MLA urges action over potential ex-pat exodus

| 17/08/2017 | 251 Comments
Cayman News Service

Alva Suckoo, Bodden Town MLA

(CNS): The deputy opposition leader and independent member for Newlands is urging government to act now in preparation for what many believe will be an exodus of ex-pat workers at the end of this year over changes to the pension law. Alva Suckoo said that out-of-work Caymanians need to be trained now to fill vacancies that will be created at the peak of the tourist season rather than grant a new batch of last-minute and temporary work permits because nothing was done to manage the potential problem.

The new law prohibits pension cashouts from 1 January, forcing ex-pats who leave the country to maintain their pension in the existing fund until retirement age or to transfer it to another scheme. Many overseas workers, who often already have pension investments in other countries when they come to work in Cayman, or who are simply not interested in thinking about a pension, have come to expect the cash windfall after they leave and are not prepared to miss out.

Although there are no actual statistics, anecdotal evidence points to the possible departure of a large number of ex-pat workers in many different fields before 31 December, the cut-off point to allow people to cash out their pensions. 

Faced with the very real possibility of anywhere from hundreds to even as many as 2,000 people leaving at the same time, according to some estimates, Suckoo has filed a private member’s motion in the Legislative Assembly, seconded by the opposition member for Savannah, Anthony Eden. The motion calls for all affected businesses to give the government a detailed list of the vacancies that will be created at their companies by the potential exodus. The opposition member is asking for all affected businesses to register the forthcoming vacancies now on the NWDA jobs database, giving time for government to partner with the employers and embark on a recruitment drive encouraging interested Caymanians to register and apply. This will then allow time to train the potential local candidates to fit the jobs that will become available in the period leading up to the departure dates of the current permit holders.

“The motion is seeking to address the concern that if there is an exodus of expatriate workers, that steps are taken to ensure that as many Caymanians as possible get the opportunity to fill those vacated jobs,” Suckoo told CNS. “My concern is that because this has dragged on the Government will feel pressured to grant work permits to assist businesses and that many unemployed Caymanians or even those who want to change occupations won’t get the opportunity to fill these vacancies.”

On the campaign trail, most candidates, including those on the government benches and the former education and employment minister and architect of the pension law, said that if there was an exodus they wanted to see Caymanians fill the vacancies. While the arguments continue between unemployed locals and bosses about the availability of experienced and willing Caymanians and issues of discrimination, there is no indication whether government is planning any proactive measure to address the problem of the pending exodus while also dealing with the stubborn levels of local unemployment.

“I hope that the government recognises the urgency of the situation and agrees to the recommendations of the motion,” Suckoo said.

PMM No. 5 – Expat Workers Pension Exodus – A. Suckoo – 10 Aug 2017

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Category: Local News, Politics

Comments (251)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Alva – stop shouting from the fringes. If caymanians want the work, they will be pro-active and seek it. Spending money training people who have no intention of supporting the economy of their own country is a waste of time and money. Without the expats doing the jobs, the place will collapse.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Alva, I commend you for bringing this motion, as I commend Mr. Eden for seconding it. Many will criticize you both for taking the initiative and backbone to table this however, you are absolutely wise in doing so and your heart is certainly in the right place!

    For far too long businesses have used the cliché excuse that there are not enough qualified Caymanians to fill positions. This is not always the case!

    NWDA and Immigration need to work closely in regards to identifying qualified Caymanians and following-up with those individuals who have applied for jobs that are not even being called by companies for an interview, let alone obtaining employment. The requirement of seeking a Caymanian applicant for jobs first is being circumvented in many instances. This is a fact!

    We are at a very crucial crossroad as a country and we better pay attention and make wise decisions now! Caymanians can’t just pack-up and move to some other country demanding that we take priority. This is home for us and yes…we must take priority!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I am Caymanian, and I want all foreigners to stay. You guys are the reason this country sparkles with personality, money and a lot of fun events that include our very own people. I understand that it is small and some people are not gaining much in life because they feel they are not getting the help they need.

    My Cayman friends….we can all do this together. No one has to go anywhere. Believe it are not the cake is bigger than we think.

    I love all my foreign friends and family, and it would kill me to see them go.

    This a very unreasonable and unfair move of this country to do that to hard working people.

    There has to be a better way.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I will give you a view from my limited perspective, visiting your island from Canada One of the things I loved was the diversity in the service staff I thought it was a nice thing to have met so many people from all around the world working in the restaurants and bars I went to and I also enjoyed meeting the many caymanians working and socializing they were all very hospitable and I enjoyed meeting them very much as well of course the caymanian accent is one of the best in the Caribbean my visits were from 95 through 2012 Cayman is a great place I do hope nothing changes to drastically

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Why do Caymanians care so much if expats get their money when they leave? Is it just to prove you can jerk them around? It doesn’t benefit any Caymanian one way or the other.

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    • Anon says:

      Actually it does… larger pension funds have economies of scale and cost significantly less to run. It benefits everyone when they get larger… as this means lower fees – although i think only silver thatch and chamber (i.e the large non profit plans) pass this savings on to the member…the others that are open to the public dont use a sliding scale of fees and charge the same reguardless. Some employers have there own private plans eg Jaques Scott but most workers in cayman are with the multi employer plans.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My understanding is that the options regarding a cash out of pension in the UK are also limited. If there is any possibility to cash out, taxes are imposed after there first 25pc of that lump-sum and people are also cautioned as cashing out could push them in another tax bracket in the UK and they would no longer receive the tax benefits from making pension contributions, In addition, it also appears that there are some limitations put on where funds can be transferred to if they are transferred to outside the UK.

    In any event, pension schemes are not set up as a savings account where one can cash out at any time without any penalties/tax impact in order to go and by themselves whatever. That’s not the rational of a pension fund!

    It will be interesting to see how the UK will be dealing with this once Brexit comes into effect as I have a hard time believing that they will let all their expatriate workers who are going to leave the UK after Brexit cash out on their pension without any tax/penalties and limitations applied. IF all expats leaving the UK would cash out their pension funds, it would have a detrimental effect on the pensions of the UK citizens who remain in the UK.

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    • Anonymous says:

      As the money was earned outside the UK, the only taxes will be on any increases to the fund since you moved away from Cayman.
      If you move the pension then when you do retire you will pay tax on your monthly remunerations.

      The pension payments in Cayman was set up for thsoe you will retire in Cayman to ensure they are not a burden to the state. As you don’t want expats to stay it seems odd to have them pay into a Cayman pension in the first place.

      If you pay into a pension fund in the UK while working in the UK you get a tax reduction on that income, hense when you have a payout they then tax it, iotherwise it is double taxation.

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    • Anonymous says:

      UK non-residents can transfer their former-UK pensions to any Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) and achieve greater diversity, and higher returns, so long as diversification tests are met. In order to stem the exodus of pension assets, in March 2017 HMRC instituted an arbitrary 25% tax on QROPS to residents outside the European Economic Area. Go figure!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Dear Respondents,

    Your attacks and harsh criticisms would be valid if we saw the same level thereof against the blatantly anti-Caymanian posts in this very thread.

    Instead, we see a mass thumb ratio of positive support and a few more replies in support – all anonymous of course.

    The majority of you are nothing but self-serving frauds – masquerading like decent people but, in reality, are rotten to the core.

    (Similar to the Republicans / Conservatives of America. In the public forum, every one that speaks condemns his recent words, actions and inactions – yet he maintains a 70% approval rating therefrom … via anonymous polling – but I slightly digress.)

    For the record, I hate no one. I am not anti-immigrant. (I try not to use the racist term “expat” although it is flung around here quite frequently – which is actually a major component of the wider problem.)

    However, I will unrepentantly push for a long-term development policy that does not include a significant degree of permanence as it concerns our immigrant population.

    (We welcome all successful work permit holders an opportunity to make a great living, bask in the sunshine, splash in the beautiful clear water, enjoy the setting, hone your skills, exchange cultures and perspectives … but at the end of day, please do not regard yourself as entitled to remain forever.)

    The basic core factors of our jurisdiction simply cannot successfully support any other approach.

    Unless, of course, all of you don’t care about the rise in crime, instability, and disenfranchised locals but are selfishly focused on securing a permanent piece of a rapidly deteriorating paradise – by any means necessary?

    So, feel free to attack me with personal insults and ad hominems until the cows come home. If that is all you can come up with after reading my post(s) then it says a lot.

    – Whodatis

    P.S. I advise any “expat” that takes offence to the term “immigrant” take up the matter with their home country – as I can guarantee any negative connotations thereto were planted and cultivated therein.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I think the term “migrant worker” is more appropriate than immigrant in most cases.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The fact that you think the majority of us expats are nothing but self-serving frauds-masquerading like decent people pretty much mirrors what most intelligent expats think of Caymanians and especially you. For all the right reasons.

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      • Anonymous says:

        8:50am that’s why people like you should not be in the PR line. Happy cycling.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, I don’t think “the majority of (you) expats are nothing but self-serving frauds-masquerading like decent people”.

        However, as I said previously (if you were capable of basic understanding), when it comes to the expats that are quick to anonymously support the most racist and despicable posts about Caymanians in this very thread – it is clear those are “nothing but self-serving frauds-masquerading like decent people”.

        There is a difference – and not a subtle one either.
        Nevertheless, you and your colleagues can continue to pretend to not see it.

        – Who

        P.S. Did you also take the time and energy to reply and “check” the referenced anti-Caymanian poster?

        No? How come??

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    • Anonymous says:

      For the record you hate expats, are anti immigrant and basically an a$$hole but are ignorant enough to say to everyone that you are not. Its OK Datisyou. We all know you just post for yourself.

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      • Anonymous says:

        By your logic, I then hate half of what I am.
        Interesting.

        Lastly, unless you are me your final sentence makes zero sense.

        Jus sayin …

        – Who

        P.S. I will admit, I do despise every immigrant / expat that generally despises Caymanians as a collective.

        That position I proudly claim and uphold.
        All day. Every day.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Factually and morally incorrect Who. Last poll showed 38% of Americans still support their president, a long way from 70%. And your problem is precisely that, in your view there is only one way, the Who way and you are not prepared to engage or discuss it, but always dragging up irrelevant and out of context matters to distract readers from your inability to put a cohesive argument together. Precisely as Trump does. How interesting.

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      • Anonymous says:

        70% of Republicans / Conservatives approve of Trump’s handling of the Charlottesville situation.

        Therefore not factually or morally incorrect.

        Feel free to try again though – but next time, try to pay closer attention.

        – Who

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately this is not a reasoned comment and just shows your inherent bias and absorption in the twists and spin of US journalists. You cannot slam an entire group of people just because they don’t share your views. They have their own reasons for their beliefs and it is not yours to judge!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, don’t care.

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      Says the guy who wasn’t even born here….

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      • Anonymous says:

        Ok there, Bub,

        Where was I born?

        – Who

        P.S. Btw, you are officially obsessed.
        On every possible occasion you are right there – speculating and issuing claims regarding my background, parentage, etc.

        I may have to take out a restraining order on your stalking ass.
        (“I am a boy Damon!!”)

        Lol 😉

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        • Anonymous says:

          Trump did nothing wrong, you’re an idiot if you believe the mainstream news in the USA. Antifa are violent communist scum.

    • johnnyfever says:

      Your comment is the most racist of all! What you have done is exactly what is wrong with the American left right now and the media spin and talking points they use! The main purpose is to shut down discourse and slam anyone who doesn’t think exactly the way you do! That is not critical thinking. That is emotional nonsense and does nothing to further any discourse which is I suspect, why you posted! People in America are using Divisive Politics to shut down the other side. It disgusts me that you are foolish enough to use the left’s talking points. What next… pink baseball bats of peace? This is the fascism wrapped in social justice of the left!

      Everyone stuck on this island by chance or choice, white or black or hispanic should and will have a voice! And remember you are an immigrant population first and foremost…descended from immigrants unless you can say you are descended from the original population centuries ago on this island!

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      • Anonymous says:

        You forgot the Asians. Shame on you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Someone needs to “get outta their feelings” (as the kids say today), re-read my post and gain a proper understanding thereof before soap-boxing from misconstrued positions.

        – Who

        *Btw, why are you on this right v left crap? The fact you believe any of that is relevant to me lets me further know that you are way off-target in your reply.

        ** Did you also take the time to post a damning reply to the blatantly discriminatory anti-Caymanian poster earlier in the thread?

        No? Et tu JohnnyFever?

        (foh)

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    • get real says:

      “So, feel free to attack me with personal insults and ad hominems until the cows come home. If that is all you can come up with after reading my post(s) then it says a lot”

      “The majority of you are nothing but self-serving frauds – masquerading like decent people but, in reality, are rotten to the core”

      “For the record, I hate no one.”

      You could not make this stuff up. You fine sir are threading on the line between too much time and not enough sense.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you make it a habit to read, process, dissect, cut (albeit conveniently out of context), paste, and regurgitate nonsense?

        I doubt that.

        Clearly something in my post has struck a chord within you.
        I’ll now leave you to your thoughts and emotions.

        – Who

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        • Get real! says:

          Boooo!!!

          Out of context has nothing to do with the irony cast by your garbage language. Further jr i did not reframe your weak rasict filled argument. I did however reveal your hate and irony.

          #Caymanian

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    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently a number of my respondents failed to see my greeting towards them in my previous post.

      Additionally, my words have somehow been misconstrued to having been directed to expats / immigrants as a whole, much less as a referenced target at all.

      It is always very sad to see intelligent people intentionally dumb-down themselves, form a mob and dishonestly attack an individual.
      Nevertheless, not in the least bit surprising.

      Anyway, as the old Cayman saying goes; “Throw a rock in pig-pen and the one that squeals …”

      Yeah.

      Excerpt:
      [Dear Respondents,

      Your attacks and harsh criticisms would be valid if we saw the same level thereof against the blatantly anti-Caymanian posts in this very thread.

      Instead, we see a mass thumb ratio of positive support and a few more replies in support – all anonymous of course.

      The majority of you are nothing but self-serving frauds – masquerading like decent people but, in reality, are rotten to the core. … ]

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  8. Anonymous says:

    The truth is very difficult to listen to.

  9. Beaumont Zodecloun says:

    This change to the pension law is a travesty. How can we ask expats to come here, be forced to pay into our pension ‘scheme’* and then not be allowed to take it with them when WE force them to leave the country!!! WTF??? How is that fair in any way possible? It’s bad enough that Caymanians like myself have lost thousands of dollars from this mandatory scheme, but to impose it on the very necessary expats and then deny them the cashout? Horrible idea.

    *”scheme” for many expats means to “make plans, especially in a devious way or with intent to do something illegal or wrong.” Very apropos in this case.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    The real issue is education. If Caymanian children had an adequate educations they would be competitive in the workplace. No employer wants to, unnecessarily, go through hiring a foreigner when there is a capable local who can do the job equally.

    That leads into babies having babies. If birth control was readily available, maybe, we would not have so many teen mothers ill equipped to raise productive children.

    That also leads to the ‘heritage’ issue. Which is, we are used to having low income earners do all the stuff we are too lazy to do. I.e. Helpers, gardeners, fast food workers, handymen.
    A Jollibee worker in the Philippines earns approximately 250 pesos per day, that is around CI $4.15. You can see why they are motivated to keep their jobs. They can work one week, and send home more than a month’s wages. What our our kids taught? If you are unmotivated Government will bail you out, and pick up your tab, just go back to watching you tube videos.

    That also leads into the cost of doing business, a Caymanian, like it or not my friends, is going to be a bigger pain in the backside then a foreigner. We do not (for the most part) have the same work ethic, sad but true.

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    • Caymanian says:

      Strangely you disprove your own point. You say education solves our problem because supposedly employers don’t want to do permits but you then tell us why they do.

      I agree that SOME employers find it that way but many do not. Many do prefer foreigner because of those reasons you have stated and these expanded below

      1. Control – By asking an employee to do more than their job actually requires them. Not that I mind doing work but some bosses are just downright abusive on this point. By holding a permit over their heads employees are generally FORCED to do it.

      2. Make it back – Employers generally make it back by paying less than they would a local. If you worked 45 hrs a week then that’s 2,340 hrs a year. If you paid $1 less then you would recover $2,340 a year. On top of that you would not have to pay the 5% pensions for 9 months which could amount to another $500 or more depending on the rate per hour. So as you can see it’s an upfront cost yes but could easily be recovered.

      So to your point no, Caymanians no matter how educated are not always the employee of choice to employers. Many see the advantages of going foreign for a variety of reasons. Some like the diverse education and or experience foreign workers have while some are old school like the ones listed above.

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      • Anonymous says:

        6.34…I see your point, however regret it is no longer valid. We can no longer find the people we need in the Caymanian work force, although we try. Either the qualifications are not there (and we need qualified people, our work would not be accepted by our clients otherwise). And whilst this is not true for all, there is this issue with attitude, not turning up for interviews, not working whilst here, on the phone doing private stuff all day, and other things mentioned by far too many people. There is an answer, and education is a large part of it…people need to be taught not just qualifications, but the realities of the world in terms of employment and what is expected. I can tell you the work permit thing is a pain in the butt. I would much rather employ Caymanians. My costs would be much lower even when paying the same salary as to an expat.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Fair enough, and what you state is accurate from my experience. But I still like to give they locals a chance. I have had zero staff turn over in the last four years. And I hope to make it five years.

          Yes, you have to work harder initially with local employees, but if you treat your people right, and empower them they will perform well. I think most people want to succeed. They have just been given a framework of failure.

      • Anonymous says:

        True

      • Anonymous says:

        I would disagree, especially given that I only hire Caymanian. I am he Donald Trump of Cayman proud. I am only pointing out our short comings. And knowing your faults can help to resolve them. Peace out.

      • Anonymous says:

        You know, I was just thinking of one of my past employees. Her father (out of the picture) was Caymanian, her mother was Jamaican. She really struggled with Maths. She failed her Maths exam at JGHS, and had to go to CIFEC. She was shattered. She was a really bright girl. Just from an educationally unenriched background. Her family was loving, but did not have the tools or education to assist her.

        I spent hours working with her, teaching her mathematical concepts. She is now in her second year at University in the U.K. And doing great. She will never be a math major, but at least I helped her move on, an be a productive member of society and pursue her dreams. So, we can all just give a little.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not education. Culture. You don’t have a culture that teaches you to work hard, value education, and follow laws. Its how you grow up. Most other l countries have way different values in their culture. Please don’t take offense but Caymanians will not change until they start to integrate themselves into a more modern version of an old culture.

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