We are eight months into the One Bermuda Alliance Administration and “they have yet to implement or even articulate a clear plan out of this economic downturn,” Opposition Leader Marc Bean said today [Aug 21].
Mr Bean was speaking after the Ministry of Finance released information earlier this week about the fiscal performance to date; covering revenue, expenditure and the debt.
The Opposition Leader said, “Bermudians are losing jobs every day, and we have yet to hear how Minister Richards and the Cannonier Administration intend to fix things. Casting the blame on the PLP is not going to fix our economic woes.
“In addition to steps aimed at reducing government expenditure, the OBA needs to swiftly identify other sources of revenue for the government so that our financial status is not in jeopardy.”
Mr Bean said the PLP is on record as identifying other potential revenue streams and they “call on the OBA government to implement them to encourage investment, job creation, and consequently additional revenue for Government.”
The suggestions from the Oppositon include: moving immediately on a referendum for gaming; developing our Exclusive Economic Zone for sea-bed mining, aquaculture, and offshore fishing; implementing the Incentives for Job Makers Act; leveraging our Telecommunications reform and IB infrastructure to introduce global online gaming legislation and more.
Mr Bean’s full statement follows below:
The statement released by Minister Richards on the state of the economy was sobering, but not unexpected. Everyone realizes that our economy is in a fragile state. It will require more than election promises to turn these trends around.
What is also worrisome is that prior to Dec 17, 2012, Minister Bob Richards made many statements that the OBA knew exactly what it would take to turn these trends around. All was blamed on the PLP government. We are 8 months into the OBA Administration and they have yet to implement or even articulate a clear plan out of this economic downturn.
With debt increasing, and less jobs in the economy, we are in a crisis. Bermudians are losing jobs every day, and we have yet to hear how Minister Richards and the Cannonier Administration intend to fix things. Casting the blame on the PLP is not going to fix our economic woes. In addition to steps aimed at reducing government expenditure, the OBA needs to swiftly identify other sources of revenue for the government so that our financial status is not in jeopardy.
We, the PLP, are on record as identifying other potential revenue streams and call on the OBA government to implement them to encourage investment, job creation, and consequently additional revenue for Government.
We propose to the OBA that they -
- Implement the recently developed Infrastructure Strategy, to identify much needed improvements or repairs to our infrastructure, that will not only enhance our overall quality of life, but create business opportunities for construction companies and jobs for Bermudian construction workers
- Move immediately on a referendum for gaming, allowing our people to have their say and to eliminate investor uncertainty in our tourism industry
- Develop our Exclusive Economic Zone for Sea-Bed mining (a billion dollar a year industry), Aquaculture, and Off-Shore Fishing, to create new jobs, diversify our economy, and create new revenue streams
- Implement The Incentives for Job Makers Act, creating a clear and direct set of benefits for new businesses to establish in Bermuda, bringing with them new jobs and new opportunities
- Designate a segment of BLDC land as an “Economic FREE Zone.” Targeting global businesses such as high value physical commodity trading and satellite operations, with incentives such as payroll and other tax exemptions
- Leverage our Telecommunications reform and IB infrastructure to introduce global online gaming legislation, online gaming being a 35 billion per year industry
We also note that this is an opportune time for the OBA government to commission a review of Bermuda’s tax structure and our existing tax rates, with a view towards long term growth. In this regard, and in spite of declining revenues, I encourage the Minister of Finance to consider a reduction in customs duties, and payroll taxes for both the employer and the employee.
While this will reduce Government revenues over the short term, it would benefit the business community by reducing cost, and likewise, it will benefit the people of Bermuda who are struggling day to day with mortgages, rents, and every day living expenses.
More importantly, it will allow for the accumulation of savings and spur investments by individuals and business, thus being a catalyst for new economic growth. This new growth in our economy at these lower tax/duty rates will ensure higher government revenues over the mid and long term as a result of an expanded tax base.
We have noticed that the OBA has spared no effort to offer concessions and tax relief to corporations and big business, a policy which the PLP has and continues to support, but they have done very little to assist Mr & Mrs Bermuda in their every day challenges. Our policy suggestion will reduce the cost of living for the people of Bermuda, and also leave more money in their pockets for purposes that they themselves are best positioned to determine.
Our Shadow Finance Minister, David Burt, understands the need for urgency in this matter, and offers his assistance to Minister Richards in the spirit of bipartisanship and in realization that Bermuda comes before any specific political party.