“We will Create 2,000 Jobs” 

OBA 2012 campaign promise

Last week, the S&P downgraded the ratings for both HSBC & Bank of NT Butterfield citing our rising unemployment rate as one of their key concerns.

“We forecast that the unemployment rate could climb to 12% by the end of 2013 and 14% by the end of 2014 given recent trends.” — Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

S&P Contradicts MP Bob Richards’s statement “….the long contraction is ending. The nightmare is almost over.” — Royal Gazette, August 23, 2013  

He was backed up by Minister Michael Fahy: “The introduction of payroll tax relief for employers who hire new Bermudian employees has produced some encouraging results as a direct result of this policy.” — Royal Gazette Aug 15, 2013

Statistician Cordell Riley predicted approximately 2,400 unemployed by end of 2013. 

MP Bob Richards dismissed Mr Riley’s prediction. stating “There’s no analysis. It’s just looking at a chart and extrapolating a chart that’s going down. Statisticians don’t run Governments, economists do.”  Royal Gazette August 23rd, 2013 

It appears that S&P forecasts are similar to Mr Riley’s. Bob Richards needs to listen to the Bermudian experts; believe in us — we are capable. 

In July, there were over 2,000 Bermudians registered at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). Our unemployed come from many sectors but the recession has impacted the construction industry the hardest with 11% job loses in 2012 alone. Between 2008 & 2012, the industry lost 1,392 jobs representing over one third of the total jobs lost for that period. 

To add insult to injury, in 2012 nearly 25% of those employed in the construction industry are non-Bermudian. Repeat: 25% non-Bermudian in the construction industry.  

And of that 25%:

Over 50% of employed masons were non-Bermudians (169 jobs)

• Over 29% of employed carpenters were non-Bermudian (73 jobs)  

• Over 53% of employed tilers were non-Bermudian (19 jobs) 

• Over 13% of employed plumbers were non-Bermudian (19 jobs) 

— Employment Survey 2012  

Currently, there are 33 masons, 14 carpenters and nine plumbers registered as unemployed with the Department of Workforce Development. 

Industry estimates indicate that the actual unemployed Bermudians in these areas are higher as many unemployed opt not to register.

So what has the OBA done about this since they were elected? They issued 160 additional work permits for non-Bermudian masons, carpenters and plumbers.  

The OBA is now attempting to water down legislation that was put in place by the PLP which was intended to link non-Bermudian work permits with the direct employment of Bermudians.  

The OBA’s Incentives for Job Makers Act 2013 will see some companies made exempt from work permit requirements and allow some expat senior executives to be granted permanent residency. 

PLP provisions

When the PLP originally passed the Incentives for Job Makers Act 2012, it had in place a set criterion of the number of Bermudians that needed to be employed by a company.  

Under the new OBA’s Act, a company has to employ 10 Bermudians to be eligible for exemptions whereas under the PLP Act that number was 25. Previously, only five expats were eligible for work permit exemptions.  

Under the new Act, OBA plans to remove this restriction completely.  

Where are the promised 2,000 jobs? Are they earmarked for non-Bermudians?