- The following statement was released by One Bermuda Leader Craig Cannonier – Opposition Leader
The Minister for Cabinet was being disingenuous at his press conference when he announced some good economic indicators – cherry picking which ones to highlight and overlooking some underlying factors.
An increase in air and cruise ship visitors is due to policies implemented by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and a rise in employment income in the construction industry is due to on-going capital projects such as new hotels and the airport, which were started under the OBA.
In addition, while employment income rose overall, that is down to two factors: a rise in the number of people employed by Government, which is being paid for by higher taxes, and a significant rise in fourth quarter income in the IB sector.
The statistics show that people in international business earned a total of $259.9 million, an increase of $23.3 million, compared to the same quarter in 2017. But what the Minister failed to point out was that for the full year, IB employment income fell by $12.8 million, to $1.14 billion. People are losing their jobs or leaving the Island.
Wayne Furbert makes a good soundbite when he mentions the Government’s ‘socio-economic policies’ but does not state what they actually are.The OBA understood that we had to have a twin-track policy of stimulating the economy, with things like the AC and construction projects, while at the same time controlling Government expenditure.
In our reply to the Throne Speech last year we recommended several initiatives to help the economy including proposing that private pension schemes invest a portion of their portfolios locally and that all companies operating in Bermuda participate in the mandatory private pension scheme to mitigate the immediate outflow of capital and drive development of our local capital market.
We also stated that the 60/40 rule should be amended again, so that all Bermuda residents may qualify under the 60% ownership portion, subject to a carefully designed set of criteria.
This will allow more of the wealth already on the Island to be invested into our economy, which again increases the availability of domestic capital. This provides more competition for the banks, which will drive better lending rates for Bermudians.
What is the PLP’s plan to stimulate our economy? I don’t see one.