• The following statement was issued today by Shadow Minister of Finance Nick Kempe

This PLP Government is again raising taxes on Bermudians without sharing sacrifices by curtailing its own spending and has failed in its platform promise to balance the budget by 2019.

Increasing taxes when the economy is performing poorly is never a good idea. However, if the sacrifice were shared by Government, the budget could be balanced this year, more could be spent on infrastructure to combat the effects of global warming or more money put towards paying down our debt in order to reduce the burden on younger Bermudians.

“The pre-Budge report dedicates no fewer than six pages to ways in which it would like to increase the tax burden by another $150m. Small businesses and everyday Bermudians are already suffering under the tax burden and yet there is zero intention in this Pre-Budget Report to curb total Government spending.

The Report mentions an Efficiency Committee report completed in September 2018. The OBA would like to know what savings the report highlights. If savings are to be achieved, why is Government spending not going down in 2019/20? Will that report be released in the spirit of transparency to allow Bermudians to review when participating in this pre-budget process?

The pre-budget report is very light on an economic plan, it states that ‘Government is focused on stimulating the local economy’ – it would be great to know exactly what is being done to justify that statement.

Time and again the Premier has refused to state the number of Fintech jobs being created despite last year confidently predicting that jobs were just around the corner. Has the money from the various Fintech MOUs been included in expected revenues or was that all smoke and mirrors too?

On page 23, the Report states an intention to take forward the work of the Bi-Partisan Committee on Immigration Reform, set-up after the previous bi-partisan Immigration Working Group finished its report in October 2017.

It is starting to feel like a case of death by committee. What are the timelines for completion of this process? Many major economic challenges faced by Bermuda are intricately linked to Immigration so communication and leadership are desperately needed.

If you are as concerned as we are at the number of tax increases and that there is zero commitment from Government to sharing the sacrifice, please let your concerns be known.