PLP does have a recovery plan
In an opinion piece published on Tuesday in this newspaper, the OBA asserted, under the authorship of candidate Leah Scott, that “the Government has not told the people of Bermuda what it is doing to address Bermuda’s most vexing challenges”. This of course is untrue and the OBA knows this. The PLP government has developed plans for virtually all of these ‘vexing challenges’ and many are well underway. Today I will address Government’s actions to strengthen the economy.
As an aside though, the OBA is wrong to state that in planning to tell the voters they will reveal their plans only after the election is called, they are acting “just like every political party does”. Actually, most political parties in most democracies tell voters what they intend to do as early as possible to build the widest possible base of support. I am not sure what message the OBA is intending to convey by giving voters a maximum of 35 days to digest their plans for governance.
With respect to the economy and jobs, one of the signature policies is the development of Economic Empowerment Zones to stimulate the creation of new businesses and therefore new jobs. Starting in North Hamilton and now extending to the eastern and western ends of the island, these EEZs have proven a strong stimulus for business through a variety of tax concessions and other support.
The retail sector sought and received tax concessions to help them weather the storm and protect jobs; hotel and restaurants enjoy duty relief on renovations and other infrastructure improvements to lend support to this vital sector; and high income earners benefit from a cap on payroll tax payments, giving them an effective tax break.
On the business development front, Minister Wayne Furbert and his technical team are working to bring private sector investment to Bermuda; this is based on an approach that is designed to ensure both Bermuda and the potential investor can see clear benefits. Alongside this Government undertaking, there is the pivotal role played by Business Bermuda, a private sector lobby group for Bermuda globally. The current work of this organisation simply would not be possible without the significant grant by the Bermuda Government; and it is work that runs in tandem with Government’s investment agenda.
Another critical part of Government’s expansive economic recovery plan is to ensure Bermudians get the necessary qualifications to secure jobs as they become available. In this regard, Government has provided training to a few hundred Bermudians in hospitality to give them basic skills to gain entry level positions; covered the training costs for 13 men to qualify as drywall installers; and has embarked on an impressive campaign, with Bermuda College, to fund Bermudians with first degrees to gain professional accounting qualifications to compete for the 400 accounting jobs available in Bermuda.
Amid the doom and gloomier prognoses spewing forth from the politically inspired denizens of doom, a number of business-minded people, through their actions, not words, are reflecting a level of confidence in their belief that Bermuda is on the road to recovery. UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s description of what his country is going through economically a “slow and difficult healing process" resonates here. While a number of retail shops and restaurants have closed, others have opened and some have expanded their size. We have seen a significant commitment to the development of the hotel sector and we see Bermuda remaining a premier location for reinsurance. Some will argue none of this has to do with Government policy; these are usually the same people who also hold Government responsible for every business closure and every other negative set of business data.
This clearly shows Government has a plan for the economic revitalisation of our country, it is implemented, and it is slowly showing results during what remains a global recession. This strategy brings together a business friendly framework while ensuring people and jobs remain a priority.
Walton Brown is a social and political commentator and the Progressive Labour Party candidate for the Pembroke Central constituency. Follow his blog on www.respicefinem1.blogspot.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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