Work permit hikes to ease public spending

Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration, Brent Symonette.

Minister of Financial Services, Trade & Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette, has suggested that a hike in the cost of various work permits will be a part of government’s remedy to curtail the millions of dollars it spends annually in deportation efforts.

“The cost of deportation and repatriation is a large cost,” said Symonette, during a news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Monday morning.

“One point six million has been spent on deportation for the year already. At some point someone has to pay for this.”

Symonette revealed that the price hike will take effect July 1.

During his mid-year budget communication in the Lower Chamber of Parliament, Symonette said the government would introduce a number of fee changes for work permits within the Department of Immigration.

“But there are only a couple of changes and they are mainly in the low end $1,000 bracket… those fees have not been changed since 2008,” he said.

Symonette also noted that the immigration department is in the process of creating a registry to better assist with the entire administrative procedure for the processing of work permits.

“The Department of Immigration has just rented a building where we will establish a registry,” he explained.

“In the last four weeks we have moved over 300,000 files – each representing a person who has applied for a work permit or otherwise in The Bahamas. That doesn’t include permanent residency, citizenship, short term stay, and it also doesn’t include the hundreds that are coming from the Grand Bahama Shipyard.”

The sweeping changes and upgrades currently underway within the Department of Immigration is a part of government’s effort to fully modernize and streamline various processes within the government agency.