FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7: The OBA’s proposal to suspend term limits for work permits would be “disastrous” for Bermudian workers, the ruling PLP said today.

A PLP spokesman said: “If implemented, employers at all skill levels would no longer be incentivized to hire Bermudians.

“So many of us have seen our resumes passed over not because of skill, but because the bosses wanted their overseas man in the job.

“The OBA-UBP policy would mean more unemployed Bermudians and would cause many Bermudians to give up even trying to look for work.”

The spokesman accused the OBA of lifting its plans to reboot the economy from the UBP’s 2011 Reply to the Budget and accused party chiefs of using “fairytale” statistics.

He was speaking after OBA leader Craig Cannonier, Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards and policy drafter Miguel Daponte unveiled its plans to pull Bermuda out of recession.

Mr Richards said that the Cayman Islands had recently suspended its term limit policy while legislators worked on revising the approach to overseas workers — and called on Bermuda to follow suit.

But the PLP spokesman quoted Cayman Islands Independent Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller, who said that Cayman immigration law had been amended several times to help business — but that it had not had that effect.

Mr Miller added that employers in Cayman sometimes went to “significant lengths” to avoid putting Caymanians in key roles and that qualified and experienced people were passed over in favour of immigrant staff.

The PLP spokesman said: “The fact is that, unlike Cayman, the PLP has already struck a balance between ensuring that we do not create a new class of long-term residents or a glass ceiling for Bermudians, while welcoming international business.

“The party leader has already signaled that in the next session of Parliament, there will be legislation that underscores our party’s commitment to those who invest in Bermuda.”

The OBA said on Thursday it would exempt people earning less than $50,000 a year from their share of payroll tax, while businesses would get payroll tax exemptions for new starts.

Mr Richards added that payment of bills by Government would be speeded up to help local companies, while the planning process would be streamlined to encourage development.

Other proposals included freezing the size of the Civil Service and cutting down on the number of Ministers, as well as cutting back on the amount of foreign trips and reducing Ministerial salaries by 10 per cent.

Mr Richards added that an OBA Government would also reserve 20 per cent of Government discretionary spending to support small Bermudian businesses.

But the PLP spokesman said: “The policies outlined by the OBA are exactly the same policies we’ve been hearing for years from the UBP.

“When you read their policies, it’s clear — now more than ever — that the OBA is little more than a renamed UBP. They’re the same people, the same backers and they’re selling the same old tired policies to sell Bermuda out to foreign interests.

“The PLP Government welcomes, encourages and supports guest workers and investment in Bermuda, however we will never apologize for putting the needs of Bermudians first.”