Tax structure in need of revamp — BIU
Bermuda's tax structure needs revamping sooner rather than later, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert said in his appraisal of the latest Budget statement.
Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, acknowledged in last Friday's statement that the island's taxation regime placed a heavier burden on lower income employees, and called for a restructured payroll tax system to be implemented for the fiscal year 2017/18.
“We always give credit where credit is due,” Mr Furbert said in welcoming the changes.
However, he pointed out that the union's call for a tax structured “based on one's ability to pay” went back to the days of his predecessor at the BIU, Ottiwell Simmons, who led the union from 1974 to 1996.
A full assessment of the latest Budget will come out in a special edition of the BIU's publication Worker's Voice on Friday of next week.
Mr Furbert said he found it “interesting” that the Ministry of Education had its budget reduced, in light of increases for the Department of Marine and Ports, the Department of Transport Control, and Public Transport, as well as an extra $1 million allocated to the Bermuda Tourism Authority, which will also receive higher revenues from increased hoteliers' fees.
“If that is to pay for incentives, that would be a crime against humanity for the One Bermuda Alliance Government,” he said.
The union head further queried budgetary allocations for salaries, wages and employer overheads estimated at $465 million for the fiscal year ahead, versus an estimated $460 million for 2015/16 and revised figure of $452 million.
Mr Furbert noted that the minister had said the latest Jobs Survey showed 298 fewer jobs reported, 225 of which were in the Government, adding: “Jobs have gone down by 225 but wages have gone up? How does that happen?”
Mr Furbert criticised the Government's plans for a redeveloped terminal at LF Wade International Airport. While Mr Richards has praised the deal as bringing value for money, Mr Furbert said it would cost the country $1,000 per square foot to build, which represented an unfavourable deal.