* File photo. Labour and Home Affairs Minister David Burch has called a Bermudians only meeting.
* File photo. Labour and Home Affairs Minister David Burch has called a Bermudians only meeting.
A Bermudians only forum has been called to help determine the future of Government's controversial term limits policy for expatriate workers.

The six-year rule has drawn widespread criticism from international business bosses who say it is damaging the industry.

Now Labour and Home Affairs Minister Lt. Col. David Burch has called a meeting to explain the policy to Bermudian workers and ask for their input.

Anyone who comes to the April 8 meeting at Berkeley Institute will be required to provide proof of Bermudian status at the door.

In an e-mail circulated among international business employees yesterday, Lt. Col. Burch explains: "I have heard from every alphabet group in this country who purport to represent you and your industry and they have indicated to me that Work Permit Term Limits signal the death knell of international business in Bermuda.

"They have always cited that this will negatively affect Bermudians in the industry and so I want to hear from you...

"This is not an opportunity to whine, but an opportunity to share relevant information about the industry and discuss viable solutions directly with me.

"This is a private meeting for Bermudians only - no media - so that there can be an honest sharing of ideas."

Lt. Col. Burch was not available last night to expand on the e-mail but some industry insiders feel the move is a sign that Government may be prepared to alter its stance on term limits - if it is what Bermudians want.

Michael Fahy, secretary of the BDA and a Bermudian working in international business, said he would be attending the meeting.

He said discussing the issue was a positive step. But he added that he could see no reason to exclude expats, many of whom hold key decision-making jobs in the industry.

"The so-called alphabet groups are comprised of people at the top end of international business. Employees might have a different perspective but I believe most Bermudians employed in IB believe it is the driver of our economy and we have to be careful about how it is perceived."

A Government spokeswoman told us last night: "The Minister is very keen to receive feedback from Bermudians who work in the International Business industry. The upcoming Town Hall Meeting will be an opportunity for the Minister and Bermudian employees in the industry to exchange dialogue and share ideas."