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Economy on road to recovery, says OBA

OBA Senator Lynne Woolridge

The One Bermuda Alliance says the Island is “on the road to recovery” after new retail sales figures showed continued growth.

However, the Progressive Labour Party accused the OBA of “twisting statistics” to support their political narrative, stressing the need for diversification.

According to the Retail Sales Index for June, Bermuda recorded a 7.1 per cent increase on June 2014, which translates to 5.3 per cent when adjusted for inflation.

Lynne Woolridge, an OBA senator, pointed out that this marks the eleventh straight month the RSI has increased with all sectors recording growth after “six years of steady decline”.

Vehicle sales again recorded strong growth, increasing by 36.7 per cent compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 51.1 per cent in April. Sen Woolridge said: “This is an important economic indicator as vehicle purchases are an expensive investment which shows confidence in the economy going forward.”

Meanwhile, construction supplies saw a 12.6 per cent increase: the sixth consecutive monthly increase.

Linking the rise to residential projects, Sen Woolridge said: “This is supported by local realtors who have reported a marked uptick in demand for all properties — single family homes, duplexes, multiple family dwellings, land, commercial property and condos.

“The continued and strengthening upward trend in the RSI is a welcome indication that our economy is growing, especially when viewed alongside the recent report that showed Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rising 3.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 (2.1 per cent when adjusted for inflation), and the recent Labour Force Survey that showed unemployment is down to 7 per cent from 9 per cent.

“While there remains some way to go in terms of growing the economy and more jobs for Bermudians, these figures indicate the Bermuda economy is well on the road to recovery.

“The policies put in place by the OBA have taken time to root, but with foreign investment starting to return to our shores through hotel developments, international business growth and the America’s Cup, it is clear these policies are starting to bear fruit to the benefit of Bermudians across the Island.”

However, David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, said: “The fact that the OBA continues to trumpet 150 less people working in Bermuda in 2015 that in 2014 shows that they will twist any statistic to fit their political narrative.

“The Bermudian jobs crisis that exists under the OBA continues unabated with layoffs continuing in the local and international business sectors.

“Any positive move in retail sales is welcome, however, for any economic recovery to be sustainable in the long term, we must diversify our economy so that Bermudians are able to find work in their own country.”