By The Progressive Liberal Party
July 13th 2010
Bahamas Unemployment soars whilst DPM Symonette brags over surge in revenue from Work Permits Fees
During his contribution to the 2010/2011 Parliamentary Budget Debate, DPM Brent Symonette boasted of the increased level of revenue earned by the Government from Work Permits and other fees. Last week Jack Thompson, Director of Immigration, enthusiastically disclosed that the Immigration Department “has done very well, as it exceeded the projected revenue goal of $40 million, just as Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette predicted it would early last month”.
The Immigration department, during the fiscal period 2009-2010, exceeded its projected revenue intake and ended up $10 Million ahead of expectations. Noting this, Director Thompson said “it is one of the few government agencies that have done that. Collections were also outstanding in Freeport and the Family Islands, so the department is very pleased with the efforts and its strategies have paid off.”
It is note-worthy that Work Permits and other fees forecasted in the 2010-2011 are budgeted at $42,166,655, with the projected income from work permits fees showing the largest increase over 2009-2010. This clearly signals that the Government expects to issue more work permits than those issued in the previous year.
Crime and unemployment are the two major issues that are currently facing the Bahamian people. The FNM Government, in the face of these ‘high impact’ and interrelated problem areas, appears to be powerless to address either one. With the daily escalations in unemployment one can reasonably pause and ask ‘why the FNM government intends to increase the number of work permits for foreigners during the ensuing twelve months and in what areas?’
One can regularly see foreigners performing ‘every day’ permanent jobs that Bahamians are fully capable and able to perform. Work Permits are being approved and renewed daily for blue-collar positions of maids, gardeners, waiters, bus boys, carpenters, masons, construction workers and the list goes on and on. In addition, there is no transparent process for the awarding of permits for senior banking positions, as they are being routinely filled from within the region and international sources.
As a result of all the above, we are now witnessing the utilization of foreign labour to update BTC’s yellow page publications.
As we are forced to witness the decline of Freeport, Grand Bahama’s economy, which is now at its lowest ebb, and a mirror performance in the Family Islands, we are stunned to hear the government proclaim that it is very pleased with the collection of work permit fees. We are even more flabbergasted that the Government continues to approve work permits for basic and quality jobs that Bahamians can perform.
The number of Bahamians holding PhD’s, Master’s, Bachelors’, and Associates that are unable to find employment in the land of their birth, whilst their government routinely renews work permits, is growing. They no doubt feel that the Government of the day has turned its back on them, as it callously preoccupies itself with collecting and boasting about work permit fees.
Rome is burning and the present Minister with the responsibility for Immigration is busy approving work permits for the various companies of special interest.
This FNM Administration headed by Hubert Ingraham and Brent Symonette has let down Bahamians big time.
Upon its return to office, the Progressive Liberal Party pledges to implement the National Jobs Training Program canceled by the FNM. This is necessary as such a program will equip Bahamians with the necessary skill sets, knowledge, and proficiencies to satisfy the demands of a dynamic and expanding economy.