Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy

New measures to safeguard existing international business interests and attract new firms to the island will benefit Bermudians in the long run, according to the Home Affairs Minister.

The assertion by Michael Fahy comes after the Incentives for Job Makers Act 2013 came under heavy fire during a marathon session at the House of Assembly last week.

Mr Fahy hit back at claims that the new rules, which cut the fee for job makers to apply for a Permanent Residency Certificate and reduce from 25 to ten the minimum number of Bermudian staff required to be employed by a company for it to seek exemptions, were ‘anti-Bermudian’.

And he maintained that a recent increase in Bermuda Monetary Authority registrations as well as new business inquiries proved the economy was moving in the right direction.

Mr Fahy told the Bermuda Sun that some islanders needed ‘a change of mindset’ when it came to international business and change.

He said: “It’s easy to paint these plans as anti-Bermudian, but the reality is more complicated

“There is a mindset amongst some that anything that represents change is wrong and that investment when it comes from overseas is wrong.

“These proposals are not anti-Bermudian.

“We want to see the economy turned around and attract business.

“We must start to recognize that Bermuda is a small place in an ever-competing world and if people are not going to get value for money they are not going to come.

“If we can not find way to build hotels because they are too expensive developers will not come.

“The days of fast and easy money are gone.

“Bermudians have to look to what opportunity is available in Bermuda and abroad.

“We have to change the mindset and not blame Government for all our failings.”

The proposed legislative changes provide added incentives for ‘job makers’ to remain in Bermuda, while they make provision for huge fines for firms that abuse the work permit system.

The moves contained in the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2013 and Job Makers Act 2013 were passed in the early hours of Saturday morning.

And Mr Fahy believes Government has struck the right balance in the new amendments.

Referring to the new Incentives for Job Makers Act Mr Fahy said: “Based on significant feedback from business we felt the old Act was too restrictive so now in order to be eligible for the incentives a company has to employ just 10 Bermudians instead of 25 as was previously the case. 

“Time and time again I have seen over the last nine months we have a job maker — a CEO of a company — who are not satisfied they have any forward looking opportunity in terms of residency making a decision to leave us and re-locate.

“The knock on effect is that Bermudian jobs are going overseas and people are being made redundant

“International business people are friends of Bermuda.

“We have an opportunity here — whether we like it or not — that we are reliant on these people for our livelihood.

“It is not ideal to be so reliant on one sector but we are and we have to do what we can to make them feel welcome.”

Mr Fahy told the Bermuda Sun he remained positive about the return of business to Bermuda.

He: “I believe things are moving in the right direction.

Record

“We have record numbers of registrations to the Bermuda Monetary Authority that shows confidence is returning to Bermuda.

“The alphabet groups are more confident.

“It will take some time for these green shoots will bear fruit.

“Some people think the change will be immediate, but we have an election platform of five years. It’s a package of measures and we have to get the balance right.

“The confidence I get comes from meeting daily with companies that are coming to Bermuda and want to set up here.

“It may be just a small firm, but it is a trickle process and they have started to come and have heard what we are saying.”