• The following statement was released after the Budget Statement delivered in the House of Assembly this morning, by Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier
Virtually everything done in the Budget today targets the local market and will leave Bermudians worse off, according to Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the One Bermuda Alliance.
“The foreign currency purchase tax will be inflationary, putting up prices for Bermudians as almost everything is imported and paid for in foreign currency. This will push up the cost of doing business and will be passed on to the consumer through higher prices in the shops.
“The Sugar Tax will also affect a much wider range of products, although the Finance Minister did not specify which those products are. The simple fact is this: this Budget is going to significantly increase the cost of living for Bermudians.
“Recharging credit card fees is also going to hit Bermudians who pay their government bills with credit cards because they often do not have the money up front. It is an very unfair way of Government trying to claw back some money in a way that will penalize the average Bermudian.
“The retail sector is hurting badly, but Government is only proving payroll tax relief to certain large retailers. What about our small business entrepreneurs who are struggling to survive?
“The Finance Minister said ‘accordingly the Government has decided that now is not the time to extract an additional $50 million from the economy in taxes’ but failed to mention he was increasing taxes by $39m anyway. He said he was listening when he rolled back residential rental tax but in the next breath increased land tax. What is the difference?
“There are some other very noticeable things about this Budget. Raiding the sinking fund is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s like saying “I have a lot of money because I did not pay my bills’. This is Government’s ‘rainy day’ money.
“GDP growth was revised down and there was hardly any mention of fintech which makes me think they are backtracking on that particular, unfulfilled, promise.
“There were no solutions,  no provision for any economic stimulus, they failed to meet their own revenue and spending targets and they are not reducing Government spending, instead making Mr and Mrs Bermuda pay for their failings through increased taxes.
“There has been a total failure by the PLP to execute on any plan for economic recovery. The Government has zero ideas to stimulate the economy in order to create jobs.
“It sounded like a holding budget, trying to maintain the status quo while desperately hoping that something comes to their rescue.”