A fragile’ economic recovery Richards
Bermuda seems to be in the early stages of an economic recovery, according to Minister of Finance Bob Richards.
“There seems to a nascent, fragile embryonic recovery in Bermuda,” Mr Richards told hundreds of business people gathered at the The Fairmont Hamilton Princess this morning for the annual Chamber of Commerce budget breakfast.
“The recovery can be easily derailed by us,” he said. “I mean all of us — not just the Government.”
But he warned: “This fragile recovery cannot stand any blunders on our part.”
The breakfast event had to be moved from the smaller Gazebo Room to the Harbour Ballroom to accommodate the numbers, with Chamber officials estimating there were 350 people in attendance, up from just over 300 last year, representing a broad range of sectors including real estate, retail, accountancy, utilities and advertising.
Mr Richards added there was “ . . . an awful lot at stake if we fail to get done what we want to get done,” noting that Bermuda is proud of its system, but the Island’s independence “is at risk if we don’t get this done.
“I said on Friday that if we don’t manage this I guarantee someone else will — that someone else with be from somewhere else overseas and it won’t be nice.
“It’s important for all of us to pull together — if we don’t all pull in the same direction we are going to go nowhere.
“We recognise that everyone has a part to play. If we follow our individual agendas we won’t be pulling in the same direction.”
He said Government would continue to follow a two-track strategy for moving the country forward. The first track was to encourage growth, while the second was to control and cut Government expenses. “We have to do both at the same time,” he said.
The audience also heard that amending citizenship categories was not the Government’s focus at present, although the Finance Minister did express the view that Bermuda needed an increase in population to fuel growth.
Mr Richards said the Government could not borrow further funds from overseas lenders as the Island was now ‘tapped out,’ and money to fund projects that would stimulate the economy would have to come from overseas private investors.
In addition, he said the top members of the civil service were to be made accountable for keeping within the budget’s constraints, and would suffer consequences if they did not.
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