Kempe speaks out after retail sales slump
A slump in retail sales needs urgent action, the Opposition has claimed.
Nick Kempe, the One Bermuda Alliance’s shadow finance minister, said that a change in approach was needed to protect Bermudian jobs.
Mr Kempe added: “Last week we heard from Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, that 200 Bermudians had lost their jobs in the retail sector.
“Now we hear that retail sales volume has again plunged when compared to August 2018’s already low numbers.”
Mr Kempe was speaking after figures released last week showed retail sales dropped by 7.6 per cent in August year-on-year when adjusted for inflation — the largest decline since June 2018.
The value of retail sales dropped almost $7 million from an estimated $97.8 million to $90.9 million.
Mr Kempe said: “Inflation is low as businesses are struggling to pass on all the new taxes and healthcare costs due to the plummeting spending numbers.
“It is no wonder that stores are closing, and people are losing jobs.
“Yet again I ask — where is the plan to fix this? Fintech jobs have nowhere near replaced jobs lost in other sectors and major construction projects will soon be coming to an end with nothing on the horizon to replace them.”
Mr Kempe criticised a lack of progress on immigration reform and said the working class and businesses had borne the brunt of tax increases.
He said: “We need to reduce the burden of government and corresponding taxation levels required to sustain it.
“We cannot continue to shift government expense onto workers and businesses and raise taxes at the same time.”
Mr Kempe added: “All the while, the size of government increases and little is put towards the debt.
“We must reform immigration, not to open the floodgates to foreigners as opponents to reform ridiculously claim, but to retain the existing guest workforce and to attract new wealth creators.
“Piecemeal changes in payroll tax for large retail stores is clearly not helping and the mom-and-pop corner stores are suffering and closing.
“Our premier is fast resembling Nero as he played his fiddle while watching Rome burn.”
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