FRIDAY, JANUARY 4: Laying out the red carpet for international business will not reduce job opportunities for Bermudians.

The assurance by Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy came as he set out plans to scrap term limits for two years and streamline the work permit process. Mr Fahy told the Bermuda Sun that the moves were designed to spark economic growth and create employment opportunities for Bermudians.

And he pledged to work with the unions to help ensure the economy moved in the right direction. He said: “The suspension of term limits was in our platform and it has been a priority for me in my first days in office.

“I will be going to Cabinet with my recommendations in a matter of weeks. It is important people understand term limits were brought in to deal with the issue of the legitimate expectation to residency in Bermuda after people had been here a certain number of years.

“Term limits are not about protecting Bermudian jobs because more often than not when the term limit expires the guest worker is simply replaced by another guest worker.

“There seems to be a thought in the community that if we suspend term limits that is in some way ‘anti-Bermudian jobs’.

“That is simply not true. It is spin-doctoring and fear-mongering.

Mr Fahy, whose Ministry includes Immigration, Labour and Training and Labour Relations, added: “The second priority is streamlining the work permit process and making it easier to understand.

“The intent is to increase economic activity and make it easier for job makers to work in Bermuda and create jobs for Bermudians.

“Bermuda is open for business and we need to put out the red carpet to attract business back to Bermuda and keep it here.

“But that is not at the expense of jobs for Bermudians. We can find a better and more balanced approach and we will, and have already, engaged with international business groups.

“And bringing international business back to Bermuda will help inject fresh life for Bermudians trying to rent their apartments and other sectors.”

Minister Fahy said that he would conduct a thorough review of the moratoriums currently in force and look to increase penalties for employers who tried to flout immigration laws.

He added: “I will be having an open dialogue with the unions.

“Perceptions need to be put aside and we need to talk about the whole working community coming together to help stimulate growth.”

Mr Fahy said the new Government would push ahead with existing plans to move the Labour and Training headquarters into the old Magistrates’ Building on Parliament Street in Hamilton. And it would also look at the ways of increasing maternity leave as well as introducing paternity and family leave under the Employment Act in due course.

He added: “The current facility where Labour and Training is based is woeful and we hope the new facility, which is currently being worked on, will bring some dignity to the job-seeking process.”