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Businesses react well to rollover plans

James O’Neill

Support for Premier McKeeva Bush’s proposed suspension and review of Cayman’s “rollover” policy is gathering no moss among the business community, who are looking forward to a stronger economy and greater employment opportunities.

Chairman Richard Coles of Cayman Finance, which represents the local financial-services industry and will participate in Mr Bush’s six-month policy review, said the move was long overdue.

“It will enable the government to review the impact of the policy,” he said. “It makes good economic sense to allow persons who may be imminently facing rollover to avoid being negatively impacted in the meantime.”

Anthony Travers

The premier announced the suspension in a 14 September Legislative Assembly session, saying that the seven-year “term limit” for thousands of work-permit holders — who arrived in the wake of 2004’s Hurricane Ivan – would expire in the next 12 months, potentially damaging small businesses and the larger economy.

A review committee comprising the Chamber of Commerce, Cayman Finance, Mr Bush’s own previously appointed Immigration Review Team and as-yet-unnamed “others” will spend six months studying the rollover, recommending legislative changes to be effected in the next two years.

The proposals will go to Cabinet on Tuesday.

Former Cayman Finance Chairman Anthony Travers, longtime and outspoken defender of the industry, cautiously welcomed the review, which needed to address three issues.

Governor Duncan Taylor

“There must now be some recognition at the political level, of the substantial damage done both to the local economy and the financial services industry by the imposition of the rollover policy,” he said.

Mr Travers also called for better clarity and “new legislative procedures” to repair the damage done to global confidence in the financial-services industry.

“Thirdly,” he said, welcoming the recognition that action was required, but calling for a public-education effort, “it remains evident from the nature of public comment that there is widespread ignorance of the importance of this issue to the overall economy of the Cayman Islands, to job opportunities for Caymanians [and] to government and private- sector revenues.”

Richard Coles

Chamber of Commerce President James O”Neill welcomed the review and opportunity to sit on the committee: “The Chamber Council and membership has expressed concern about the term limit and work permit policies for some time. In fact, immigration reform is among the main action items in the Future of Cayman strategic report. Any sensible proposal that can help to stimulate the economy should be considered at this time.”

H.E. Governor Duncan Taylor, who chairs Cabinet, expected Mr Bush’s proposals to be approved at the Tuesday gathering.

“Immigration is a devolved area of responsibility,” Mr Taylor said. “It is up to the local government to decide what immigration policies it wishes to pursue. If the proposal comes to Cabinet and is supported by Ministers, then it will be approved.”





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