Permanent secretary of finance Anya Williams, having earlier reported that there is a financial shortfall from anticipated work permit fees, is now calling for fines and fees to be assessed on employers and permit holders who continue to work under expired permits.
This is causing attention to shift to the long delays in obtaining work permits. Employers report that renewals take as long as seven months to obtain, with the average turnaround taking five months.
No sooner is a work permit issued than the worker must begin to concern themselves with raising the funds and applying for the next permit. It is unclear what Williams expects the foreign workers to do while they wait for a new permit to be issued.
Work permit fees have been steadily raised since the direct rule government took over in August 2009. It was hoped this would increase revenue and encourage use of local belonger workers but it appears the plan has not worked. Williams has reported a shortfall in anticipated fees in the millions of dollars.
New politician and businesswoman Josephine Connolly, an at large candidate for the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), reflected many citizens’ view on this problem, saying that immigration is a “bureaucratic mess”. Connolly said that the process of obtaining a work permit needs to be streamlined, as it is currently bogged down with too many untrained and unmotivated civil servants.
“Only the PDM has the courage and will to take on the reforms needed in the immigration (and education) departments,” she said at a PDM rally on September 10.
Follow the Cayman Islands model. A temporary permit issued (6 months temporary for a fee)while the principle permit is being processed. Thus generating income twice and allowing permit holders to move and spend freely ie: vehicle purchase, licence, gasoline, etc...currently the money stops making it's way back into the community until the permit is obtained.