Chamber: Standardized 25% Duty Rate

January 22, 2012

The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce’s Retail Division clarified its position regarding any proposed increases on personal import duties, calling for “an across the board, standardized duty rate of 25%” regardless of how they are imported.

Last month Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox said, “At the airport the rate is 35% however via other methods of import, the rates vary from 5% to 33.5%.

“Because of the inconsistent duty rates across methods of import, Government efforts to support local business are not as effective as intended. Therefore the Government will examine changes to duty rates for personal imports.”

Mailboxes Unlimited president Stephen Thomson has spoken out against additional duty increases, urging residents to contact their MPs, call talk shows or take other actions as a duty hike would be “destructive to both residents and Bermuda as a whole.”

A statement issued said, “The Chamber’s Retail Division is on record as having reached out to the Ministry of Finance, and in particular the Premier, in 2010 and again in 2011, for tax relief and other fiscal support to keep their doors open.

“Since that time the Retail Division of The Chamber of Commerce has through its membership, continued to lobby Government for an across the board, standardized duty rate of 25% for the importation of all personal goods, whether they are imported through the airport, the post office, a local courier, shipping agent or consolidator.”

Chamber EVP Joanne MacPhee explained further; “The Chamber’s Retail Division is supportive of a move to standardize the import duty charged on personal goods.

“Bermuda’s retail industry is in crisis and like many of our divisions they do need Government’s support if they are to survive in this harsh economic climate. The EEZ and newly branded BEDC are alongside others, doing their part to support local commerce, and we applaud them for that.

“We all know there are less people in Bermuda now then there was three years ago, and those who are here are spending less and shopping more online. This is all having a very direct and negative impact on local commerce, so yes something has to give if local retailers are to survive.”

“What that might look like has yet to be agreed. Perhaps this is the time to step back and look at the bigger picture and consider whether or not there is a viable alternative to taxation through import duties,” concluded Ms MacPhee.

The Chamber will be hosting an economics panel on Wednesday, January 25th, at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, where this and other issues facing the local economy will be discussed.

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  1. 21 Square | January 22, 2012
  1. The Hell!! says:

    Finally some one is making sense thank you Chamber of Commerce Retail Board. Paula Cox Minister of Finance please pay attention. You may learn something.

    • Ride says:

      Conspiracy theory: the Retail sector and the Government are in cahoots. This is a classic lesser of two evils scenario.

      First you get one party to announce an “outrageous” proposition; 35% duty. This gets the public all in a fury over the proposition. However, your aim is not 35% but 25% (which is just as outrageous).

      To put the plan in motion you then have the other party announce the lower “more reasonable” 25%. Since you introduced the 35% as the intention any value below that will be more welcomed. Now the public calms down a bit as they feel they have been listened to and that they have exerted pressure to enact change.

      But its all a farce! The public would have been just as outraged at the 25% if it was introduced first. 25% is a monstrous increase over the 6.5% and other lower duty rates that are currently in place.

      The fact of the matter is that retail is dying because they refuse to innovate. Of all these whinging retailers, how many have an online store where you can purchase anything they have in stock and have it delivered to your door or office? You can’t purchase a pair of socks online from these businesses! They know that people shop online but rather than go to where the business is they choose to lobby to prevent consumer convenience.

      How many of these whinging retailers have overseas warehouse space where they can stage how much upfront duty they pay? Also, their online orders could be fulfilled from this location further reducing upfront cost.

      How many of these whinging retailers have opened up their audited books over the last 10 years so the public can see what their true status is? They are asking the public to pay to keep them open but the public has no information on their state. Are they talking a decrease from 80% profit to 40% profit? That is still profitable. Why should I have to pay for you on no information!?!

      Retailers want us to purchase what they feel like bringing in at the ridiculous prices they charge (the overwhelming majority, but not all). Last year’s no-name brand electronics at prices I can land (direct non-courier/forwarding shipping + duty) two or more of this year’s name brand electronics. Clothing that is never in my size or something that I don’t wish to wear. Most experiences (55%) with service are abysmal.

      Currently I support Buy Bermuda within reason. If it is the same product that I am looking for and if the Bermuda price is not too much higher (say, 5% to 10%) then what I can land it (direct non-courier/forwarding shipping and duty) I purchase Bermuda. Retailers, be forewarned that if shipping duty rates increase one iota that I will non-longer consider the Bermuda Retail percentage increase and will purchase from overseas if the difference is cheaper; even be it a penny.


      • Ride says:


        And furthermore, what of the multitude of cases where what a person wants simply is not available from a local retailer? Why should a person be penalised if a what they want is not available locally? Retailers are notorious for “special orders” taking (literally!) months to arrive with no form of tracking or updates. You can’t even be certain that it will be the item you’ve ordered.

        Again, retailers don’t give a broken bats eardrum about consumer wants or needs. They just want to control who we purchase from, what we purchase and the exorbitant price we pay.


  2. Boom says:

    Unsurprising from the retail here. Instead of working together to modify their product model they look to modify the competitions. Epic fail.

    • Whistling Frog says:

      The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce’s Retail Division has come out suggesting a standardized 25% duty rate for personal imports. This move won’t be well received by many and could spell a death knell for the buy Bermuda campaign. Standardizing duty……

      • Whistling Frog says:

        This won’t stop retail prices from going up and these express courier services are getting pathetic with their dumb custom agents who continue to get the duties wrong on incoming goods and packages then have the nerve to then tell you to apply for your money back from the government customs office… American Express is a prime example of doing this, they do this every time.

        • Think About It says:

          So tired of people saying everything is customs fault. For your information a forwarding agent (i.e. Fed ex, mailboxes etc.) completes the paperwork (including choosing the duty rate) and then customs REVIEWS it

    • andre says:

      I hear you!

  3. GMS says:

    Yep, five years ago when the economy was booming, no one seemed too concerned about the Mailboxes and ZipX’s doing their thing. Now that times are tough and you really have to compete to get the customer dollar, the whining has started. When the tide goes out, you can see who’s been swimming naked!

    Times are tough, folks are struggling and jobs are disappearing. So let’s raise taxes on bermudians and make it tougher. Great idea.

  4. James s says:

    That will be the end of camera sales here. This used to be one of the cheapest places in the world to buy a camera. Increasing duty by 16.5% will not help as I would definitely shop overseas for the better selection.

    • John Galt says:

      The Retail Division is recommending the 25% duty for everything for everyone…except for them, of course

    • rubber bong says:

      increasing duty is one thing but thats nearly a 200% increase on duty for cameras. a proportionate increase sounds more fair as people shopping for cameras or other low duty items are being punished more than others. and like others said, i buy equipment/goods that i wouldn’t normally be able to get here so raising duty has no bearing on the local retailer cause they don’t even have the item. So the objective of helping the retailer is lost and the only help i’m giving is helping to replace the money that this govt has squandered.

    • Meh says:

      James, you are missing the Chambers point. The stores will still be able to bring them in at the lower duty. YOU just won’t be able to bring them in at the lower duty from overseas.

  5. About what I'd expected says:

    To summarize the Chamber’s statement: “We don’t want to have to compete so do something so we don’t have to!”

    • employees says:

      Um, there is no way that Retail in Bermuda can complete against the likes of Amazon or Target as employees costs are too high.

      Long Term I guess you think we should just kiss 2000 of the 4000 retail jobs goodbye and shop overseas for everything!

      That’ll help the country really well!

      • star man says:

        Triminghams (the first retailer to come to mind as they do not need a storefront anymore) and other retailers should open on-line stores with same-day free delivery. Change your business model; you’ll have to eventually. Triminghams likely would do quite well considering its reputation both here and abroad. Visitors are shocked to hear that it had been torn down and replaced with a totally un-Bermudian new building housing the Hongkong Singapore Banking Corporation.

  6. Cancer says:

    Cox needs all the help she can get… Clueless!

  7. ishta says:

    ..Good day to all the beautiful people of Bermuda.mmm i would say like 5% would be cool..and no tax for importing of food…its essential not a luxury..anyway .Peace,Good Health and Happiness to ALL..PS.a big drop on fuel import tax would be pretty cool too.

    • I dream too says:

      Yeah , I’d love to have your dream list too .. The problem is , we’ll never have it unless we had a government who could figure out how to run this pebble in the ocean on about $120,000,000 a year instead of over a Billion (and growing) !

      • ishta says:

        ..@i dream..yes my friend, lets keep the dream alive…throw much lower rents on there too…heheheh…..The three real things of concern for lots of us..high rents ,high belco, high food prices…yup..may the Great Spirit Guide Protect and comfort you and those close to you..and to all my people..Peace

        • I dream too says:

          Our incredibly high cost of living is driven by two (ok ,maybe 3) things.
          An incredibly inefficient government structure that has to over tax us to pay for their ineptitude.This then has to be recouped by all businesses and service providers.
          Greed by land/house owners in the form of falsely high real estate and rent prices (couple that with bank greed for outrageous mortgage rates)
          And that 3rd one .. one we cant get away from no matter how hard we try ..everything has to be imported.

          But this recession (maybe soon to become a depression) is going to ‘reset the dial’ for a lot of people in a most unpleasant way. They too are going to have to get by with a whole lot less too.

          I’m also amongst the recently unemployed and I am going to skip on every little unneeded thing and barter with service providers until they get the message. They cannot screw us anymore …them days are over ! !

          Bless you for your thoughts .

          • Ryan says:

            … might want to check the definition of a ‘depression.’ No, we’re not in good economic shape, but Bermuda is stil far, far from a depression.

            • I dream too says:

              The old expression says that if your friend loses their job it’s a recession .. If you lose your job it’s a depression.

              Well , for me and about 3000 others it’s a depression .

              And it’s nowhere near over yet .

  8. Triangle Drifter says:

    I must be showing my age but within my working life the duty free allowance was equal to almost 2 weeks worth of wages for a blue collar worker not that long ago.

    It has been whittled away to nothing.

    Essentials shopping for me only. The rest can stay on the shelves.

    This is nothing but a money grab by a desperate Government. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

    • Hmmmmm says:

      A proposal from the Chamber of Commerce is a money grab by a desperate Government ? You are showing your age………that’s how it used to be….its really a desperate money grab by dead sector…….like the “Government” they used to be.

  9. Death to Party Politics says:

    Internet sales and personal imports have been in effect for years now. What was masking that trend was the number of IB and tourist-related sales that these retailers were getting. Now that IB is trickling out and, well, we all know the state of the tourism industry, it’s just hit the retailers that ‘oh wow, locals can’t prop up our businesses!’ Retail sales decline hit around the same time IB starting leaving, and tourism numbers started noticeably dropping. There is an obvious and direct correlation here.

    Which speaks to how short-sighted people are who scorn the existence of IB and tourists on the island. Folks, Bermuda is a service-driven economy. We produce nothing that can sustain us. That’s the reality, and it’s time we all woke up to it.

    The absolute worst thing to do is raise taxes now. People are holding onto their pennies more than ever; already this past week 36 jobs were lost and we’re still in the first month of the year. More IB companies leaving and local businesses closing are known within those respective industries. If people are going to be flogged 35% on imports, they’ll buy less overseas, which means less revenue for Government. And not spending it abroad doesn’t necessarily translate to ‘spending it here’. If that’s the line of thinking, our policymakers are going to be in for a rude awakening.

    • Well said says:

      We all know that increasing duties is a tax grab. No more. No less. And, as you say, reduced spending abroad does not translate into increased spending here.

    • employees says:

      If you don’t spend it abroad then where do you spend it?

      You either save it (help the economy) or spend it here on something else (help the economy)

      As for Tax revenue, its very doubtful this will be a Tax windfall for government, the volumes just aren’t that large.

      • Rick Rock says:

        Increased taxes will reduce spending and demand. It won’t save a single retail job.

        Reduced spending will not “help the economy”. Reduced consumer confidence destroys jobs. It doesn’t create anything.

      • Death to Party Politics says:

        Easy: don’t spend at all except on the absolute essentials. It’s been years since I did any major consumer shopping in Bermuda. I’m not one that buys alot of stuff anyways, so ‘not spending’ is simple enough for me. Can’t speak for others, though….

  10. Valerie says:

    I buy Bermuda and shop abroad, but the mark ups need to be addressed. People may then buy Bermuda more as seen on black Friday. Here are 2 negative retail examples. In one of the leading hardware stores a designer door knocker I bought abroad was $100 and here $550. Also a scale from a leading sporting good shop $108, but marked down to $59 and in the U.S. $19.99. Even with duty and weight it would not be their prices. Why should we be penalized with extra duty for the retailers greed.

    • GMS says:

      This is a situation where both retailers and consumers need to realise something. You should both act in your own best interests. Retailers are in business to make a profit by importing goods for resale. They should sell them for as much as they can. Consumers, on the other hand, should be in the habit of looking to spend as little as possible for what they want or need, and they mostly do this.

      The problem arises when retailers don’t react to market signals and adjust their pricing and selection. If a widge they price at $10 doesn’t sell then drop the price. If, in order to sell it, they have to drop the price below the level at which they can make a positive return on the sale, they should cease importing that widget, or find a cheaper source that would allow them to compete at the level that local consumers will allow.

      They don’t seem to want to do this. Their strategy, as represented by the Chamber, is to work in the direction of regulatory capture, where they convince (a very willing) regulator to raise import taxes on their competition. This is not the way build a solid and sustainable economy. If we are able to buy goods cheaper than local retailers can supply them, it is in our interest to do so. Expending more resources than needed to acquire goods is folly. The money saved can, and generally will, be used for expenditures on other items or for investment. The government, for short term and short-sighted reasons, should not allow this.

      Why do we want to hamstring the sectors of the local economy that are working and providing services to local consumers at prices they want. The retail sector should be the one to reform and change how they do business. They may have to realise that some elements of their business are not economically viable in 21st Century Bermuda. Focus on elements that are and exploit those.

      The bermudian consumer should not be made to feel guilty for doing their utmost to maximize their economic utility. Do we have a free market or not here in Bda? Or at least the semblance of a free market?

      • LOL (original) says:

        The solution is simple the stores need to learn from the online shopper. They have the buying power to buy in bulk from the same online vendors and can most likely get it even cheaper. Also they could have taken advantage of the imports duty the way they are and bring stuff in the cheapest way possible. The only issue is the retailer will have to actively keep an eye on the stock as to order on time and PAY ATTENTION to what the consumer wants. The internet is here get “up to de tymes.”


  11. Itsaboutallofus says:

    So people get all up in arms when an email goes around suggesting the Premier will raise everything to 35%. Mind you, the Premier never actually said that. But nevertheless, the Chamber of Commerce says make everything 25% and people are cool with it. Is it matter of who is saying it, versus what is actually being said?

    • star man says:

      I am certainly not “cool with it!” I may even cut up my Credit Cards.

    • Think About It says:

      Beat it, kool-aid drinking PLP dillybop. People don’t want either tax rate, and there were numerous articles where she did actually say it.

  12. Disgusted says:

    These Chamber people & Co. really, really irritate me. You all are trying to blackmail us into buying at your stores instead of trying to make your stores more attractive to the shopper. These stores cannot tell me that they are not turning a profit. These sales clerks are paid next to nothing while the owners reap in big profits-maybe not as large as times gone by but a profit nonetheless.

    We the public do what we need to do because we want to save/acquire money just like these shopowners do. These retailers order their stock from overseas, thereby sending money out of the country so what’s the difference when WE do it? All we’re doing is cutting out the middleman. These retailers don’t care that we’d be shelling out big bucks in import duties thus hitting us hard in the pocketbook-they just want to force us to buy from them, make them rich and to hell with us.

    They need to grow the hell up and face the fact that this is the real world and that’s just the way it goes, and stop being so greedy and selfish. In the U.S. they have pointed out that more and more people are buying online because it’s cheaper as there is no storefront, and that the brick-and-mortar stores are having a hard time keeping up. The U.S. hasn’t said that they will drastically increase sales tax online to force people to buy from physical stores, have they?This isn’t just a Bermuda problem but you don’t see the storeowners out there whining, do you? They’ve been forced to be more creative in luring shoppers into their stores so why don’t the local retailers try that instead of these blackmail tactics?

    I’m putting the local stores on notice that if this goes through because of their crybaby tantrums that I will start a personal crusade to boycott these local stores and make sure you get exactly ZERO of our hardearned cash, and we’ll see how long you all last after THAT.

    As for the PLP who want to do this just to put money in their coffers because they know we’ll shop overseas anyway, the same goes for you. I will make sure to remind the public of exactly why you’re doing this and start a crusade to tell all PLP members to stay away from the polls in protest so you know what that means. People are disgusted and fed up-they’re saying that this will be the last straw and the final nail in your greedy, incompetent coffin so increase the duty at your own peril. Just remember that when you are voted out, you’ll be stuck paying that same 25 or 35% as the rest of us ‘minions’ and you won’t have your hefty ministerial salaries to help you out!!!

    • employees says:

      And what about the 4000 employees in local retail? To hell with them too right.

      Funny how the selfish among us don’t care who is out of work as long as its not them.

      • Rick Rock says:

        What crap you write.

        Over the past year, the areas of retail that have suffered have been auto, marine, and food. Nobody brings in cars boats or food by courier. Those areas have reduced radically not because of Amazon, but because the population has reduced, Expats are leaving, and no new ones are arriving. Houses are empty.

        Several other areas of retail are doing fine, according to government stats. Retail apparel has done better than 2010 for the past half year. Tourist-related shops have done better. Hardware and Building materials retail is doing much better. So those don’t appear to need any help.

        The PLP resends it is ‘saving jobs’ by doing this, but it will not save one single job. Auto retailers, food retailers and the like will have to adjust to the new reality: there are less people here, and much less people moving here.

        Increasing taxes will actually depress demand and make the situation worse. It will be a classic Laffer Curve effect.

        A year from now, if she’s still in power, Cox will be doing one of her famous U-Turns.

      • Sandman says:

        I don’t think you understand economics. If personal duty goes up to 25%, then that’s a 17% increase for clothing.

        So I either buy my clothes locally and pay more. Or I pay the 17% increase and continue to ship in my clothes. Or I can knit my own clothes (although maybe not, if they put up the duty on wool)

        Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that, despite their poor selection and ridiculous prices, I don’t boycott the local shops. Hurray – I save a retail job.

        However, I am now WORSE OFF, as I have less money in my pocket and a poorer selection of clothing.

        So I have to save money elsewhere. So, for example, I cut the number of times I go to a restaurant each year.

        Do you see what just happened? I SAVED a retail job, but I also DESTROYED a restaurant job, as that restaurant no longer gets my custom and the waiter no longer gets my tips.

        How exactly have I been selfish? The only selfish people that I can see here are the retailers trying to persuade government to undermine their competitors.

        It’s not just mailboxes and consumers who should be concerned about this. Anybody who works in any business which relies on people spending their discretionary income is going to suffer big time if this duty change comes in.

        • Lol (imposter) says:

          Going from paying $6.50 on $100 to $25 on $100 is actually wayyyyy more than a 17% increase. More like a near 400% hike. 35% represents a 500% hike, as far as the difference between what you pay on $100. Bernews recently had an article with a chart, showing that on $500, the difference in going from 6.5 percent to 35 percent is going from paying 35 dollars to 175 dollars, or something to that effect.

        • Lol (imposter) says:

          That’s a good point. If you devise a plan that’s intended to ‘force’ people to spend money in this way, it’s going to backfire. Somewhere else something will have to be cut…’s the law of unintended consequences at work.

  13. Graeme Outerbridge says:

    We already pay too much to Government….NO MORE!!! Chamber are Clueless as always^^

    • Rick Rock says:

      Completely agree Graeme.

      The government is grabbing money. They want a big increase in tax revenue.

      The Chamber doesn’t care about tax income, but loves the idea of less competition. They like the protection they think this provides to the local retailers. So they definitely have an axe to grind.

      For the rest of us, all this means is (a) taxes are going up, and (b) the local retailers continue to have incentive to compete, either on price or on service. That’s why prices are still high, and service in many retail establishments is still terrible.

      And this is from a PLP government. The people that will feel this most are poorer people with less financial flexibility. Hopefully they will start to realize that the PLP, with its wasteful spending, its anti-IB stance, and its terrible management of the economy, is costing us all more of our hard-earned money.

      • employees says:

        Are you serious, the PLP’s Anti-IB stance? Do you really believe the crap you type.

        A 300% growth in insurance over 13 years hardly qualifies for Anti-IB stance. Get a clue!

        • jt says:

          Indeed – get a clue. 300% growth in registered companies. Net loss in human presence. Result – decreased revenue for government/Bermuda and, in the case of this artcile, retailers. Exodus of human capital all due to anti IB? No. Heightened by it? Yes.

        • Shaking the Head says:

          What does 300% growth refer to – number of jobs; number of jobs for Bermudians; number of jobs for expats, premium income, profit; number of companies?
          The PLP has had to do little to encourage IB. The Insurance industry grew since 1998 primarily because of disaters that impacted other people especially 9/11 and 2005 natural disatsers. Do you mean the PLP were behind those disasters to get growth here?
          Anti IB, yes. All that talk of Sven and Johny; anti white; term limits to name 3. You obviously don’t know how IB operates. IB doesn’t need Bermuda – Bermuda needs IB.

        • Rick Rock says:

          The PLP has been openly hostile towards IB. Brown, Burch etc delighted in making life as difficult as possible for IB.

          IB has taken the hint and is leaving, and what has that resulted in? Thousands of Bermudians unemployed. A sharp reduction in tax revenues. Empty rental houses. Reduced property values. Empty offices. Cox increases taxes in a recession rather than reigning in spending.

          Burch and his mates must be very proud at what they’ve “achieved”.

          • clowns says:

            I prefer to listen to the praise i hear from the industry for the PLP’s approach to IB as opposed to the baseless crap spouted on here. PLP gets credit for nothing and blame for everything.

            Keep believing your own hype, facts are facts.

    • not a happy Bermudian says:

      Totally agree with Graeme . . . Chamber is clueless & they shot themselves in the foot by increasing the grats in restaurants, so much so, Bermudians such as myself rarely eats out now as the service in our restaurants has a lot to be desired! So all the more reason to boycott the Chamber’s retailers, when they do not bring in what you like to start off with! Oh, and I use to only buy what I could not buy here as I used to believe in supporting local business, but now you’ve just kicked in the shins Chamber & PLP Government that I will not if this TAX INCREASE proceeds!!!!

    • LaVerne Furbert says:

      Everbody is clueless except you Graeme. The Corporation of Hamilton is clueless, the PLP is clueless, the OBA/UBP is clueless, the BIU is clueless, etc. etc. etc.

  14. says:

    This isn’t going to make me shop Bermuda – I still don’t want to deal with untrained workers who have no social skills and the 200% mark up on sub-standard goods. Anyway – how am I going to buy Bermuda when they don’t have what I want or need and the only way I can get it is to shop online!!!

    • Claudio says:

      I always wonder about people who make such comments as if Bermuda has the only issue with customer service. For the record, MAJORITY of Bermudian retail workers have been polite and helpful in my experience very few bad experiences. I’ve been to the US and Canada and had some bad experiences just like here i.e. waiting in Best Buy for 30 mins before having a person to help… going to an store and the CA having no idea about a product Im inquiring about.

      People love to over exaggerate about customer service here, like customer service overseas is impeccable. I’ve lived in two countries for years and it is not that much different. People love to bash Bermudians…

      • ID14 says:

        Going off-topic, but time for restaurants and bars to stop adding a mandatory 15-18% tip to the bill. Why should we be forced to tip terrible service?? I will gladly tip good service, as will many others.

        Back on topic, No to a standardized or increased duty. I buy everything abroad, as the style, variety and price in Bermuda is shocking. Eg, try buying a normal pair of jeans (at a normal price) on-island. You can’t. They are either ridiculously over priced, or covered in bling.

  15. Boom Bye Bye says:

    “personal import duties” what does that mean exactly?

  16. Family Man says:

    The Horse & Buggy Division of the Chamber of Commerce today implored the government to ban the importation of mechanized buggies. They noted that a large segment of Bermuda’s population is employed as blacksmiths and feed merchants for the horses that are the backbone of our economy. If we allow these noisy, dirty, mechanized buggies into Bermuda, employment, and in fact, the whole economy will suffer.

    • Sandman says:

      Here’s what I see will be the main impact of putting all personal import duty at 25%:

      Companies like Mailboxes will re-package their service to be more like the Price-Busters guy / Conspec etc.

      You tell them what to order, they then order it, bring it in for you and sell it to you.

      Taking this one step further, what’s to stop me from setting up such an enterprise on a small scale for my friends and family? I become a small shop who brings stuff in on order for friends, then charge a small commission for the headaches of doing it. Of course, I’d need to find a friend to do the same for when I want to order stuff.

      In the end, the local shops still don’t have any more customers, but the rest of us have a lot more headaches to deal with.

  17. Claudio says:

    Why dont they talk to the landlords to lower rents to lower their operational costs?
    And they really think increasing duty 25% will prevent people fro shopping overseas? lol… clueless, most people shop online/overseas to get goods they cannot buy here. You think people like paying high shipping costs?

    Mess with Bermudians and their shopping and see what happens

    • Lol (imposter) says:

      Alot of the landlords are paying huge mortgages on those buildings being subsidized by the rent they charge. Some can, but I bet many imply cannot lower the rent. It’s a catch 22 all around.

      • Claudio says:

        Alot of those buildings are free and clear and have been passed down from generations. I agree some of those landlords are paying large mortgages, however, apart from washington mall (newest phase) rents have increased exponentially since the time those landlords took out those mortgages, and the mortgage rates have stayed the same from 10-20 yrs ago.

        • 32n64w says:

          I think you’re forgetting the improvement costs incurred by the owners of older building in order to stay competitive with newer structures have also increased exponentially over the last 10-20 years – as have the running/maintenance costs.

          Also a building that is 25+ years old simply doesn’t attract the same rental rates as one built in the last 10 years.

  18. bermyshotta says:

    Keep it de way it is. Stop hurtin de little man!

  19. Malachi says:

    I believe Government should revisit the mortgage rates charged by our “local” banks. (HSBC is hardly a local bank). Anyone with a mortgage and has lost a job could surely use the extra disposable income to spend in Bermuda. When I look at the mortgage rates available in the U.S. I’m jealous!
    To someone who knows the answer, is it legal for Bermudians to obtain a mortgage overseas?

    • Rick Rock says:

      A bank will only give a mortgage on a property which it could actually own outright in the event the mortgage defaults.

      An overseas bank is prevented from ownership of Bermuda real estate, therefore will never lend anything secured by Bermuda real estate.

      But anyway, I don’t agree with your idea. If you tell banks they have to charge low mortgage rates, they will just stop lending. That won’t help anything. Even at the rates they currently charge (which you think are excessive) Butterfield has struggled to survive.

      • I dream too says:

        +Even at the rates they currently charge (which you think are excessive) Butterfield has struggled to survive+

        Then they’re going to have to ‘reset their (greedy) dial’ too ..

        Buy a $900,000 piece of property today and end up paying the bank back 2 Mill over 30 years.. Yeah , right … I wasn’t born yesterday.. I’ll do without .

        The days’ of unmitigated greed are OVER ! Everyone is going to have to get by on a lot ,lot less .

        • Rick Rock says:

          Well “do without” then. Banks aren’t not-for-profit charities. If you don’t want a mortgage from a ‘greedy’ bank you can spend money on rent for 30 years. Trying to legislate to make banks reduce interest rates is ridiculous.

          • I dream too says:

            Did I suggest anything about ‘legislation’ ?

            I’m saying that they’re going to have to adjust to the new economic reality that is going to reshape this island for a very long time to come .

            Besides , have you noticed the negligible returns on savings and investments over the last thrree years or so ? Did they lower their mortgage rates in the same way ?

            And it’s not their money they do this with .. it’s ours

  20. import control says:

    is customs or the police going to control what is private import or import by a business
    a small business sells shirts, but the owner needs a new camera
    a contractor needs new windows for his own house

    has anybody given any thought to how to control what is private import and what is private import?

    • Shaking the Head says:

      Hit the nail on the head! Anywhere Governments have tried to interfere with free markets have been disastrous. It is well known that there is a limit to what people will pay before they resort to all the ways round, which are too many for any Government to plug. Locally you only have to look at the abuse of the senior’s licence fee for cars as a classic example. Or on a major scale, why are many IB companies here – to (legally) avoid tax!

  21. star man says:

    The absolute worst thing to do is raise taxes/duties now! Worth repeating.

  22. O.B. says:

    Do these local stores really think they’re the only ones hurting? Everybody is! It would be absurd to hurt the common person more just because you want an advantage. It’s a recession and we’re all in the same boat. Stop trying to tip it in your favour!

  23. Sandman says:

    Here’s what I see will be the main impact of putting all personal import duty at 25%:

    Companies like Mailboxes will re-package their service to be more like the Price-Busters guy / Conspec etc.

    You tell them what to order, they then order it, bring it in for you and sell it to you.

    Taking this one step further, what’s to stop me from setting up such an enterprise on a small scale for my friends and family? I become a small shop who brings stuff in on order for friends, then charge a small commission for the headaches of doing it. Of course, I’d need to find a friend to do the same for when I want to order stuff.

    In the end, the local shops still don’t have any more customers, but the rest of us have a lot more headaches to deal with.

  24. 1minute says:

    I was away recently and bought a product for about $100. I paid my 35% duty, making the total cost about $135. That same product here in Bermuda in the 3 stores I saw it in Cost between $195 – $210. Why would I buy it here. Until the retailer here figure out a way to lower their prices, people won’t stop buying abroad.

  25. Triangle Drifter says:

    There comes a point where consumers revolt & refuse to take it any more.

    Don’t throw all the blame on the retailer though they certainly deserve a big helping of it. Blame the system where the retailer has to finance the duty paid up front for stock that may sit on shelves for a long time.

    Already been suggested but lost in all the noise, pay the duty/sales tax at the point of sale i.e. cash register as is done in so many countrys.

    The only problem with this system, as far as Government is concerned, is that there would be far fewer customs staff needed to process all the paperwork as is done now.

  26. Tommy Chong says:

    “What that might look like has yet to be agreed. Perhaps this is the time to step back and look at the bigger picture and consider whether or not there is a viable alternative to taxation through import duties,” concluded Ms MacPhee.

    It seems that all the decision makers are either landlords or have shares in BELCO because all seem to be skirting around the, “viable alternative” sitting on the tip of their noses. Overhead for rent & electricity is unreasonably high. Because business owners hands are tied when it comes to these overheads their only dealing with the alternatives wages & staff. If the government REALLY cared about keeping BDA business sector alive they would do what Canada’s government did to Ontario Hydro. Split BELCO & its shares into smaller companies. This would allow for competitive rates & the company with the best rates will prevail. Those who believe BELCO needed to up its rates for future servicing & replacement of their oil powered machinery need to open their eyes. Oil powered engines are archaic & there are better & cheaper alternatives. We are living under a farce that we are a democratic colony when the reality is BDA is still a corporate colony as it was in the 17th century. If we stay under BELCO’s & greedy landlord’s dictatorship much longer there will be no way back. These dictators DO NOT CARE because they already have off island houses they can run to when we become Jamaica the sequel but those who can’t afford to run should CARE.

    • LOL (original) says:

      Guess you need to know who sits on the BELCO boards and things will come clear. I suggest people get a meter to record your power usage and compare it with your bill ask belco for a monthly power usage.


    • GMS says:

      So which of the new smaller companies would get to own BELCO’s current generation plant? And, after building their own generation capacity, do you really think the other new and smaller companies would be in any position to compete with lower rates? How many power plants does a 21 sq mile country need?

      Are you, the customer, willing to finance this breakup through higher rates – not lower – until the point where the new plant costs have been amortised? We simply don’t have the critical mass to effect many changes you see overseas. Bermuda is so small that there will be natural monopolies, whether we like it or not.

      • Tommy Chong says:

        I’m sure BTC felt the same as you & this made them happy because they had the monopoly. I don’t think BTC is smiling now.

        There are many companies trying to get a piece of BELCO’s pie at the moment in Bermuda but are finding it hard to get governments support. I think we all know why this is & its who LOL mentioned above.

        When Canada split Ontario Hydro they didn’t move parts of Niagara as this would not be possible they just split ownership & told them to compete. Of course shareholders were miffed & protest but the Canadian Government just replied with the age old you cant have your cake metaphor.

    • too bad says:

      What are the better and cheaper technologies? It’s not wind power because that has been proven to be even more expensive than conventional power. Solar? At 18% efficiency, even worse? Doubtful but it’ll make your conscious feel better. Show it with real numbers… Don’t worry your energy problem will be solved one way or another. Also, you forgot to mention that Canada has the option of buying cheap power from the US and vice versus. We are on our own…

      • star man says:

        Canada sells power to the USA who could not operate without it. Not the reverse.

        • Tommy Chong says:

          About 7 years ago when I lived & worked in Canada there was a Buffalo based company that offered Toronto & some of the other cities in Ontario power. I’m not sure who actually used their company but I didn’t because they had terrible rates. You may be right at present since I can’t imagine this Buffalo company lasted long but thought I’d mention it in all fairness to too bad. Maybe too bad is not up with the times since he’s under the impression that conventional power is more economic than modern sources or not so modern when considering that a turbine is just a fancy windmill.

      • Tommy Chong says:

        Let me get this straight wind turbines that cost roughly 6million each to set up are less cost effective then the BELCO’s estimated 300million upkeep of their plant excluding oil costs. Maybe your right since we’d need about fifty turbines or more but then again wind is FREE oil is NOT so why not compare oil’s inflation rate to the inflation rate of wind. Zero times zero is always zero. The majority of Europe’s nations have done this math & thats why they have turbine farms as far as the eye can see. Wind power is only one alternative we have waves & tidal surges that can also be harness for energy but has not BELCO mentioned this years ago. So what’s taking them so long? Market saturation is what & if you doubt this do some research into a new company on island called BESCO. Hmmmm! BELCO… BESCO… why are the names so similar?

        As for Canada having the option of buying cheap power from the US and vice versa. Whilst I lived in Canada I never bought from the US cause Canadian energy was cheaper & while I lived in Connecticut I was told I would have to move up state more to get my power supply from Canada. Maybe this is why US is treading water in the recession amongst other reasons while Canada is on dry land.

  27. Responsible dog owner says:

    The Chamber of Commerce Retail Division fails to acknowledge, although I am sure they must know, that many of the people shopping on-line are purchasing items that are simply NOT AVAILABLE in Bermuda.

    If the retailers really want people to shop Bermuda, they should look at the specifics of what people are purchasing on-line, not just “clothing” but is it specific sizes?

    Raising the duty will not stop me from purchasing overseas, but it will discourage me from buying in Bermuda.

    • Tommy Chong says:

      This is a good point & needs to be looked at by any employer who has a surplus of deadstock. If this is so they need to look at the buyer they have & if they’re really doing their job. Many buyers in Bermuda get paid to sit on their hands all day. If you are a buyer than you should be doing research, research, & more research. Research does not mean picking the items you fancy or that fit you it means finding out what the consumer wants & needs & getting it for them. If a buyer spends most of their day folding cloths & serving costumers instead of studying consumer & trend reports & graphing a buyers plan along side these reports the employer needs to find a new buyer. Its better to let go a buyer than half the staff besides the fault of lack of sales is theirs.

  28. 32n64w says:

    Rather than imposing higher taxes in an attempt to create more revenue for an already highly inefficient Government that does a horrible job of obtaining reasonable value with taxpayer funds, why not reduce expenditures instead?

    Whatever happened to a PLP Government committed to doing more with less? When an unsustainable 60% of tax revenue goes toward salary costs and interest expense it’s only a matter of time before the house of cards collapses on itself.

    The Government needs to implement new policies to attract foreign capital rather than penalise consumers for thirteen years of PLP incompetence and ineptness. Steadily spiraling around the tax/debt toilet bowl is not a workable solution.

    When will the PLP finally realise this and make the far reaching changes (and policy reversals) necessary to reignite our economic engine? Chipping around the edges and feeding into the xenophobia of their core will not help.

    PLP – please stop putting your personal politics before the taxpayers’ and let’s put Bermuda first for a change.

    • Tommy Chong says:

      Here we go again with the xenophobia propaganda. If the government at present really has a fear of foreigners why would their be a record number of foreigners in all work sectors not only in IB. I agree that PLP used the race card to get elected but since than they’ve supported the opposite. Its only recently that plp has ever mentioned getting rid of the over influx of “unskilled” foreign workers. UBP preached this up & down the isle when in government while the only foreign workers at the time where the Portuguese in construction & landscaping not waiters, retail workers & loads of other unskilled positions that are currently held by foreigners. Yes, those who voted for plp NOT ME! were bamboozled into thinking they had the people’s best interest at heart but they are far from being xenophobic. What I find as being most amusing is the ones who apposed ewart’s Uyghur are usually the same accusing plp of xenophobia.

      • 32n64w says:

        When the Ministry of National Security has a prominently featured “Immigration Hotline” button on their homepage and an online “Department of Immigration Investigation Request” I think its hard to argue against the rampant xenophobia expressed by this Government and their most vocal mouthpieces, both online and over the airwaves.

        The PLP welcome IB with open arms as long as they can simultaneously reach into their back pocket, however, the minute their core supporters start to feel the economic pinch (for which the PLP are ironically the main architect) the first thing they do is go after certain segment of the the foreign worker community accused of taking jobs from Bermudians.

        • Tommy Chong says:

          If Bermuda had a terrorist cell problem then I’m sure they’d predominately feature a terrorist hotline. Because there’s a extremely small chance of terrorist attack this is not featured. On the other hand there are many employers in Bermuda who illegally employ foreigners without permits, foreigners with expired permits who work on till their permit is renewed, foreigners who’s permits have not been approved yet but work no matter & foreigners who’s have been let go their permit is expired & they already supposed to have left the island. Then there are employers who make Bermudians redundant & then turn around & bring a foreigner in for a redundant position. Since this is a predominant threat to the security of nationals jobs it should be predominately featured on Ministry of National Security site. This is a way government protects its people & is practiced in most countries. Foreigners should be thankful that immigration doesn’t do it as extreme as North America & raid places. If the foreigner is legally here why would they need to worry about Department of Immigration Investigation Requests.

          As you mentioned the PLP welcomes IB with open arms but IB is not the certain segment of foreign workers accused of taking jobs from Bermudians. This is because the majority of IB go by the book but many Bermudian employers don’t. PLP is not targeting any nationality when it comes to the over employment of foreign workers which would be xenophobic. Now when UBP stated deporting foreigners a few years before they lost position they were clear who they wanted out THE PORTUGUESE. Then again at the time there were hardly any other foreigners here working menial jobs. Then again I can argue why we need Portuguese masons but I would have zero case on why we need foreign sandwich makers unless there’s some special way I don’t know about to put on the mayo.

        • Tommy Chong says:

          Since bernews has disallowed my last post to you which I Ia no idea why since I’ve seen far worse posted I’ll keep it simple. Here is the Ministry of National Security site link
          Where is the prominently featured Immigration Hotline? Seems prominently invisible.

          Heres BDA immigration’s site

          OHHHHH! THERE IT IS!!! the very last link after application fees, status & naturalization, contact us, land acquisitions & passports & visas. Seems like these other topics are far more prominently important to immigration. Along with all the listed above its immigrations job to catch illegal workers & in my opinion they do a poor job of it.

          • Bernews says:

            Sorry about that, we had a delay…it’s through now

          • 32n64w says:

            “there are many employers in Bermuda who illegally employ foreigners”

            “This is because the majority of IB go by the book but many Bermudian employers don’t”

            Care to back up these (spurious) claims? Do you have any idea how many actual employers there are in Bermuda and what percentage your “many” infractions equates to?

            I don’t disagree there are likely a handful of problematic employers but “many”? I don’t think so.

            Now, how about responding to the majority of my post dealing with revenues & expenditures?

  29. Why Not says:

    “Buy Bermuda” is a joke – why doesn’t the government make it easier for the stores here to compete with online (US) retailers? Lower the import duty for retailers so that they can bring in goods for Bermuda shoppers that are at least in the ballpark compared to US prices. As many above have stated, in nearly all cases you could still go overseas to buy your goods, pay the duty, and still be WAY ahead of the game.

    I know initially it wouldn’t be well received by Gov’t to reduce a revenue stream by lowering the duty rate, but long term I think that as long as the retailers didn’t get too greedy (may be wishful thinking) more people would be convinced that ‘buying Bermuda’ isn’t so bad when there is only a few dollars difference between buying here (instant gratification!) and online / from the US when duty is factored in. (If you have more people buying goods at a cheaper price, is it not as good or better than having only a few buy goods at a more expensive price?)

    At the end of the day, more people buying Bermuda means stimulus for the economy, which is good for everyone. Then maybe, just maybe, you might inspire a glimmer of confidence in this sad, sad excuse for a government.

  30. A says:

    After watching ZBM 9 Let’s Talk, has anyone ever thought of the little retailers who use the couriers or freight companies to bring their products in of personal items because they cannot buy in bulk like the big companies, will suffer if they increase the duty rate across the board either to 25% or 35%.