Burt will target growth in Budget
The Budget will focus on sparking economic growth in Bermuda, the Premier said last night.
David Burt, also Minister of Finance, told an audience at St Paul Centennial Hall that any tax increases in the looming Budget would be “small and targeted”.
He said: “If you’re trying to grow the economy, then of course increasing the taxes is not the best way.
“When we look at the revenue things that are there, they are small, they are targeted. They are not wide-scale like an entire raise of payroll tax across the board, which would affect everyone and arguably depress employment further.
“As far as building growth, there are a number of things you will hear from the Budget statement itself, but that is where the entirety of the Budget will be focused.”
The comments came during a public meeting on the Pre-Budget Report, with about 100 people attending, despite the wet weather.
Mr Burt said the Bermuda economy was stable. He added: “It’s not a good thing.
“It is not growing as fast as it needs to grow, it’s not doing as well as it needs to. That is our challenge.”
The Premier said he had received criticism that the Progressive Labour Party would follow the path set by the One Bermuda Alliance. But he added that they were not elected to follow the same policies.
Mr Burt said: “I cannot have a Budget that just does the same thing.
“We have to have investments, which are required for growth, which is why we have to invest in education, in training, in making sure we market Bermuda overseas and making sure we put more resources into the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.”
He defended the decision to relax the 60:40 rule, which limits foreign ownership of most Bermudian businesses, arguing that it would help increase competition.
The Premier said: “People say we can’t allow foreigners into Bermuda to start competing against local entities, and that is a fair and valid point. But by and large, the 60:40 rule was not put in place to protect small business. It was put in place to protect the oligarchy.
“It was put in place so capital would not come in to make the industries more competitive.
“When you have a space where there is a high cost of living, when you have a space when there is not a lot of competition, you need to make changes possible and provide additional competition into your economy, additional capital into your economy that may be able to increase competition.”
Mr Burt said the Government wanted to put its money where it would have the greatest impact.
He added: “We believe that the greatest impact is in investments, we believe it is in education, in retraining and making sure we are taking care of the most vulnerable.”
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