Enterprise Bill will not secure jobs for Bahamians and will dangerously relax immigration laws….
Nassau, Bahamas – Philip Brave Davis began scolding government MPs in the Parliament this week during the debate of the new Enterprise Bill [ The New Work Permit Bill], which seeks to relax the laws on immigration and open the floodgates for expat labour.
Teamwork by the Opposition began with Chester Cooper who questioned why an investor with $250,000, and not over $1million, should be considered in the legislation. Picewell Forbes questioned why was the bill being tabled at this time when right now in his community foreigners, after being granted certain permissions and access to land, move quickly to block locals from enjoying certain privileges they’ve always enjoyed.
Glenys Hanna Martin scolded the government, demanding the leadership within the government to tell the Bahamian people exactly what the bill is because it is not creating anything better but will actually take away jobs from Bahamians.
The legislation seeks to liberalize the granting of work permits to an enterprise that wishes to establish itself in The Bahamas, and requires work permits for its management team and key personnel.
The bill allows for a foreign employee of an enterprise that has a specified commercial enterprise certificate to enter The Bahamas “freely”. However, the application for a work permit has to be made 30 days once the certificate is issued. The certificate will remain valid for one year and is subject to approval. But here’s the catch: failure of the immigration department to respond to an applicant’s immigration [Work Permit] application will result in the work permit being deemed approved for three years automatically.
The thought of that sent the leader of the opposition to his feet as he lectured the Parliament on how the Chamber is to uphold and protect and modernize the laws to protect Bahamian jobs and not relax them.
Opposition Leader Philip Davis began by reminding the House what the fundamental differences were between the PLP and FNM on such national issues.
Davis said, “On 2nd November 1997, Sir Lynden reflected that ‘the philosophy of the Progressive Liberal Party is Progress and Advancement in harmony with the protection of the rights, value and dignity of the Bahamian people.’”
Quoting Pindling, Davis added, “The process by which these are achieved is as important as the end because the means determine the quality of the end.” He summed up the bottom line by saying that “Dignity is more important than the dollar and people are as important as profit.”
“On the other hand, I look Sir Lynden’s summation that ‘The FNM’s philosophy is Progress and Advancement at the cost and expense of the identity, dignity, value, worth and prosperity of The Bahamian people, hence the sale of our birth right for a bowl of porridge.’”
He said: “This philosophy is based on the principle ‘the end justifies the means’ and renders the process more important than the results and the profit more Important than the people.”
Davis added, “Given the fact that Bahamians do not need work permits, I question which Bahamians will benefit from legislation that will ‘liberalise the granting of work permits’?
“Further to that is the fact that the Minister responsible for Financial Services is set to usurp the authority of the Minister responsible for Immigration. Today, both Ministers reside in the person of the Member for Anne’s Town. This is powerful! All of the dots are now connecting.”
Davis went on to lecture the Parliament on these matters and then pointed to the fact that the Minister for State for Legal Affairs came into the House not prepared, not understanding what is drafted in the bill and has failed to correctly argue on the points of the bill.
Davis asked why would the FNM jeopardise the livelihoods of professionals? “Have they taken into consideration the requirements in law for our architects, engineers, construction contractors, lawyers, doctors? Will they be crushed by the ‘Super Minister’?”
In the end Mr. Davis told the Parliament the opposition will not support the bill.
We report yinner decide!