• Hard on heels of the Business Confidence Survey results released today (July 3, 2019), Shadow Minister of Finance, Senator Nick Kempe issued the following statement…

Bermudian businesses have sent a clear message to Government that it needs to lower the cost of doing business and urgently introduce immigration reform, according to Nick Kempe, the Shadow Finance Minister.

Almost 200 business leaders responded to the survey which included responses from small Bermudian firms to large international businesses.

Noticeably the issue of tax did not figure at all in the 2014 and 2015 survey, in 2016 17 percent agreed it was the top issue facing Bermuda business, in 2018 it was 33 percent and now 43 percent see it as the biggest issue.

This is not surprising given that we have seen increased taxes to support an ever-growing Government structure. Government must reduce its own costs to stop the tax burden rising further.

The survey also clearly spoke to the need for Government to reform immigration, to work and collaborate more with the business community and to reduce taxes and the cost of doing business.

Both the Finance Minister and the Minister for immigration attended the presentation of this survey and I hope they both listened intently to what Bermudian businesses, who employ countless Bermudians, are saying.

The OBA was vilified when it spoke to immigration reform and Pathways to Status. This was and remains an urgent issue.

The report also noted that “anxiety about the economy is now heightened among business leaders, and a trickle-down effect of the private sector’s economic concerns is evident among residents” with consumer confidence at its lowest for five years.

This is reflected in the 13 consecutive months of decline in the volume of retail sales.

The OBA emphasised reducing the cost of Government as well as controlling healthcare provider costs, however the PLP immediately reversed direction when elected and people are now having to pay dearly to support that lack of discipline by way of increased taxation.

It was very revealing that businesses perceived that “steps could be taken towards increased engagement with the Government, better promotion of Bermuda as a business destination, increased support of small/local businesses, and increased employment opportunities for Bermudians.

Clearly, despite the vastly increased communications budget, Government is doing a lot of talking but not a lot of listening.

This Government continually talks about transformational change, but in reality, all Bermudians are getting is a worsening of the status quo.