New economic body to advise Government on way forward
A newly formed government advisory body, the Economic Development Advisory Board, has been established.
It collaborated with the Ministry of Economy and Labour as the ministry produced the Economic Development Strategy report, debated in the Lower House on Friday.
The advisory board of civil servants and representatives from government quangos was established to provide strategic guidance on the implementation of the strategy and will set key performance indicators and regularly monitor and evaluate the progress of strategic economic priorities, according to the report.
The EDAB comprises representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Labour, the Economic Development Department, the Bermuda Business Development Agency, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Workforce Development.
The Bermuda Public Services Union, the trade union that represents civil servants, has a positive response to the Government's Economic Development Strategy.
BPSU president Armell Thomas believes it is a step in the right direction as it sets out government plans for the economy.
The document says: “In addition to ensuring that every able-bodied Bermudian has an opportunity to participate in the workforce, the Government will utilise net immigration as one of its solutions to ensure that there is enough labour to support Bermuda’s ageing population and growing economy."
While labour is represented on an immigration board that has faced pressure to change, the labour leader was reserved when The Royal Gazette asked if a change in government immigration policy would be widely accepted by labour.
Mr Thomas said: "The union accepts the challenges Bermuda will face in regards to our ageing population. The Government should consult with all relevant stakeholders before making suggested immigration changes."
He did say the five strategic priority areas outlined in the plan are appropriate.
The Economic Development Strategy Bermuda 2023-2027 said the five will form the bedrock of Bermuda’s economic development efforts:
1, Local and international business retention and expansion
2, Business attraction and investment promotion
3, Entrepreneurship and small business development
4, Continued Economic Recovery Plan execution
But he said: "The plan sets out a strategic framework for economic growth and development, which is good. However, issues such as the cost of living and pension reform must also be addressed."
In fact, while the report broadly outlines a checkpoint of ideals, Mr Thomas noted the usefulness of keeping the public apprised of developments.
He said: "The strategy contains a number of action items. It would be good if the Government provided regular updates on the progress of initiatives in the plan."