• The following statement was released by One Bermuda Alliance Senator Nick Kempe, Shadow Minister of Finance…

Last week we heard from Minister Zane DeSilva that 200 Bermudians had lost their jobs in the retail sector. Now we hear that retail sales volume has again plunged when compared to August 2018’s already low numbers.

August 2018 had dropped against August 2017 (which was a post America’s Cup month and therefore no longer carried a stimulus uplift from the successful event). Even online shopping via post office and courier again fell.

Retail sales volume has now dropped for 16 out of the last 18 months.

As I laid out in an opinion piece last month, inflation is low as businesses are struggling to pass on all the new taxes and healthcare costs due to the plummeting spending numbers. It is no wonder that stores are closing, and people are losing jobs.

Yet again I ask: where is the plan to fix this?

Fintech jobs have nowhere near replaced jobs lost in other sectors and major construction projects will soon be coming to an end with nothing on the horizon to replace them.

Meanwhile Government is unable to complete even piecemeal immigration reform, let alone comprehensive reform, and people are leaving the Island – with those that remain suffering from less disposable income for consumption caused by new taxes and tax increases.

The brunt of tax grab to fund this Government’s spendthrift ways are being borne by the working class and businesses alike. Pay attention as the new Basic Health Plan seeks to shift another large block of Government expense onto those two demographics.

The solutions we’ve been advocating for haven’t changed.

We need to reduce the burden of Government and corresponding taxation levels required to sustain it. We cannot continue to shift Government expense onto workers and businesses and raise taxes at the same time.

All the while, the size of Government increases, and little is put towards the debt. We must reform immigration – not to open the floodgates to foreigners as opponents to reform ridiculously claim but to retain the existing guest workforce and to attract new wealth creators.

Piecemeal changes in payroll tax for large retail stores is clearly not helping and the Mom and Pop corner stores are suffering and closing. Our Premier is fast resembling Nero as he played his fiddle while watching Rome burn.

Burtonomics is not working. We need a change. Now.