Premier Alden McLaughlin said he ‘craves the patience’ of the estimated 900 people whose PR applications are hanging in limbo.
Mr. McLaughlin briefly touched on the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ during Wednesday’s (19 Oct) Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon, saying his administration is working toward a sensible fix for the permanent residency situation. However, he kept mum on any potential solutions.
“This is a vexing issue, not just for those impacted, but for me and government. The matter is complex and we are working to address it,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
37 minutes into his keynote address, which focused mainly on his administration’s accomplishments to date in its current term, he turned to the country’s deepening PR quagmire. Those hopeful for a major announcement were left to wait another day.
“Until a resolution is found, all I can do is crave the patience of those awaiting their applications to be processed,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
In recent years, the cost of doing business has topped the Chamber’s list of concerns, but president Paul Pearson told Cayman 27 this year it has been surpassed by immigration issues.
“The PR situation is really hurting economic growth, particularly in that middle manager, higher manager level. People are afraid, they’re coming here, they are seeing that it’s taking a couple of years, up to three years to get a pr application to get passed through, so they don’t want to uproot their families,” said Mr. Pearson.
He said the angst over immigration is not exclusive to the PR backlog.
“Members have reported that their recruitment time has increased from 6-8 weeks up to 6 months for some positions,” said Mr. Pearson. “Recruitment costs have increased and are becoming a dis-incentive for businesses to create new jobs.”
The premier told Cayman 27 those delays are a function of a economy that’s working.
“Business has increased, work permits have gone from just over 18,000 in 2013 to almost 24,000 now, and so there’s that much more work for the departments and the boards to deal with,” explained Mr. McLaughlin.
When pressed on the PR issue and his administration’s refusal to release the so-called Ritch report, Mr. McLaughlin had nothing more to say.
“I’ve already explained extensively in my speech the reasons why we have a certain legal professional privilege, and I’m not going to go into anymore detail on that,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
No PR application has been approved since the Immigration law amendment in October 2013.