whom are without jobs. The PLP campaign argument was Bahamians FIRST. I am glad to see our leaders trying to find a way to do this. If this is a way sure go right ahead. I trust that this move will be a good move and does not go the way Bran intend it to go.

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Stapedius 7 years, 7 months ago

Honestly Mr McCartney needs to get a life. I would agree that we as a country should be more inclusive with our immigration policy. But inclusiveness doesn't mean we shouldn't be selective. We allow in all sorts of people of questionable character and competence. Because people come from the US, Canada or GB doesn't make them pure and sanctified. Furthermore, its astonishing to see how little faith Bahamians have in their own. Having worked in the Caribbean and Europe I can confidently say that we really short change and do a disservice to our own people when we talk about the lack of Bahamian skill and ethics. I have seen some of the most sloppy work done by people in other parts of the Caribbean and in Europe. So lets not get ahead of ourselves on the issue of Bahamian skills or the lack thereof. I refuse to believe that many of the jobs that foreigners come here to do Bahamians can't do. Don't get me wrong, I am all for diversity. But these companies must show some latitude and flexibility and appoint Bahamians at their other international branches. This 'skills' thing must be a two-way street. Many Bahamians feel as though its a one way thing and we simply don't get a chance at opportunities offered in the multi-national s with branches in the Bahamas. The whole thing boils down to a proper immigration policy. What skills do we need in this country and who do we want to invite to share in this home we call paradise? Both governments have failed to shape a proper immigration plan for this country. Nothing on paper. Just a bunch of patch work policy with political interference. Mr. McCartney played right into this when he was minister so he should be the last to open his mouth.

Now to Mr. McCartney's point on domestic workers. It is true that many Bahamians don't want to do domestic work . But has he stopped to consider the economic, social and historical and social components of why Bahamians don't want to do this type of work? I gather he hasn't and is only thinking of his selfish needs of having a housekeeper. We have had generations of Bahamians as maids and keepers of house in our hotels and in the homes of the wealthy of our nation. Right, so we must give permits to satisfy the laziness and comforts of the few Bahamians who can afford live in maids and gardeners? The 'nouveau riche,' of this country really feel some sense of entitlement. In reality many of them don't have a pot to piss in and have bank payments well beyond retirement. The fact is too many of us live beyond our means and all of a sudden our children need someone to pick up after them. We were taught to make up our beds and keep a clean house in our youth. Where have our values really gone in this country? Make your own bed, wash your own dishes, cut your own little piece of grass Mr. McCartney. Teach your kids to do the same and we wouldn't have the need for maids and servants.

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JohnDoe 7 years, 7 months ago

Do you really believe as you state above that, we "give permits to satisfy the laziness and comforts of the few Bahamians who can afford live in maids and gardeners"? This sentiment is not only disingenuous, it is a gross hyperbolic simplification of the issue and further it is contradictory to your first paragraph where you appear to be arguing that Bahamians are not lazy and that we possess the necessary skills and work ethic to perform the jobs foreigners are being granted work permits to perform. Just what is it, are we lazy or not?

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wave 7 years, 7 months ago

Bahamians’ will not do the work that is described in this article, they feel it’s beneath them!

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CrystalR 5 years, 8 months ago

GET IT RIGHT! Bahamains will not do the work described in this article for the PAY some immigrants are willing to accept. Bahamians do the exact same work at hotels and other business places, where they can make enough money to pay their rent, mortgage, utilities and live without being a burden on Social Services.

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atwr 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree with Bran. Some will have to quit their jobs to take care of their children without help. No one wants Bahamian housekeepers!

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CrystalR 5 years, 8 months ago

I do and I have one so do many of my friends and colleagues.

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Collin 7 years, 7 months ago

I have not agreed with Bran for a while, but he is correct on this point.

The first writer you did not understand what was proposed by Mitchel and Bran's position based on your argument. Mitchel and the PLP did not propose any selectivity, but a complete elimination/ban.

For the second writer, that was really a long bunch of stuff. Grow up and stop hating on others success. Yes we need to instill proper values in our children, but picking up clothes and weeding the yard does not make you a greater human. If you can afford to pay for others to do it for you then do it.

Far too many Bahamians hate on others success.

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Stapedius 7 years, 7 months ago

Quite funny. Why you vex? Hahahaha. And when since does needing a maid or gardener constitute success? There are many successful Bahamians who do these things for themselves. Contrary to your silly belief, being grown means paying your bills and living within your means. A concept many Bahamians don't appear to grasp. So yah want a maid put can't pay the mortgage or BEC? Funny

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John 7 years, 7 months ago

when since does requiring a maid or gardner constitute laziness? Many succesful Bahamians work 12-18 hours a day to by successful..So if they can afford to pay someone else to wash their drawers and pull shepherd's needle out the lawn why not? Yall is hypocrites!

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SDRFC 7 years, 7 months ago

The decision is a good one. First, with the unemployment rate as high as it is, Bahamains need to look inward and promote some self reliance. Second, use your God-given ingenuity and evolve. Instead of being independent housekeepers and maids, form a domestic services company ala Frank Hanna and service residential homes/families. Instead of live-in maids to care for children, get together, rent a building/property and open up a neigborhood daycare service with before and after school services with van/bus pick-up and drop-off.

We are too tied to the "old ways" of doing things and the white and black elite are all too comfortable with that kind of thinking. Bran is NOT progressive in his reasoning at all. He wants to keep things/doing business the way it was when he was a little boy. These days are over. Step into the 21st Century Bahamas where innovation rules or you're dead.

No one is willing to think outside the box and provide progressive solutions to the economic challenges facing Bahamians. When life gave use limes, we made switcha, now we waiting for some d*mn foreigner to come tell us how to make it....smdh

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concernedcitizen 7 years, 7 months ago

Freds talk was emotive political nonsense for the undereducated asses ,the old " bad forienger ,bad whitey talk " The truth of the matter without FDI we have very little , the big investors will get all the perits they need ,Fred knows this ,you see how quick Rolle came out to calm the foriengers fears .And please don,t go on about farming ,since the time of the loyalist people have starved trying to farm these rocks , and fishin i,m a fisherman ,theres not enough fish to support all of us . although it may hurt our false pride if we want a good standard of living we got to serve drinks and make tourist bed ,,,and don,t go on about us owning the big hotels we tried that and had to sell them for pennies on the dollar ,,Frank Hanna got permits for all the hatians he needed ,,My dad had a hatian working for him that immigration was hassleing in the seventies ,he called Frank and lo and behold next thing georgie was on the airport cleaning crew for Frank

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LChristinaLA 7 years, 7 months ago

In my opinion it will be a great idea to deny permits for certain jobs. I know hundreds of people that would be willing to work as care takers, housekeepers gardeners etc. I also wish that they would do more follow ups after permits have been issued for certain jobs here in the Bahamas.
For example i know many companies, hotels and restaurants that request permits for foreigners to beome trainers, or managers and they are actually only waitresses, housekeepers or secretaries. They then hire Bahamians only part time in the busy season and have their comrades work full time. I've seen a foreign general manager work weekly as a Bonefish guide and even taxi guest to and from airports at $80 one way (which I believe is called hacking...and is illegal). I've even seen them allow their foreign friend to do nature and bird watching tours all at fees (with no permit what-so-ever). I believe that the system is flawed and laziness on the part of immigration and law enforcement contributes. I have a long list of foreign operated businesses that operate on illegal practices, while we Bahamians sit by and watch them milk the system for every dime they can get.

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spoitier 7 years, 7 months ago

You are partly right, however, in order for the system to work fully, people have to come forward with the type of information that you have.

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TalRussell 7 years, 7 months ago

My, my. Nothing like the topic of stopping work permits will even brings out the closeted likes of a wanna-be .... again red shirt?

Even if Comrade "Bran" surfaces like a flash to use one of his time-tested weapons of red-slanted choice words, once again attempting to portray Comrade Minister Fred as that "big bad" work permits PLP monster.

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by TalRussell

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VDSheep 7 years, 7 months ago

Mr. McCartney - I advise you to get 40 of your committed candidates for the next election in 2017 and have one work humbly in each constituency for the next years. In that way the people will know them and perhaps the DNA can be a party to be reckoned with. That is the best way to do the ground game! Getting out there to the people a month before an election will not do it. Good luck with that man- if you want to take a bite out of the PLP and FNM! It's all about hard work, do you and your people remember how to do that?!

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Puzzled 7 years, 7 months ago

Of course Bahamians do not want to do domestic work. They have taken to heart the message from the country's 'founder' Lynden Pindling that Bahamians no longer need to be in servitude. This accounts for the generally poor customer service that is received in the service industry in particular. The xenophobic comments that appear when ever the work permit issue is raised seem to ignore the need for ex-pats to train nationals in every country around the world, Nearly all the major countries in the world have accepted immigration to improve their knowledge. Good luck to the Bahamas in charge of Bahamians alone.

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John 7 years, 7 months ago

The problem we have with illegal immigration is far worse than the wrok permit issue. Go in any Chinese food store and all the butchers and managers are Chinese. Many can't even speak English! The same is with the restaurants. Now they are moving into other sectors that were somewhat reserved for Bahamians, clothing liquor and now even web shops. Then you have the big foreign companies that are bring in their managers and conultands and technical people on tourist visas and having the work from hotel rooms. They leave for a few weeks and then return , again on a tourist visa, earninh thousands of Bahamian dollars a month. Fix that!

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SP 7 years, 7 months ago

As a supporter of the DNA, I am overwhelmingly disappointed that Branville McCartney is on the wrong side of the fence yet again. Firstly with his stance that Bahamians should not be allowed in casinos and now again with his stated position on this work permit issue.

I am actually now very pleased that Branville and our DNA Party did not win the election as he has now repeatedly proven that he is not "pro-Bahamian" as the majority of us thought he was.

Our uneducated, dysfunctional brothers and sisters are not that way by choice. Rather, they are products of successive failed administrations that neglected to educate and mold them into productive citizens as governments in other countries have done, who's citizens now swarm the Bahamas taking jobs from those that have a birth right to have them. The solution to the problem cannot be to now kick them under the bus and give their country away to foreigners.

As an unbiased nationalist, I feel Branville is too far out of step with the majority of Bahamians that suffer daily due to 40 years of government neglect and almost total failure in education, cultural development and every aspect of governance of our country.

It is obviously time for our great party to start looking elsewhere for a leader that truly understands the plight of our fellow brothers and sisters that have been demoralized, underprivileged, downtrodden, cast aside and ignored for 40 long years through no fault of their own.

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CrystalR 5 years, 8 months ago

Well if he is the leader going into the next election OR if your party nominates the same ole disgruntled PLPs and FNMs, and candidates of questionable character I will certainly not be going green.

Good luck with that his ego is one of the biggest in the hemisphere.

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