It’s no secret that international business is the last leg on which our economy stands.
We must acquire and maintain the skills that enable this pillar to flourish and prevent an economic catastrophe. The immigration digitisation project is one of the few practical Government projects to make Bermuda work smarter.
We’ve now spent $356,880 to computerize a process which should have been reformed years ago. We’re digitizing a process which in any other peer jurisdiction hasn’t been on paper in twenty years.
Further, we advertise ourselves as a modern, FinTech-interested country. But if you want to hire a guest worker for your FinTech firm in Bermuda, you’d better have enough pens and paper. The mixed messages are staggering.
In a December 2021 Ministerial Statement, Minister Jason Hayward said, “This work originally commenced in November 2020.”
In response to Opposition questions in the House of Assembly, the Minister said, “The automation of the majority of our application forms is slated for early January 2022. In terms of the end-to-end processing, that is going to take a little bit more time. We are aiming for the next fiscal year for our end-to-end processing of the majority of application types.”
This means that the project, which started 31 months ago, should have been completed two months ago. Instead, we learn that the key solution forming the basis of the project, “does not fully satisfy the expectation for full automation of all applications processed by the Department of Immigration.”
So instead of completion, we learn that we’re back to square one. Or not? We don’t know because unless Senator Robin Tucker pressed, we still wouldn’t know even this much .
What we do know is that a business analyst is reviewing the project to recommend a way forward and only once the work has been completed the Government will know a way forward. Given the 31-months of work already undertaken, one hopes this process will be quick.
As it stands, we don’t have a new timeline or cost for the completion of this crucial project. This project was first budgeted $80,000 and has since ballooned to $356,880, and is counting.