NASSAU – A directive from newly installed Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis stipulates that Bahamians must fill all available posts before any consideration is given to foreigners.
In fact, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes made it clear that he has already been “very strict” in approving labour certificates for work permits and has denied or deferred several applications since taking office just over two weeks ago.
“The Prime Minister has given me directions to ensure that no foreigner gets a permit where there is a Bahamian available to do the job,” Foulkes said while speaking on a local radio talk show yesterday.
Noting the Bahamas has “a serious unemployment problem”, Foulkes was adamant there would be no backing down from implementing the policy.
“Wherever there is a Bahamian who is qualified to do the job and a foreigner or an expat is applying for that position, we will refuse the application,” he insisted.
He cited a recent case where a work permit request from a hotel was turned down because there were unemployed Bahamians qualified to fill the post.
“We had an application from a major hotel for a food and beverage director. I declined it, because there are Bahamians who are trained in food and beverage in this country who are unemployed and we know who they are and we are sending some of them to that hotel to be interviewed,” the minister said.
Foulkes expressed concern that some companies were trying various tactics to bypass the rule, charging that some had set unfair criteria to deter Bahamians.
“For example, say you want a front desk manager at one of the hotels, but [the candidate] must be fluent in four languages. That’s absolutely ridiculous. What that means is they have somebody at their head office who speaks four languages and they want to bring them to Nassau.”
He disclosed that where special skills were required, the employer must identify a Bahamian who has skills in that area to train for the post, to eventually take over from the foreign worker.