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The real story is OBA backtracking

Over the past few days, many Bermudians have had the opportunity to read some interesting articles in The Royal Gazette. By the time a story reaches print or online, a number of persons would have had to have done some research on the subject matter.

Skilled journalists and editors would check multiple sources to ensure that the story that they produce is factual. They would also check the background to the stories that they are investigating.

With that being said, let’s have a look at two stories reported recently by the Gazette.

The first one being written by Simon Jones, published March 20, titled “Relief coming to lower earners”.

It speaks of payroll concessions that, according to the One Bermuda Alliance, would give persons earning less than $96,000 an average of under $2 per day in savings.

Originally it was due to commence on April 1, 2017. However, it has been delayed by three months with the now-proposed implementation set for July 1.

Some questions that need to be asked:

• Why did the OBA bring this forward without having all of their ducks in a row?

• Was it procedural errors?

• Was it electioneering that went sideways?

Yet again, this is going to cost the Bermudian taxpayer nearly $1 million.

“Responding to questions, Mr Richards said the delay would cost the Government around $820,000 in lost revenue ...”

These things do not happen in isolation. A few weeks ago, some sentiments expressed in clear terms by the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce

“One area of concern for the Chamber is that this budget will be inflationary for Bermudians. Those people who will benefit initially from paying lower payroll taxes, and in fact all residents, will start paying more for goods and services.

“Increased company payroll taxes and rolled-back tax concessions to restaurants and retailers mean that these businesses will have no choice but to pass on these costs to consumers, or reduce their workforce. Neither of these is good for Bermuda.”

Well, it seems the OBA has backed itself into yet another corner again and has, according to yet another Royal Gazette article, been forced to delay implementation of its proposed customs duty hikes.

On March 16, a piece by Jonathan Bell was published, titled “OBA back-pedals on custom tariffs”.

The opening line pretty much encapsulated the entire fiasco.

“The Bermuda Government has been forced to back-pedal on revenue-raising customs amendments that had been expected to bring in almost $20 million.”

Again, this leaves many questions:

• Did the OBA/Minister of Finance consult with the Chamber of Commerce about their proposed tariff hikes?

• What does this backtrack do to the projected $224 million in revenue from duties?

That the OBA had to backtrack in short order could indicate that it is afraid of a backlash from both retailers and consumers.

Congrats to the intrepid reporters who checked several sources, asked probing questions and followed up on these vitally important issues.

Investigative journalism lives.