OBA & PLP On Government’s Economic Policies

September 23, 2019 | 44 Comments

“When will this Government recognize that its economic policies are not working and are only succeeding in adding significant extra pressures on businesses,” Shadow Finance Minister Nick Kempe said, while PLP MP Chris Famous said it is unfortunate that the OBA is using “the shrinking of a Bermudian business in a vain effort to score cheap political points and push their anti-Bermudian,’open up the immigration floodgates’ agenda.”

Shadow Finance Minister Nick Kempe statement:

Senator Kempe said, ““When will this Government recognize that its economic policies are not working and are only succeeding in adding significant extra pressures on businesses? Frank Arnold’s statement saying that increased operating costs were a factor in his decision to close some stores is yet another warning to Government that they need to change course.

“The Government has pursued a one track economic policy of fintech which has yet to have any impact on the economy and while our GDP remains positive, driven by projects such as the St. Regis hotel, the airport and the new Belco plant, the underlying statistics paint a very different picture for local businesses that employ Bermudians year in year out.

“Retail sales volumes have plummeted and the reinsurance sector has continued to shed jobs. At the same time, the Government has increased the cost of doing business – increased land tax, the new local company dividend tax, increased foreign currency purchase tax and the transfer of more cost to private health insurance have all negatively hit businesses.

“Add in lack of immigration reform to encourage people to come to Bermuda and we see a very different and disturbing picture that is not being addressed by this Government.

“The One Bermuda Alliance understood – and still understands – the need to pursue a multi-track economic policy and we provided an economic stimulus while controlling Government costs, but Burtonomics appears to be exactly the opposite.

“In the long-term fintech may produce some jobs but how long can people wait? They are suffering now.

“Mr Burt has to take his blinkers off and show not only that he understands that his policies are not working but that he cares about the suffering imposed on Bermudians and changes course.”

PLP MP MP Chris Famous’ Response statement:

Mr Famous said, “It is unfortunate that the One Bermuda Alliance is celebrating the shrinking of a Bermudian business in a vain effort to score cheap political points and push their anti-Bermudian,’open up the immigration floodgates’ agenda.”

Mr Famous said,”There has been no increase in payroll tax under the PLP. In fact, the most recent increase in payroll tax occurred under the OBA.

“In fact the PLP Government has:

  • Slashed Payroll Tax for Bermudians earning less than $96,000 a year.
  • Granted Payroll Tax Concessions for new small businesses, entrepreneurs and taxi operators.
  • Granted payroll tax relief for all employers with a payroll exceeding $1,000,000 until March 2021 for employers who increase their total number of full-time staff.
  • Granted payroll tax relief to specific businesses by providing a concessionary employer payroll tax rate of 7.0% for all retailers whose payroll is above $500,000 and whose primary sales are in fashion, shoes, jewellery and perfume.
  • Granted concessions to all businesses that hire local musicians and entertainers by removing the employer and employee payroll tax for the next three years.

“All of the above was done to relieve businesses of some of the economic challenges facing them in this economy.

“During their term in office, the OBA fought desperately to open the immigration floodgates as a solution to our economic woes, and despite that approach leading to protests and their complete and utter rejection at the polls, they continue to push an agenda that Bermudians reject and that Bermudians know will see our people further marginalized in our own country. We reject the OBA’s ‘open the floodgates’ approach to immigration.

“The facts are that any investor who wishes to come to Bermuda to start a company, under our current laws, can stay in Bermuda, apply to become a permanent resident, pass that PRC status to their spouse and children, and buy property here in Bermuda. What is the OBA demanding that isn’t already in place and more importantly, if we were to drop thousands of non-Bermudians on Front Street, where would they work?

“We recognize that the OBA is striving to remain relevant. We recognize that the OBA will say anything and do anything to seize back power and to open the immigration floodgates. Despite this, we remain committed to Immigration Reform that is fair, takes into account our unique history, our small size and that at its core protects Bermudian jobs and opportunities.

“It is unfortunate that the Arnold’s group has found the need to close three of their stores,” he said, adding that “for the OBA to jump on this for political gain, is also unfortunate.”

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  1. Just curious says:

    Casting all the political rhetoric aside for the moment, all Bermudians should be asking our current government “what type of Bermuda do you want to see in the future?” This I am now convinced is a valid and reasonable question to ask. Why doesn’t everyone just try to establish an honest answer, it may just open up an honest picture of the future.

  2. Mr. Apathy says:

    The fact that the PLP chose or opted for Famous to write a response about economic policy should incite laughter rather than to be taken seriously.

    It indicates that either nobody within the PLP leadership has a meaningful rebuttal to the criticism being rightly laid at their doorstep or that they anticipated Famous would write his usual attack the messengers rather than the message nonsense, topped off with some anti-foreigner sentiment to distract from the real issues at hand.

    Are you sick of it yet, Bermuda?!

  3. Toadinthehole says:

    Erm, where does the oba mention payroll tax? Yet another attempt at deflection from the plp and clearly the policies outlined by famous are not working

  4. DeOnion says:

    Lol, jumping on this for political gain … wow the sheer hypocrisy of this statement

  5. Red rose says:

    Wow, all those concessions and retail is still in the s%!t.

  6. Anbu says:

    Aye Famous, werent u saying last week or so that we need the foreigners here? Immigration an all that? Which is it? Or do u only want other islanders here? Answer nicks questions dammit. Do some actual work for once. U ever get tired of burt and browns hand?

  7. DeOnion says:

    Famous’ position is laughable. Look at the facts – lowest ever recorded business confidence, consumer confidence at a five year low, fintech – anyone?, land tax up, local company dividend tax, private health care costs up etc etc but it is all ok as the plp has given some concessions but only to the big players.
    Please this is too stupid from famous aka our minister of propaganda

  8. ROBERT STEWART says:

    Retail is in trouble all over the world. JC Penney in USA, Debenhams in UK and who knows where else. Bermuda is suffering from the same problems, accentuated by foolish Govt taxes.

    This is the dumbest government Bermuda has ever had, and each day the morning news confirms this depressing fact.

    • Sc says:

      Funny thing is that people who say retail is strugling are wrong…. americas retail sector is booming… look it up. Shares in Target and Walmart are soaring

  9. Question says:

    Not one of the things listed by Famous have anything to do with the store closures this week. Does he have any idea what he is talking about? The PLP is driving up costs, and Famous wants to add to the problems faced by businesses by minimum wages and increased taxes. The PLP is shrinking the economy and throwing Bermudians out of work.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      Chris is carrying the water for his party? What about that do you find objectionable?

  10. Allan says:

    I appreciate the insight Mr. Kempe provides. It is common sense, and I do not feel the OBA is trying to undermine the Country for gain; such as what was so blatant with how the PLP operated to get into power.

    I still do not understand the definition of treason, at least when it relates to Bermuda; but I guess hypocrisy is understood by everyone.

    A good example of absurd is 2.75 billion debt! All interesting words, and not at the fault of any messenger.

  11. Portia says:

    No one cares about your drivel, Nick. There is a reason why your party was beaten so badly…and why you’re never getting back in.

    • Question says:

      do you ever address the point, or is attacking the messenger the only thing you can do? What are you, ten years old?

      The Sugar Tax was designed to make food more expensive. The PLP own it, and they own the consequences.
      Plus they increased cost of healthcare, land tax, currency exchange (which affects all imports), etc. None of you care about what these things are doing to the economy,

      WTF is happening with Arbitrade? Who paid for Victoria Hall? If it’s all such a big Burt success, why the silence?

      • Double S says:

        No they don’t. The truthful answers don’t fit the narrative so they post inane comments like the one above. All they have in the end really and unfortunately.

        It was this blind sheep attitude that allowed the PLP to destroy Bermuda’s economy and finances the first time around.

        History is simply repeating itself.

    • Sandgrownan says:

      Bermudians voted against their self interest? They look pretty stupid right now don’t they.

    • EndIt says:

      Lol, you do realize PLP are getting smashed next election unless they do something of value and get off the campaign track.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        If that were to be true can you imagine the election campaign based on hateful rhetoric and totally false propaganda ? And we thought it was bad in 1998 and 2017 .. just wait for it.
        ‘By any means necessary’ . Never forget it.

      • Transparency not = OBA says:

        You sound just as stupid as the UBP by changing the name = oba to escape it’s racist past.

  12. 2bermudaz says:

    Famous outlines the plp policies – yet despite them stores are STILL closing! Yup – failed policies

  13. PANGAEA says:

    MONOPOLY ANY ONE

    The new Game in Town.

    You can invite two Bermudians in a room with two other prudent men of business, seat them all around a game of Monopoly and role the dice !

    Who do you think will take all ?
    Who has the most money?
    Who knows the value of money ?
    Who understands Debt ?
    Who knows when to buy and when to sell ?
    Who knows that debt add to the cost of every thing?
    What is it about credit they don’t understand?
    Who knows that the item will wear out before it is paid for?
    Who buys things we do not need?
    Who lives for today and not for tomorrow?
    Who knows that Interest payments raise the cost of the item?
    On the board of Monopoly there are no taxes, just fines. I wonder why ?
    Taxes pay for other peoples free stuff.
    And
    Who lives one day at a time? My cat !

    I have sad news for you all ! There is nobody this time to save our bacon.

    By the way this island home of ours need a hurricane clean up real fast.
    We need ever able body person to help clean house.

    Pangaea.

  14. BaileysBay says:

    Very good point Toadinthehole, there was no mention of payroll taxes by Mr Kempe yet Mr Famous chose the trumpian route of misdirection and projection rather than honest debate.
    Heres a a suggestion for the political class, whether they be plp or oba or independent.
    Sort out the Dept of Planning. There are people (myself included) who do want to build or add on to a house here in Bermuda. There is no quicker way to transfer wealth from one group of Bermudians to another group of Bermudianas than to encourage construction, any construction at all. Yet my experience was it takes 9 months from initial application to building permit, and that ONLY because we were politely aggressive in pursuing the Planning Dept people who were handling our application. In the absence of our personal involvement I very much doubt that it would have been completed in under a year. Had it in fact gone to a year we would have walked away from the project, as a not inconsiderable number of just our architects clients have done already. Multiply that by the number of architects working and you quickly get to not millions of dollars unspent, not tens of millions of dollars unspent but something approaching hundreds of millions unspent, just because a Government Department is unable or unwilling to get out of its own way.
    In fairness, it’s not completely a PLP issue, it wasn’t much better under the OBA. However, the PLP own this economy now so it’s at their feet (comes with the victory). Here’s the thing, the PLP has the political capital to burn as a result of their landslide, let’s see if they have the cojones to take hard decisions rather than photo ops. Let’s see if the political class really cares about the rest of us, or is it just about riding around in big blue cars lording it over the rest of us?

    • Victoriana says:

      Hear, hear. The Department of Planning is not the primary focus of this story, but your points are valid. And if you get people started on telling Planning horror stories, the comments list would go on for days. The new EnerGov is a small step in the right direction, in that it acknowledges deficiencies, but sadly it is useless for knowing where an application actually sits in the department. It says that an application is “19% complete.” WTH does that actually mean? The site does not clearly explain what actual steps have been completed and what steps remain. I long for someone to develop an online tool that gives real-time data about the process. Sigh.

  15. Safety First says:

    Chris…love you and appreciate you as one of the few politicians that care about the community he lives in and not about the dollar. But even you must recognize that we are in trouble and Mr. Kempe is only telling the truth? The OBA couldn’t open their mouth without their being a protest, a statement from the “peoples champagne, a march or a strike. And it was all political. you cant deny that.

    Chris the PLP had all the answers and were very critical about the OBA. Its been 2 years and what has the PLP done to improve things?

    So payroll tax hasn’t gone up, but the PLPs policies have increased the cost of doing business here – big time. But the PLP did it by nickle and dimeing with the hopes that nobody would notice.

    Dividends are now taxable just like payroll tax So if a business owner is fortunate enough to actually make a profit – the PLP now taxes it as part of payroll. If a business owner purchases product from overseas (and they all do) the foreign currency purchase tax was increased as well. They are charged more for everything including annual corporate registration fees, TCD licensing fees, Tynes Bay dumping, Terminal Handling Fee, and more. The point is – it all adds up my friend.If a business owner cant make money, why take the risk? They might as well buy stock in Amazon. The PLP has done NOTHING to create an even playing field against the Amazons of the world. amazon is great – I use them (only when necessary) but what have they done for Bermuda?

    I would be somewhat optimistic if I saw a plan – a real plan on the horizon. How will the PLP stimulate the economy? The cryptocurrency savior plan has not done what Premier Burt hoped. And I would be okay with that if he acknowledged it and moved on. But there does not seem to be a plan B. The OBA handed over the Casino act. By now we should have two or three Casinos in place. Would that save ius ? No. But if it created 50 jobs is that not better? Instead Jamal fired the head of the gaming commission and we are left with what exactly? The gaming commission has paid rent, wages evry month for two years and what have you accomplished with it?

    Chis – give us hope – not a press release..

  16. Kevin says:

    This government is clueless burtenomics is a pipe dream with no hope …25-11 you have created such a hole and its simple you don’t know what you don’t know and it goes for the politicians and the their supporters….soon you will all wish you lost the 2016 election

  17. GTW says:

    The Sugar Tax is doing more harm to Bermuda then anticipated, they need to get rid of it or the small moms and pops shops will die out next! Trust me! OBA please do something, although I voted PLP, they flopped on that decision.

  18. help says:

    the oba is the best more jobs and better for bermuda we are gonna suffer under plp. the oba got the money and the ideas for bermuda so plp should step down before the crime rate increases hurting all families

  19. plp should step down the oba had ideas for the better off this country and they have the money. under the plp we gonna suffer and more crime so pls people lets look into our self and vote oba. for those 4 yrs they had bermuda booming ie america cup morgans point etc many bermudians had jobs left right center. now plp many companies closing down people loosing jobs

  20. Me says:

    This is all playing out badly like their last term ,governing is not just about spending and handing out tax payer monies

    • plp need to step down or else bermuda in trouble oba just needed more time to make things better. so plp dont need to run this country no more cause they cannot manage this economy never. we need to attract the rich people here with projects like morgans point etc. the we can have the money to do other things instead of using the poor peoples last penni to do it like plp is doing then raise taxes to pay it and we still have the airport to pay back so all hell gonna break loose. its no money generating in this country. at least oba had americas cup morgans point etc and hotels resturants etc was making money. no companies are closing down cause bermuda is falling apart as its up dopey

  21. Truth is killin’ me... says:

    The people know the truth and the country is losing $GREEN$ by the day!

  22. puma says:

    All good intent aside a mistake is …just that…a mistake.buyiny new buses and new trash truck s is an expense we must burden but gone are the days we take care of the things we presently have.
    Plp…you spend more than we earn…
    ∆. ∆

  23. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Mr Famous said,”There has been no increase in payroll tax under the PLP. In fact, the most recent increase in payroll tax occurred under the OBA.”

    Well, now that is simply NOT TRUE. The Payroll Tax (No. 2) Amendment Act 2017 [http://www.bermudalaws.bm/laws/Annual%20Laws/2017/Acts/Payroll%20Tax%20Amendment%20(No.%202)%20Act%202017.pdf] was signed into law on 6 October 2017. The election (the 24/12 election) took place on 18 July 2017. The Payroll Tax (No. 2) Amendment Act 2017 had the effect of broadening the tax base, i.e. increasing payroll tax payable by businesses.

    The Payroll Tax (No. 2) Amendment Act 2018 [http://www.bermudalaws.bm/laws/Annual%20Laws/2018/Acts/Payroll%20Tax%20Amendment%20(No.%202)%20Act%202018.pdf] introduced income tax (tax on dividends), thereby adding to the cost of doing business in Bermuda.

    Interestingly, both the Payroll Tax Amendment Act 2017 and the Payroll Tax Amendment Act 2018 appear to have been removed from Bermuda laws [http://www.bermudalaws.bm] for some reason. At least, they do not appear when I search for them. I cannot comment on the effect of those amendments.

  24. plp gonna brings us to our knees many companies closing down and we are suffering. at least the oba had jobs flowing for those 4 yrs. but under plp money going down de drain and its us dopey bermudians that dont see that we must be some a de stupidest people alive to not see de plp bringing this country down lord help us all

  25. oba had the best ideas this country ever seen they was tryna attract the rich here to create more jobs etc. plp just gonna raise tax and waste money. companies are closing down burts got de wrong ideas smdfh and we dont see us sinkingg in a big hole we must be dopey

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