Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette tabled information in the House of Assembly yesterday, revealing that nearly 2,600 people were granted citizenship in the four-and-a-half years the FNM has been in power.
A total of 2,590 applications for citizenship were approved between May 2, 2007 to December 31, 2011.
The majority of people who received Bahamian citizenship were born in The Bahamas to foreigners and/or lived here all their lives. Many others were women married to Bahamian men.
The individuals born in The Bahamas had a constitutional entitlement to apply for citizenship.
This contrasts with the five years of the Christie adminsitration when 2,083 citizenship applications wre granted.
However, under the Christie administration, the government granted just over 10,000 more permits to reside between May 2, 2002 and May 2, 2007 than the present government has in its four-and-a-half years to date.
In addition to the approval of 2,590 applications for citizenship, the FNM government also approved 1,710 applications for permanent resident permits; 2,020 spousal permits and 12,678 permits to reside between May 2, 2007 and December 31, 2011.
During the entire five-year term of the Christie administration, 1,582 permanent resident permits were approved, 2,286 spousal permits were granted and 22,839 permits to reside were approved.
Symonette said 8,116 work permits were granted in 2009; 9,390 were granted in 2010, and 7,091 work permits were granted in 2011. More than half of them were for unskilled jobs such as handymen and housekeepers.
As a consequence of the high unemployment levels in the Bahamas, 2,299 fewer permits were issued in 2011 than were issued in 2010, Mr Symonette reported.
According to Symonette, in 2011, 115 work permits were granted for accountants; 145 for cooks; 291 for construction workers; 150 for bankers; 2,122 for handymen and 1,671 for housekeepers, just to list a few.
In comparison, in 2010, 119 work permits were granted for accountants; 141 for cooks, 565 for construction workers; 186 for bankers; 3,036 for handymen and 1,871 for housekeepers.
Mr Symonette added that the Department of Immigration’s policy on the issuance of work permits is in line with the government’s job training program, which seeks to train Bahamians in areas that are currently held by foreigners.