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OBA will do ‘nothing special’ for ‘historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs

Investment incentives for disadvantaged communities would be taken away by an Opposition proposal for an Island-wide Economic Empowerment Zone (EEZ).The Progressive Labour Party last night said the One Bermuda Alliance recommendation would detract from zones set up for Northeast Hamilton, Somerset and St George’s.The PLP response followed a suggestion in the Senate by the OBA’s Michael Dunkley.Senator Dunkley last week said that Government should “open it up to the entire Island instead of just selected areas”.A PLP spokesman shot back: “Do you think it is worth providing incentives for investment in these communities? If so, what will you do to promote investment in these communities?“The EEZ is designed to help historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs in areas that need investment.“By branding legislation related to the EEZ and small businesses ‘Mickey Mouse’, the OBA has made it clear that they will do nothing special to help historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs and they will do nothing special to help Northeast Hamilton, Somerset and St George’s develop.”Opposition MPs had derided aspects of the legislation during a House of Assembly debate on retooling the Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation into the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.The PLP called upon Sen Dunkley to clarify his position, noting that “the Opposition regularly tables questions in the House of Assembly that the PLP Government dutifully answers in great detail”.The spokesman also said OBA MP Bob Richards had refused to give details to questions on the Opposition’s position on immigration.Mr Dunkley said: “I am humbled that the PLP are now seeking the advice of myself and colleagues to help pull them out of the economic mess they have created.”He said that while Government had answered questions in the House, there had been no answers to financial questions asked in the Senate on “the total revenue, total expenditure and total debt to March 31, 2011”.Mr Dunkley defended his stance on the EEZ extension, saying: “My colleagues and I have listened to the people and we share their concern that the whole island is in the midst of an economic downturn and we should work to empower all people.“No one should be left behind. As we change direction and climb out of this downturn, as we put Bermuda back to work and on a path to security and prosperity, all Bermudians must be involved in this process.”