- The following statement was released by Progressive Labour Party MP Michael Scott for release at 7am this morning
As the OBA continues to strive for relevance we see their continued attempts to try and create an issue through which they may be able to divide Bermudians, we are equally concerned regarding the fall in retail sales.
This phenomenon is not unique to Bermuda as global trends show that the traditional brick and mortar retail entities of the past are dwindling in favour of alternate models such as online shopping. In Bermuda, for years Bermudian consumers have complained about pricing, customer service levels and the range or variety of products or garments available on the island. We all know there are malls on the east coast that have come to know Bermudians and their buying power exceptionally well. With the advent of online shopping as a viable option, it is clear that this global trend will continue to factor into local retail sales
A factor that is further driving the decline of retail spending is the impact that greed in the form of annually increasing health insurance costs and increasing interests rates on mortgages are having on Bermudian buying power. For those reasons, the PLP has championed the introduction of a living wage, the creation of less expensive mortgage options and tackling the cost of health insurance. All items that the OBA has opposed and all items that would put more money in Bermudians’ pockets and which would, by extension contribute to increased spending on our economy.
Economic Trends for 2018 Domestic Demand and Personal Consumption and the Retail Sector were highlighted in the 2018 National Economic Report (NER) published in February of this year. The Report had this to say ;
“Employment income supports consumption and is estimated to have decreased by 0.6 percent for the first three quarters of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017″ The Americas Cup year we remember.
This information was shared with the country only last month during the Budget Statement, and it bears repeating in light of the intellectually bankrupt and cynical series of assertions assigning as the causes of the retail sectors lackluster performance by the OBA’s Mr Kempe.
The year over year level of employment income again according to the, 2018 National Economic Report of Bermuda declined by 1.6 percent during the first quarter and 1.4 percent during the second quarter but increased by 1.4 in the third quarter of 2018.
Today in 2019 we report that employment income remains up and GDP for the 4th quarter is up, and there are more jobs in Bermuda than when the PLP took over, a modest gain, but it displays that the OBA’s narrative of “lack of confidence” simply defies belief and the numbers.
Furthermore the only answer the OBA has given to address the retail sector’s woes are for a return to the OBA/Michael Fahy approach of opening the immigration floodgates and pushing unemployed and underemployed Bermudians to the sidelines in our own country.
It is clear that we need more Bermudians working, more Bermudians making more money and more Bermudians spending in our economy. The PLP has offered solutions, including diversifying the economy, and importantly putting more money in Bermudians pockets following the work of the living wage Commission and addressing the greed that is driving up mortgage rates, health insurance rates and the cost of essentials. The OBA, the “great defenders” of the status quo and the elite and privileged have opposed every single initiative while continuing to push their agenda to open the immigration floodgates.
We further encourage the retail sector and wholesalers to listen to what Bermudians are saying in reference to pricing, and mark ups, quality of customer service, better inventory management and the variety of products available. While the retail sector is facing a global trend that poses a threat to their current approach and existing and new entrants will become and must become more responsive, innovative and willing to adapt the way that some businesses are, they will prosper and be well positioned to benefit when more Bermudians are employed, have more money in their pocket are benefitting from lower mortgages and enjoying lower healthcare costs