Burt: Budget all about work for Bermudians
There are almost 3,000 fewer jobs on the island than a year ago, the Premier said yesterday.
But David Burt predicted last Friday’s Budget laid the foundations for an economic recovery that would diversify the economy and get Bermudians back to work.
Mr Burt said the coronavirus pandemic had impacted every sector of the economy.
He added: “The national economic report speaks to the scale of the challenge – a decline of 1,935 posts in 2020 when compared to 2019 – a 5.6 per cent decrease.
“When laid-off employees are included into that figure, preliminary data suggests 2,924 less positions in Bermuda – a decline of 8.5 per cent.”
Mr Burt, also the tourism minister, said: “Where businesses were unable to transition employees to remote working as a means to keep operations going, the impact has been the hardest.
“The tourism sector, restaurants and bars have tried to weather the economic storm and will continue to need our help in the near term.
“This budget provides them with that assistance by extending relief that has been targeted to those sectors. The recovery is under way.”
Mr Burt said the soon-to-open St. Regis Hotel in St George’s and Bermudiana Beach development in Warwick offered fresh hope for the sector.
He added: “Both of these developments will provide much needed employment and will help to start the tourism recovery and also buttress the loss of the Fairmont Princess as that project moves forward to renovation.
He praised the Bermuda Tourism Authority for “a number of successes in 2020 when many people said our tourism season would be entirely written of”.
Mr Burt said that hotel workers will be given Phase 2 priority for the Covid-19 vaccine to “pivot” the island as a safe destination.
He added the Cabinet Office had managed to “meet expenditure targets set by the Ministry of Finance” so that funds could be diverted to essential services in health and education.
Mr Burt said the Cabinet Office would give capital grants to community clubs, develop a shoreside centre to support the fishing industry and fund investments in IT security
He added: “The Budget has a fully-funded Department of Economic Development to lead business development and economic diversification, which is critical to the work we must do if we’re going to continue to grow the economy.”
Mr Burt said that the Budget also offered “robust support for Bermuda business via the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation”.
He added: “We must get our people back to work, and once working, promote activity and growth that will keep them working.
“That is why this Budget contains significant stimulus to ensure that Bermudians can get back to work.”