A PLP government offers solutions
As the One Bermuda Alliance continues to strive for relevance, we see their continued attempts to try to 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 bricks-and-mortar retail entities of the past are dwindling in favour of alternate models such as online shopping.
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 interest rates on mortgages is having on Bermudian buying power. For those reasons, the Progressive Labour Party 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 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 per cent for the first three quarters of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017.”
The America’s 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 lacklustre performance by the OBA’s Nick Kempe.
The year-over-year level of employment income, according to the 2018 National Economic Report of Bermuda, again declined by 1.6 per cent during the first quarter and by 1.4 per cent during the second quarter, but increased by 1.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.
Today in 2019, we report that employment income remains up and GDP for the fourth 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 is for a return to the 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 after 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 markups, 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 present approach, 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 pockets, benefit from lower mortgages and enjoy lower healthcare costs.
• Michael Scott is a government backbencher and the MP for Sandys North (Constituency 36)
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