Monday, Oct 21, 2019
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Bahamians should not have to compete with foreigners in The Bahamas

Dear Editor,

Recently, several prominent persons have suggested that “undocumented” people be given the right to work for one year. Here are several thoughts about that idea.

The effects of Dorian have increased the numbers of three categories of unemployed persons in The Bahamas: citizens, holders of work permits or residents and illegals.

The challenge is that there is only a finite number of jobs available in New Providence and other Family Islands.

The goodwill of families, friends and neighbors will soon begin to wear thin.

Those displaced will want to have some privacy and a semblance of normalcy in their lives and those who may have saved some money will soon find their resources dwindling as they adjust to living in a new environment.

For these reasons, Bahamians should not have to compete with the other two categories of unemployed persons to provide for their families in these challenging times.

In other words, putting Bahamians back to work must be a priority for the government at this time. A failure to do so would naturally create high levels of unemployment, which would only lead to an increase in crime as people try to survive.

While discretion must be used in order to minimize hardship to all parties, it is important that all illegal persons in the country be repatriated to minimize job losses to Bahamians whose survival should be government’s first priority.

Work permit holders who are not married to Bahamians should be placed on a shortlist based on their expertise and asked to return home.

They should be given first preference to reapply for consideration at some point in the future. It should be obvious that the goodwill of donors will soon begin to wane and donations given thus far will only be diluted when shared with those impacted by the storm who remain in the country illegally.

Lastly, government revenues will fall dramatically in the short and medium-term, and I would like to suggest they try something novel in order to raise additional revenue.

In fact, this is something that has probably never been done before: the indiscriminate consistent enforcement of the law. It should be clear that many of the fines currently on the books are antiquated and should be updated for different categories of offenses.

Fines for overstaying visits, drug possession, speeding, tinted windows, drinking while driving, killing in the course of dangerous driving, etc. must be increased.

To this end, it might help if police have at least one breathalyzer to confirm drunk driving. It seems silly that a person can be ticketed for having an open alcoholic beverage, but levels of intoxication cannot be determined by the ticketing officer.

Outstanding monies owed to the government for student loans, property taxes, etc. should be collected, starting with current and former government officials. I suspect the funds that will flow into the public coffers will be in the multiplied millions.

The truth is, tax-weary Bahamians cannot take additional tax increases at this time. Make the lawbreakers pay their share!

– JB

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