Government plans immigration levy

The government is seeking to amend the Immigration Act to empower the minister to impose a levy on work permit fees that may be used for the purpose of immigration enforcement, and national health and wellness promotion programs.

A bill tabled in Parliament on Wednesday also seeks to amend the act to “specifically provide that an economic permanent residence certificate may be granted without the right to engage in gainful occupation”.

The amended bill would permit the individual to have the right to engage in gainful occupation in his own business or without the right to engage in gainful occupation.

The government has also tabled the Public Finance Management (Immigration Levy) (Special Fund) Bill, 2023.

The bill would establish a fund to be known as the Immigration Levy Fund to meet costs associated with immigration enforcement, national health and wellness promotion programs supervised by the Ministry of Health, and education and training programs supervised by the Ministry of Education.

The fund shall also meet costs associated with capital investments made by the government.

The amended bill says the fund “shall not be used to settle any claim related to the personal emoluments of any public officer or any contract officer”.

The financial secretary shall be the fund administrator and shall be responsible for the accounting, management, monitoring and reporting of the fund.

The bill states, “The fund administrator shall exercise the care, diligence and skill in the administration of the fund that a person of ordinary prudence would exercise in dealing with the property of another.”

The fund would also have an advisory committee. Its members would be the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Immigration, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education and the director of immigration.

The fund administrator, with the assistance of an actuary, would be required to conduct an annual review for the operation of the fund.

The finance minister would be required to table in Parliament a copy of every annual report submitted by the fund administrator. 

The auditor general would also have the power to audit the fund.

It is not yet clear how much the new immigration levy would be.

When he delivered his budget communication in the House last week, Prime Minister Philip Davis said the government is not imposing any new taxes.

However, bills tabled by the government last week show its plans to implement certain levies, including a “tourism enhancement” levy, the immigration levy,  and a tax on sugary beverages.

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Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian.

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