Bermuda press makes hay quoting error-riddled Bloomberg article

| 19/06/2013

Cayman’s mid-Atlantic competitor has been making hay from a Bloomberg article about the as-yet-unknown fate of 2,000 Cayman residents working under term limit exemption permits (known as T-LEP's). Unfortunately, both Bloomberg and the Gazette seem to have grasped the wrong end of the stick on several points. Let’s look at them before the nonsense traverses the echo chamber again.

Here’s a point by point (Gazette quotes in bold italics):

“Cayman’s new Premier Alden McLaughlin has made it 'quite clear' to his immigration department that he wants to find a way to keep the expatriates while reducing a growing unemployment situation for Caymanians, according to Eric Bush, the nation’s chief immigration officer, who Bloomberg interviewed for the story.”

This would have been the most accurate statement in the entire article, had it not wrongly identified Eric Bush at the “chief immigration officer”.  Mr Bush is the Chief Officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs (previously the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs). Linda Evans is the Chief Immigration Officer.

“Mr McLaughlin’s ruling party has also said they will now require foreigners to work on the island for 10 years before they can apply for citizenship.”

They have? When?

“Currently there is a seven-year requirement.”

No there isn’t.

“Bloomberg also reported that the government plans to scrap a provision that enables companies to pick 'key' workers who could indefinitely extend their stay for two-year increments.”

This makes it sound like an adverse development for foreign workers. Yes, they will likely scrap the “key employee” provision allowing workers so designated to remain a further two years, but that wouldn’t mean everyone gets sent home early, it would mean EVERYONE would get to stay an extra two years.

And key workers could not “indefinitely extend their stay in two year increments” or any other increment; they could indefinitely extend their stay by applying for permanent residence.

“… a two-year permit for a foreign auditor can cost $16,500 …”

Wrong, it’s worse than that.  A ONE year permit costs US$16,646.

“… while large firms may pay more than $21,000 for a visa for financial controllers.”

Also worse than that, small firms pay this too!

“In Cayman with unemployment among local citizens exceeding ten percent, the offshore financial centre is reining in the number of staff that funds, accounting firms, construction companies and hotels hire from abroad.”

No they aren’t. There has been no official announcement to that effect and no implication to that effect in the statements of officials quoted in the article.

" 'Limits on expatriates, who make up half the island’s 39,000 workforce, will ensure more jobs for Caymanians,’ reported Bloomberg, quoting Mr Bush.”

Actually, if you read the original Bloomberg piece, this was not a direct quote from Mr Bush. It was clearly a paraphrasing, indicated by the last of quotation marks. Are there limits on the hiring of expats? Yes, naturally, in instances where suitably qualified Caymanians apply. But the article, with some creative attribution on the part of the Gazette, makes it sound like some hard limit has been put on the number of expats.

“While the Cayman Islands tightens conditions for expatriates, Bermuda has loosened them, ending a limit on how long foreigners can work there as it seeks to lure funds and reinsurance companies.”

This is absolute bunk. There is no evidence cited (and none that I’m aware of, and I watch these things closely!) of tightening in Cayman Islands immigration. In fact, the T-LEP amounted to clemency for those threatened with rollover, so the policy has for all intents and purposes been shelved. The only loosening in Bermuda has been the abolition of the same rollover policy (some 18 months after Cayman). The only reason the new Bermuda government was able to act swiftly is that Bermuda’s policy is just that – a policy, whereas in Cayman the policy is enshrined in law.

And in any case, Cayman’s starting point was considerably more generous to expatriates, allowing them to apply for permanent residence after nine years, citizenship after ten and full Caymanian status after fifteen. Counterparts in Bermuda enjoyed no such progressive residency rights.

Most egregious of all, both the Royal Gazette and Bloomberg failed to point out that nobody in the financial industry expects for one minute that the government will fail to act to remedy the situation before the first cohort would be affected in October.

Bloomberg +Gazette = Fail.

Report: Cayman Islands could eject 2,000 work permit holders (Royal Gazette, 18 June 2013)

Paradise Lost Facing Expats in Cayman Work Visa Crackdown (Bloomberg 13 June 2013)

This commentary was first published on the CML Blog.

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Comments (35)

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  1. 4 Cayman says:

    Why can’t these people just stay on the island indefinitely without applying for status or PR? Some people just want to work and really do not wish to vote. They get a pension, medical etc…as with any Caymanian. If they wish to obtain status and PR then let them apply and pay for it! Just my two cents on this complicated matter that can be easily resolved.

    • Anonymous says:

      In short, because that is illegal under the international law by which we are bound.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because we have to educate, medicate and house their children for free if they cannot afford to do so, or choose not to.

      Because we will have to give them and their children the same rights as us even if they are not positive additions to our community, no matter what our local laws say..

      Because no matter what the parents  say, it will not bind their children, who will know no other home and will be entitled to have their parents remain here with them.

      Because our population is already growing much, much too fast (40K to almost 60K in the last 10 years even with rollover).

      Because Caymanians are becomming increasingly marginalised and outnumbered in their own community.

      Because we want to treat people fairly.

      Because we apply human rights laws here.

      That is why.

       

       

       

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course it can be easily resolved. The resolution is called rollover.

  2. Anonymous says:

    steve mac for premier!

  3. Way away says:

    What is there to discuss about enforcing the 7 year rollover policy? The 2000 people who are TLEP have now had 9 years continuous residence. If they do not leave in September they will be completing 10 years of residency and will be entitled to PR and a on a direct road to full Caymanian status in 5 years.
    So what you say?
    Well where will the Government replace the income from 2000 work permits which will never be held by an expat ever again? Can those 2000 new to become Caymanians spell income tax for everyone?

    • Anonymous says:

      Wrong. The TLEP permit holders time does not count towards residency by law. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong,not if they get to 10 years. Subject to some carefully considered and applied exemptions in specific cases, they have to leave. Anything else would be a disaster for Cayman, let alone give rise to a very real prospect of direct taxation as indicated by another poster. 

        • Anonymous says:

          If those giving a thumbs down really truly believe that the human rights principles by which we are bound are going to allow us to feign that persons have lived here for more than 10 years but agreed to really only treat it as 7, then you (and Cayman) is in for a horrific shock. You cannot force people to contact out of human rights and in any event, you cannot bind their children (they will reproduce you know). Relying on what Bermuda (or Dubai or Singapore)  does  is irrelevant.

          They have enbtirely different legal systems and notably do not allow persons to become citizens based on residence. We do. We cannot have it both ways.

          • Anonymous says:

            Cna you identify which particular human right binding on us gives them a right to have permanent residence just because they have lived here for 10 years? 

             

            • Anonymous says:

              European Convention on Nationality as Read with European Convention on Human Rights (and in particular Article 8). Also various EU Council Directives (23 November 2003), and the British Nationality Act 1981 – all undermine the ability to keep persons for extended periods without granting them security of tenure (or them developing security of tenure) .

              This is also set against our "Christian Principals". do you want to invite people to settle here andthen just kick them out after 16 years because they are no longer contributing members of society?

              Do you noy prefer  a clear, transparent, and legal path?

              • Anonymous says:

                anon 0747 thanks for the classes in quoting documents.

                But tell me the people of this country then are not allowed to protect the future of our own citizens?

                This is a small country with limited jobs and more and more people are settling here. Unfortunately I am still waiting on the positive impact of this increase in population that Mac spoke of. True expats come here and set up companies but a lot of them use those companies to get more of their people here.

                As for your lame shot at our Christian Principles you are quoting this from a country where it disspaered a long time ago. The europeans and Americans are the last people that should be attacking a country on this issue.

                • Anonymass says:

                  The point is that we can 'protect the future of our own citizens' by kicking non-citizens out after they've lived here for only a short time. Say seven years. But, if we let them live here 'too long', say 10 years, then conscience (if you don't have any Christian principles to guide you) and convention will force us to offer them citizenship. And thence their progeny, dependents, et al. Which brings us back to the 'can't have it both ways' idea. We can either keep guest workers on a time-limit (roll over) and not run the risk of more mass statusgrants or we let them stay and stay and the choice is taken out of our hands. Actually, we make the choice when we let them extend their stay.

                • Anonymous says:

                  I am a Caymanian and a very proud one.  My point was that our Christian Principles/Moral Compass or whetever it might be called, do not permit me to believe it is OK just to throw a long term resident (say 15 years) out withoutan extremely good reason. One way to deal with that dilemma is no not let anyone become a long term resident unless we (the Caymanian People) consciusly decide that we are happy for them to stay forever, and for their children to compete equally with our own. I believe that term limits are the best way to achieve that.

                  That was not a lame shot at our Christian principles. I hold them dear.

                  I think we are at risk of over-population, and never believed Mac. I personally think some of his actions may have permanently damaged our sustainability. I am a firm believer that we should only allow people to come and stay here if it benefits us at least as much as it benifits them.

                  As for your other comments, we are a territory, not  country, and are therefore subject to others' laws. However, before you start blaming the UK or the Europeans as to the fact we are bound by those principles, recognise that we are only bound by them because WE (the Caymanian People) asked to be.    

                  Walk Good.

                • anonymous says:

                  When one enters into a fixed term contract with an employer, there is no reason to assume that it comes along with a new nationality. It is a WORK permit, and should not be considered a path to citizenship.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    I agree, but that is not what our laws say.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    One of our major problems in this area is how long these people have been working here.

                    I have heard expats just got on the island and start to sing about their significant contributions to this country. On the other hand we have had expats that have worked here in excess of 20 years and we dont recognise any sort of contribution to this country.

                    Work permits if they are allowed to extend for such lenghts of time should lead to citizenship.

                • Anonymous says:

                  So the "Christian Nation" stuff is all talk but no action or responsibility?  Would accord with my experiences.  But your knee-jerk fear-based ignorance of how economies grow is more of threat to future Caymanian employment than protecting the basic rights of a few established residents.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    Anon 0052 its not that it is gone but in the ways of the world today christian values are under attack from everyone. And when someone quote it as it is here it is for their own self rightous purposes.

                    Your definition of being a christian nation is that we should help everyone that comes to our shores but ignore the problems we have here. Has nothing to do with christianity it has to do with you using it to your advantage.

              • Anonymous says:

                Do you understand the UK is not a signatory to the ECN and that it therefore does not apply to us?

                • Anonymous says:

                  You do understand that a court applying human rights principles will not give a damn.

                • Anonymous says:

                  I agree on the first part. You are dreaming if you think the second flows as a consequence. We can now petition Europe directly. What England/the UK thinks or does on the subject is now potentially an irrelvance.

                  In any event, I am not willing to roll the dice if the destruction of my home is a possible consequence. Why are you? No doubt you have somewhere else to go to. I do not have that luxury – so I am going to put Cayman first, if you do not mind.

              • Anonymous says:

                People come here on the express basis that they should have no expectation of permanent rights.  But you're right they should not be able to stay for as long as 16 years if they are not going to become permanent members of our society. That is why Rollover should remain in place and why we should deal with the TLEPs ASAP.    

      • Anonymous says:

        Not according to them. Just wait for the challenge if you let them hang around – then you will be screwed!

    • Anonymous says:

      When those 2,000 do get a kind of permanency here, you don't count that they would spend more of their money here and save it in banks here, rather than holding on to it to take back home when they leave or sending it to the bank in their home country.  Premier McLaughlin has understood this point and noted that the expats are not spending here due to roll over and hence wants to provide them a permanency.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are out of your mind if you think that giving permanency to 2,000 largely unskilled and low paid workers  who can be replaced in an instant with an advert in the Gleaner is going to have positive economic consequences – espescially when their families appear at the airport uttering "right to family life!".

        Do the maths and stop trying to destoy any hope for a sustainable future for these Islands!

         

  4. Chris says:

    Lets hope this government does not simply kick  the can down the road by extending the stay of those who have reached their term limit.

    These firms and people were given 7 years to plan their business and their lives. If the time has arrived for their departure then there is no reason why they shouldnt be ready.

    Alas, this is not the problem of private business only. Govt and the Caymanian people also had 7 years notice and train and upskill the people. Many have done so and are unemployed waiting on some of these skilled expats to leave so that they can free up positions in the workforce. Then there are other Caymanians who have squandered the past 7 years, and will most likely squander to next 2 years so an extension will not help them upskill either. If they didnt prepare for this day in 7 years then it is highly unlikely they will do so in 2 more years.

    As we were made aware, legal experts concur that once the 10 year mark is reached then there may be human rights implications, so kicking this can down the road to permit two year extensions will only serve to create a world of legal trouble for the govt.

    CIG, do the right thing, in the face of rising unemployment in an increasingly skilled Caymanian workforce, please DO NOT delay the departure of those who were well aware this day was coming.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Steve

    Agree on almost all except the point about TLEP only expiring for 82 persons in October. It does not. Every single TLEP (about 1500) expires on 28 October. That is the date 2 years after the "appointed date" and described in the Law as the "cut-off date". I very much hope that employers or employees do not believe that they last past then. 

    I also do not know why you would suggest the financial services industry expects anything after 28 October.

    First, properly advised, the Financial Services industry and everyone else always understood this to be  a temporary extension.

    Second, relatively few TLEP holders are in the Financial Services Industry.

    Third, most TLEP holders are approaching 9 years on Island – let them stay longer (without letting them or requiring them to apply for PR) and we will be in a Human Rights nightmare.

    Fourth, without a change in the Law they cannot apply for PR as it was a specific condition in the legislation that they and their employers accepted that the time on a TLEP would not count towards qualifying for PR. They are therefore deemed stuck at 7 years.

    Fifth, pretty much every single person in the Financial Services Industry with any seniority to who was the subject of a proper Key Employee Application and whose employer was behaving, got it.

    Sixth, just pretend everyone on a TLEP was allowed to apply for PR. Just how many do you think would qualify? What do you want to do with the vast majority who do not.  You know they will face a term limit at that stage anyway. How does "kicking the can" help (exactly)?

    Seventh, everyone on a TLEP knew they would only be permitted to remain for 7 years unless they were a Key Employee. They begged for extra time and got it (up to an extra 2 years). Businesses promised to use the time to find replacements. TLEP holders promised not to displace Caymanians from employment and to train local persons where possible. Face it, (generally) neither happened. Agaist that background it would be very surprising for affected persons to be given even more time, espescially with the 10 year line in the sand looming.  

    Expatriate workers that are needed continue to be welcomed. Expatriate workers who settle here and qualify continue to be welcomed as Permanent Residents and become Caymanian (86% of the many hundreds of primary applicants last year and all of their spouses and children).  

    Bermuda is desperate and is being forced to make things up about us. The truth will prevail. For example, we have no term limits on any management level personnel in reinsurance or funds admin. Many work permits cost next to nothing (including for support staff in the reinsurance and fund admin industries). We allow expatriates to have as many cars as they want,  enjoy a  tropical climate all-round, have no taxes, allow people to live where the want and own what they want, and embrace all as a potential future citizen, regardless of race or yacht club affiliation.

    The world is starting to see that, including with substantial help from you.

    • Anonymous says:

      did i read right. you think support staff work permits cost next to nothing in the reinsurance and fund sector. you must be dreaming!! they are so high that my company put off adding additional staff this year to try and make back some of the costs…..we are doing more with less

      • Anonymous says:

        Congratulations on your efficiencies but you are getting crap advice and arenow (perhaps unwittingly) simply part of the ignorant campaign seemingly hell bent on attempting to destroy Cayman from within.

        The work permit fee payable annually (and for five years following the worker's arrival in the Islands  in respect Executive Secretaries, Executive/Admin Assistants and Personal Assistants in  both the reinsurance and fund administration industries is precisely CI$0.00. This has been the case since the introduction of the Immigration (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations in October  2012.

        I'd say you are due some work permit refunds.

          

         

         

         

        • Terry says:

          I think the last poster may have been referring to the many administartive jobs in the FUND SECTOR, not necessarily fund administration – there is a difference, as fund administration is only a part of the entire sector. Also have you ever asked yourself why they implemented this rule? Perhaps because fund administrators have left this country in droves – and very sad to say they will not be coming back – the damge has been done. 

           

           

          • Anonymous says:

            …and if you want to know why fund administrators left, I can provide you some background.

            An administrator (in one of the better examples of an entitlement culture) did not want to employ Caymanians. In order to seek to ensure that they never had to train anyone, and could pick and choose as many expats as they wanted, they suddenly started requiring (in their adverts in the local press) that you had to be a fully qualified accountant in order to be considered for a funds admin position. Some capable Caymanians applied and were not even interviewed because they were not qualified accountants.  Immigration queried this and the business insisted that you could not be a fund administrator unless you were a qualified accountant.

            Immigration took them at their word. They refused to renew the work permits of the expat fund administrators (many) who were not qualified accountants.

            Now whose fault is that?

            Play by the rules and you will be very welcome.

             

             

          • Anonymous says:

            Faur enough. But the fees are still substantially less than capital gains, payroll, corporate taxes etc, let alone rents/quality of life comparators.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Goodjob, Steve. Premier McLaughlin, Immigration comes under your ministry. There should be an official response to the Bloomberg and Royal Gazette articles.