Video: PLP Press Conference On Economy

August 27, 2020

[Updated] The PLP is holding a press conference this morning [Aug 27]. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 10-minute replay is below

Update 12.40pm: MP Jamahl Simmons remarks:

Good morning,

It took strong leadership to take Bermuda safely through the Coronavirus Pandemic and it took compassionate leadership to insure that our Bermudian people…our friends, our neighbors our family…all the people that make up the bold and diverse tapestry of Bermuda, did not go hungry and were not left behind during perhaps the greatest test our country has ever faced.

As a government, we believed that the financial crisis that sprung forth from Covid 19, could be allowed to not strike down our people and our economy in a manner worse than the virus itself.

Under the strong and compassionate leadership of the PLP Government we put in place Unemployment Insurance so that our workers, displaced through no fault of their own, could have the opportunity to continue to provide for their families.

And as we protected our workers, we knew that we had to protect our entrepreneurs as well.

The PLP Government provided $12M in additional funds to provide support to entrepreneurs through the BEDC, giving them the lifeline needed to survive shelter in place and emerge in a position to continue operating, restructure, or in some cases, even expand. With those funds we’ve Developed the Covid 19 Business Sustainability and Continuity Funding programme providing direct loans and grant funding up to $30,000 each to small businesses and direct loans up t0 $40,000 each to small and medium sized businesses. $8 million of the funding has been transferred to the BEDC thus far.

We increased the BEDC capitalization to $2 million dollars, allowing an increase in $1 Million to use for direct general microloans, as well as debt consolidation and sports clubs microloan and an increase to $12 million for use in issuing loan guarantees for financing with local banks and financial institutions.

We provided collateral up to 75% of a bank loan up to a maximum guarantee of $300K at any of the 3 financial institutions. A 10% increase that is directly attributed to the increase in our capitalisation.

We enabled allowed the BEDC’s Guarantee for the first time, to be applied against lending from the Bermuda Credit Union. $500K has been allocated to the Bermuda Credit in pre-approved guarantees.

We allocated $100k to provide access to external expertise in accounting, legal and marketing services to assist in transitioning these businesses into the “new normal.” Increased our microloan offering up to a maximum of $30,000.00 per business with no security required. These have been direct loans from BEDC without any bank involvement and have enabled businesses to obtain working capital and limited capital purposes with a focus on immediate overhead needs such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, fees. And we decreased our interest rates for EEZ and non-EEZ Businesses.

Under the PLP Government the BEDC also

  • Instituted compassionate changes to our vendor payment terms so that all would be paid on a weekly basis ensuring that they were not forced to wait for payments that could literally mean the difference between the life or death of their business.
  • acted as an intermediary connecting consumers/buyers with sellers as for businesses with underused inventory.
  • Facilitated businesses in forming partnerships, merging and sharing overhead with other businesses to reduce operating costs, both during and through all phases.
  • Gave microloan clients the option to structure/restructure their loans for 3 to 6 months interest-only repayment periods based on need.
  • Gave microloan clients the option to extend their loan repayment terms to up to 42 months, reducing their monthly payment amounts once in the Principle & Interest phase of their loans.
  • Reduced application fees and loan guarantee fees by 50%
  • Eliminated the fee for credit checks
  • Given Entrepreneurs that operate seasonal businesses such as tourism based businesses the option to have recurring interest-only periods for the life of their microloans
  • Given businesses with new microloans the option to delay the first repayment date by 3 months
  • Increased the maximum credit line it will guarantee for its Letter of Credit product for Retailers from $10K to $12.5K for 1 year as a tool to assist with cashflow and allow approved retailers to import goods while being able to defer payment on the duty of those importations. Repayment has been increased from 3 months up to 4 months from each importation date. This allows the retailer to sell the products before paying the duty.

This decisive action has had a real and positive impact on businesses

As of August 24th, 86 companies have received $1,910,113 in funding. Of the total $1.91 million in funding provided to date, $747,303 comprises of grant funding which businesses do not have to repay.

86 small and medium sized businesses that might not have survived Covid 19.

86 small and medium sized businesses that will continue to employ staff, continue to operate and continue to provide services and products to our community

It took strong leadership to take us through Covid 19

It took compassionate leadership to ensure that our Bermudian people were able to provide for their families and for our entrepreneurs to have the support they need to keep their doors open, keep their workers employed and make it through these uncertain and challenging times

Going forward, Bermuda will require strong leadership that not only displays compassion for our people, but also the willingness to take action that will meet the needs of our people.

Senator Crystal Caesar’s remarks:

Good morning,

Bermudian owned small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They provide countless opportunities for the owners themselves as well as the Bermudians they employ.

I’m a patron of a number of Bermudian owned small businesses and I do my best to make sure that I take my business to these companies whenever I can – especially in these hard times post-COVID.

In his statement, MP Simmons did a fantastic job outlining all the numbers. But, behind these numbers are stories and people. When we say that we offer $12 million in grants & loans – which is a massive increase from before – that means hundreds of Bermudian owned businesses getting affordable capital to invest in businesses and create jobs.

We’re a small community, so, I don’t want to call out names. But, I can tell you, we’re working with beauty practitioners, skilled tradespeople, accountants, shopkeepers, online businesses, artists and entertainers and so much more.

We help businesses get through the red tape. And, that’s why I want to make this appeal to Bermudians who are frustrated by the system, or, have a problem with the process and can’t get their idea off the ground. Come to the BEDC. We have people there whose sole job it is to help get your business off the ground with legal, marketing, compliance, accounting and more support. Our job is to see you succeed.

The PLP has kept its promise to give more resources to the BEDC, to eliminate taxes for new businesses, to promote cooperative enterprises, and to reduce red tape for entrepreneurs.

The BEDC is going to play a large role in the COVID economic recovery, and I encourage all Bermudians who have an idea for a business to work with us and together; we will make your dreams come true.

Now, I wanted to close by addressing a video I saw on the internet. I believe in the Former First Lady of The United States Michelle Obama’s mantra that says “when they go low, we go high.” For Ben Smith to sit idly by and allow his colleague to question the Premier’s loyalty to Bermuda and falsely claim that he was not a born Bermudian was very disappointing. That type of politics is not welcome in Bermuda and I am disappointed that MP Smith did not disassociate himself from those false comments. However, in watching the entire video, one realizes that he, himself, actually verbalized that Premier Burt was from Jamaica as well. Both MPs were wholly mistaken.

Leadership matters, and, I can tell you that I love Bermuda and Bermudians with all my heart. So does the Premier, who was, in fact, born right here in Bermuda. Let me be clear, even if the Premier was born elsewhere, it would be ok but the bigger point in all of this is that the OBA is willing to misrepresent and speak falsehoods about our leader and are yet to apologize or retract. Very disappointing. Thank you for your time.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Ringmaster says:

    Someone needs to advise the PLP that they are no longer the government except for emergency measures once the election was called. This is not an emergency and therefore a breach of protocol at the least.

  2. sandgrownan says:

    All of those small businesses the PLP so “compassionately” assisted are all stuffed if there isn’t demand for goods & services. As emphatically demonstrated by the inflation figures and the fact the the Min. of Finance just mortgaged the debt to overseas speculators, the economy is in real trouble. There is no liquidity.

    The fact remains that the economy was in trouble before COVID, anaemic as described by committee that has met 14 times but provided nothing, all the pandemic did was hasten our further demise.

    The failing economy rests squarely on the shoulders of 20 years of PLP status quo. The most recent three years have seen promises broken, opportunities squandered and a desert of ideas.

    The PLP have saddled generations of Bermudians with debt. It’s their fault. No amount of tinkering with red tape will fix that.

  3. toadinthehole says:

    Notice how everything is in the past tense … no plan for the future of bermuda

  4. Cost of living says:

    That isn’t an update on the economy. Tell us why GDP floundered in the second half of 2019 as you claim you created 650 jobs (which the labor surveys available do not support).

  5. Cow Polly says:

    Jamahl – stop looking back and stop taking credit for something you did not do.
    What we want to know is what the premier is going to do to give us some hope that the economy might get better. this is all b/s

    • Now Ya Nice says:

      Jamal is another example of a career politician that needs to go? Butr we all know that he will get pushed from post to post until retirement. PLP and OBA have too many career politicians.

      Three years in charge of the Casino board. meanwhile staff paid, rent paid, trips taken, consultants paid and we have how many casinos open? Has a single license been issued?

  6. red rose says:

    He says the BEDC has helped 86 companies – what about the other 15,000 or so other small businesses? What has the PLP done to help them? Nothing – they have just imposed more and higher taxes.

    • wahoo says:

      You haven’t helped anyone but yourselves. You have saddled us with a crippling debt that we can never dream of paying off. You have done nothing to attract foreign investment so the money that is here will dry up and these small businesses will continue to struggle. Our troubles began years ago under a plp government and you cannot change that. You do not understand the first thing about economics and unfortunately not enough people understand it themselves to make good decisions at the polls.

  7. Joe Bloggs says:

    “As a government, we believed that the financial crisis that sprung forth from Covid 19, could be allowed to not strike down our people and our economy in a manner worse than the virus itself.”

    Dear Premier Burt, no one (apart from those who will always hate you) has any issue with the way you handled the COVID-19 crises. We fared (and continue to fare) far better than our nearest trading partners.

    The economy, on the other hand, is a different issue. The COVID-19 crises has handed you a gift horse. Our economy was going to go downhill in a serious way in late 2021 or 2022. You now have a convenient excuse for what would inevitably happen.

    The issue you keep ignoring (in the same way DREB did) is what is your plan going forward? The PLP lambasted Michael Fahy for wanting to open up immigration. The PLP and its friend closed down Parliament for even wanting to talk about the issue. Fair enough. Freedom of expression no longer exists in Bermuda.

    What is your plan for reviving the economy in Bermuda in (a) the short terms, (b) the medium term, and (c) the long term?