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Panel discuss need to expand resident and working population

Budget issue: expanding Bermuda’s resident and working population was a topic discussed at the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce Budget Breakfast (File photograph by Sideya Dill)

Bermuda needs to expand its resident and working population to increase its tax base and economic activity, according to business leaders at the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Budget.

This could be done in two ways, Arthur Wightman, PwC Bermuda leader, said.

One way is to attract new investors into Bermuda, with entrepreneurs coming and setting up businesses, and welcoming more people to live and work in Bermuda, including creating compelling reasons for Bermudians to return home.

Mr Wightman, who moderated the four-person panel, added: “It is also the case that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. We must work hard to retain those that are here already. There has been a steady and silent attrition of Bermudians and expatriate workers who have been leaving Bermuda over the last decade. More needs to be done to stop this exodus, to ensure that those who are here, feel like there is a reason to continue to be here, and to invest more deeply in the local economy.

“Bermuda will struggle to overcome its fiscal challenges unless these two points are meaningfully addressed.”

Nathan Kowalski, economist and chamber of commerce vice-president, said that never in history has there been economic growth without increased population. He said the island needs to make it easier for people to come and work in Bermuda, and also for workers to stay.

Suzanne Williams-Charles, director of policy and regulation, corporate secretary and data privacy officer at the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, said Abir encouraged continuing incentives for job creation.

She said: “The Economic Investment Certificate that was recently introduced – we see that as a positive step towards increasing people’s interest in investing in the economy. We are pleased to see that it also acknowledges the fact that people that have been existing on the island and already contributing will also be considered within that particular investment certificate, and it really demonstrates a reward for people who have been longstanding contributors to the Bermuda economy.“

One of the six priority initiatives mentioned in the Budget Statement, released on Friday, was expanding the resident population as “more people means more economic activity, more know-how, more diverse business, more for everyone”.

At the Budget Breakfast yesterday, Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, said: “The challenge is we have to acknowledge that part of the difficulty in moving forward with things like resident population is to understand the historic issues that have not been fully addressed in some people’s minds. We need to be having these conversations, and acknowledge the problems. And having come to the facts, we then figure out how do we move forward. But if people are not feeling heard, that creates an unnecessary obstacle to moving things forward.”

The Budget Breakfast was an online event, and was sponsored by PwC Bermuda.

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Published March 02, 2021 at 12:24 pm (Updated March 02, 2021 at 12:24 pm)

Panel discuss need to expand resident and working population

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