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Confidence in the economy surges

Confidence in the economy has shot up dramatically since last December’s general election, according to a new survey.

And Finance Minister Bob Richards’ first Budget in February has also won the approval of a majority of residents.

According to the survey, conducted by Total Research Associates, the Bermuda Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) now stands at a five-year high after slumping to an all-time low at the beginning of December, just before the country went to the polls.

Almost two-thirds of those questioned — 64 percent — said they approved of the first ever One Bermuda Alliance Budget, while just 14 percent disapproved. The figures mark a dramatic turnaround from the last PLP Budget in March 2012, which was approved by just 37 percent and criticised by 46 percent. The same number of people — 64 percent — said they believed the Budget would help Bermuda’s economic recovery, while just 20 percent disagreed.

According to the research company, the number of people who now feel that the national economy is worse than it was one year ago has dropped by more than half since the last quarterly survey, which was conducted between November 27 and December 12, 2012.

Then, 69 percent of respondents believed the economy had deteriorated in the previous 12 months. Now, just 31 percent believe the Island is still in economic decline.

There was also a significant increase in those who felt the economy had improved (13 percent, up seven points) while confidence in the economic outlook also rose. Almost half (47 percent) felt the economy would be in better shape 12 months from now. In December, just 21 percent of respondents shared that view.

Researchers spoke to 400 residents in the last two weeks of March. The results are accurate to within plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Since its election victory, the OBA Government has adopted a two-pronged economic strategy, pledging to bring down the national debt and get Bermudians back to work by attracting foreign investment.

Last night Premier Craig Cannonier said emergency measures introduced by the new OBA administration during its first weeks in office — including a payroll tax holiday for new hires and the abolition of term limits — had created “a definite sense of excitement and optimism”.

“That optimism can be directly attributed to the recent policy changes that we have implemented to invigorate the economy and foster interest both locally and internationally.

“For example, at this time last year only one high-end residential property was scheduled for purchase. This year there are already two, which is an improvement of 100 percent.

“We’ve seen that optimism in the opening of new businesses over these past few months and weeks — all signs that people still believe in Bermuda.

“Additionally, we’re looking forward to showcasing Bermuda next week when we attend the annual RIMS Conference to ensure that the world knows we’re more than sun and sand — we are the premier destination for investment.

“To that end, this Government will continue to work diligently to create confidence in the economy, which will in turn foster job creation for Bermudians.“

The figures have also been welcomed by business bosses. Chamber of Commerce president Ronnie Vieira said that while any recovery will be gradual, the results indicated that the economy is beginning to bounce back after two straight years of negative growth.

“The main message coming out of the survey is that residents feel more confident this year which bodes well for the economy as a whole,” Mr Vieira said.

“Hopefully, this will mean that they will move forward with purchases and projects which up until now may have been put on hold due to the concern about the economy and jobs.

“As has been mentioned before, it will take us all a while to get through this recession however, consumer confidence is a critical factor in doing so. Certainly our members look forward to being the beneficiaries of increased business activity and consumer buying.”

Consumer confidence is at a five-year high according to a new survey by Total Research Associates Limited. (File photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published April 19, 2013 at 11:00 am (Updated April 19, 2013 at 11:28 am)

Confidence in the economy surges

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