Column: ‘Recovery Is Obviously Underway’

October 20, 2016

[Opinion column written by OBA Senator Lynne Woolridge]

The fact that we dodged the fury of Nicole last week isn’t the only reason I have a smile on my face today.

I want to remind you that we have had three very, very encouraging pieces of news about progress in the One Bermuda Alliance Government’s fight to get the country back on an even economic keel, and to help Bermudians recover from the effects of the mismanagement of the economy.

We’ve said many times that this is a long-term fight, not one that can be expected to finish this year, or next, or even in this decade.

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But we have made progress. We are a long way from where we started, and we are enormously proud of the progress we have made.

Our critics say we haven’t made enough progress for the length of time we’ve been at it. But that’s a barren argument these days. We can see positive signs with our eyes, and they’re everywhere.

There are more people here. If you’ve been in Hamilton lately, you’ll have seen that it’s getting crowded again. Tourists riding bikes are again a familiar sight.

There are the sounds and sights of construction projects going on at sites from one end of the Island to the other. Containers of goods are coming off the waterfront at a renewed clip. The Help Wanted ads are once again brimming with opportunity.

The recovery is obviously underway, and anyone who would argue with that needs to reflect on the information contained in our Statistical Department’s recently-published report on Bermuda’s economy in 2015.

The department says our economy grew in 2015 for the first time since 2008.

It wasn’t just growth in one sector of the economy that was dragging the rest with it. It was broadly-based, with 13 of 15 industries in the black, led by international business and our retail sector. Real estate was up, wholesale and retail trades were up, hotels and restaurants were up. Construction was up.

I was intrigued to see also that the public administration sector’s contribution to GDP – that is, the civil service’s contribution –fell 1.2 per cent. The Statistical Department says this is as a result of the Government’s efforts to reduce wages, salaries and employee overheads.

Now, that growth in GDP was recorded in 2015. Here’s the question of the week! Is it continuing in 2016? We won’t know for sure until next year, when Statistics publishes its next set of figures, but here are two pretty big clues.

The Retail Sales Index has risen in every month of this year except May, when it fell slightly. Figures were announced a few days ago for July, when they were reported by Statistics to have gone up by 1 percent.

Building materials stores registered the largest rise in sales receipts of 15 per cent, this was due to greater demand for supplies to support ongoing projects. Adjusted for inflation, the sales volume was up 11.6 per cent.

Five of the seven sectors experienced revenue increases, according to the July Retail Sales Index publication.

And Tourism! We had a 7.9% increase in arrivals in August. While the bulk of the increase was in cruise ship visitors, there were also solid increases in vacation air travel and business air travel.

Hotel occupancy improved, with 76.9 per cent occupancy in August compared to 71 and 67.3 per cent in August 2015 and 2014 respectively.

I’m not trying to say we’re all of us out of the woods, and I know for a fact we’re all experiencing the recovery differently. But apart from giving thanks for having survived Nicole, we have other reasons today to celebrate, and it’s reasonable to suspect that there’s more to come!

- Lynne Woolridge

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Comments (10)

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  1. Jeremy Deacon says:

    I would not argue that there is a recovery – however it has yet to reach everyone and I think the OBA should acknowledge that in more fulsome ways than a throwaway last paragraph. When I interviewed people at Age Concern and The Family Centre for Bernews’ podcasts it is very clear that a large percentage of the community is yet to feel the effects of the end of the recession.
    My personal hands-on experiences are limited to those interviews recently but I do not ignore what i read, see and hear, as, for instance, the seemingly ever growing reliance on social assistance.
    Whilst an economic recovery is extremely welcome – make no mistake – it has to be deep, it cannot be ‘trickle down’ and it needs a concerted social and economic effort on behalf of Govt to ensure those that are most in need also benefit.

    • wondering says:

      well said Jeremy but it goes a bit further than that:

      the Senator has the gall to opine that recovery is obviously underway. it is proof apparent that the governing party is out of touch with the realities of the citizens of this country.

      ….and to refer to the government’s efforts to get the country back on track as a “fight” is misleading because the previous governments all did what was mandated for them to do and that “fight” is actually their job!!

      what our problem has and will continue to be is that politics is never and has never been an honest man’s endeavor nor has it been one that benefits the entire populace in noticeable methods WITHOUT resulting in catastrophe or even worse (murder) of those whose efforts resulted in a temporary utopia of socio-economic conditions……look at world history – the proof is in the pudding!

      sad but true and this trickle down won’t affect the needy in the way that the “recovery” is being portrayed.

      you get more affirmation with the truth than with misleading opines.

      • hmmm says:

        Keyword: “underway”…it does not mean complete.

        • wondering says:

          yes and with the refinancing ralk from good old bob = no real economy recovery

    • serengeti says:

      It’s up in retail, building & construction, tourism, restaurants, and wholesale. For the first time in years things are improving in parts of the economy (other than IB) where ordinary people benefit.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Jeremy. This is VERY true and I appreciate that you do not hide behind a pen name.

  2. Girl Please.. says:

    Where are the 2000 jobs!!!! Thank you. Mr. Deacon.

  3. hISTORY says:

    30% to 40% Youth Unemployment

    Most of my friends still unemployed after two years of trying
    Me too

    despite applying to AC, morgans point, major construction sites, hotels

    This lady is out of touch – as normal

    she probably is referring to her friends and family circumstances

    • serengeti says:

      Your numbers are nonsense, of course.

      • Jeremy Deacon says:

        the numbers are higher than the actual, but youth unemployment was as high as 30 percent – it has come down to about 20/25 percent. Those numbers are not nonsense and equate to a lost generation