Cannonier calls on companies to invest more
International businesses would be “more than willing” to focus a greater amount of their investments locally, the Opposition leader has claimed.
Craig Cannonier said that if industry bosses appreciated the financial benefit to their companies and had confidence in Bermuda’s economy they would sign up to schemes that keep money on island.
In his Reply to the Throne Speech on Friday, he said private pension schemes should be made to invest some of their portfolios locally.
Mr Cannonier’s vision to stimulate the “flatlining economy” also proposed that all companies operating on the island, including exempted companies, should participate in the mandatory private pension scheme.
After the One Bermuda Alliance leader delivered his Reply in the House of Assembly, he told The Royal Gazette: “We need to be laser-focused, we need to be concentrating on the factors that drive the economy because if we don’t, nothing else matters.”
Mr Cannonier said that until that happened, “there will be no jobs, there will be a need for more financial assistance and the Government will continue to be challenged on how they meet those needs”.
He explained that exempted companies are not obliged to be part of Bermuda’s mandatory private pension scheme and claimed that in some large organisations almost all of their profits go overseas.
Mr Cannonier believes it is important to encourage these businesses to keep money local by pumping it into “vehicles we know work in Bermuda” such as the stock exchange and island economy.
He said that when the OBA was in Government it found that, after consultation, the industry businesses “were more than willing to participate in programmes”.
Mr Cannonier continued: “Investors just like to know that we are reinvesting in who we are, how we do that is reduce our debt.
“This country is paying $500,000 a day, that’s an incredible amount of money, so if we can show those interested in international business and investors that we’re willing to be good stewards of our finances then I don’t see a problem.”
He added: “If we can show the cost benefit to them, I’m sure that they’d be more than willing.”
Mr Cannonier continued: “A healthy economy is able to provide not only assistance but to provide hope to be able to live out a mandate of taking care of its people.
“Right now, I don’t feel like Bermuda feels it’s being taken care of — they’re losing income, they’re losing their homes, they can’t pay for schooling, they’re struggling.”
The Opposition leader said that if the economy was thriving, the country could even reach a stage where all Bermuda College places were funded.
Mr Cannonier explained: “Everyone recognises that if you can get an education we move ourselves to a better place ... because you’ve got better minds at the table, looking at things and figuring out solutions.”
His Reply to the Throne Speech included a suggestion that an independent education authority be set up, on a model such as the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
He said later: “We need an education authority — take the politics out of it. We’ve seen the success with the BTA, now we must implement this into education and get serious about making the changes necessary.
“The political bantering continues to hold our students back.It’s got to stop.”
When asked whether the body could have been established during the OBA’s reign from December 2012, to July 2017, Mr Cannonier said: “Our priority was financially to get government and the country on stable ground, we had to do that.
“We knew that education was a massive task. The problem was we were in such dire straits that just within two months of our administration, the finance minister [Bob Richards] came to me and said, we can’t pay anyone right now. That’s how bad things were.”
Mr Cannonier claimed attention would have turned to the establishment of an education authority if the party had won a second term in power.
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