OBA vows to support economic relief
A cross-party relief scheme and payroll tax relief could help the people worst-affected by the Covid-19 crisis, the Leader of the Opposition said today.
Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, said his party would back an economic relief commission.
He explained: “A bipartisan commission, chaired by the finance minister, would help to ensure the removal of any red tape to quickly get aid out to those most in need.
“We are prepared to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Government and are working with them to help Bermuda overcome this crisis.
“This commission would stand outside normal Government channels to ensure it can move with the urgency required.”
Mr Cannonier added: “We would also ask Government to consider a waiver of payroll tax for the first quarter of this year. Now is the time to reduce the burden of those most in need.”
A Government spokeswoman said that the Government “took note” of the offer from the Opposition leader.
She explained: “At this time, the Government is focused on addressing the Covid-19 virus, the far-ranging impact it is having on our island and addressing our people who are in need.
“The Premier and the Opposition Leader are in regular contact.
“During the Covid-19 situation, the Government has hosted a bipartisan briefing and ensured that there is regular and ongoing communication with the Opposition.
“We believe that good policy that benefits Bermudians is made through unity and direct dialogue, not via the media.
“Therefore the Premier has committed to reaching out to the Opposition Leader to discuss his thoughts, but will not engage in that discussion via the media.”
Shadow finance minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said in a statement released on Wednesday: “While it is right and proper that Government concentrates on ensuring the health and safety of Bermuda and its citizens, we must at the same time plan ahead. Once this is over, we must be able to bounce back.
“With that in mind, I would support the creation of a bi-partisan commission to create a strategy for the economic recovery of Bermuda once the Covid-19 crisis is over.
“The commission, which could also have representatives from groups such as Bermuda First, the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Business Development Agency, would be responsible for ensuring a clear plan has been laid to help Bermudians get back to work.
“We know that the economic impact is going to be huge and that Government revenues will be severely impacted so we cannot afford to be reactive and wait. We must be proactive and ready to hit the ground running.”