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Simmons heads up Tax Reform Commission

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Work to accomplish: Ronald Simmons, chairman of the Tax Reform (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Tax Reform Commission is facing a difficult but achievable challenge, according to new chairman Ronald Simmons.

Mr Simmons, a former director of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, said he was honoured by the opportunity to serve as chairman.

He said: “The Premier has selected a great team of distinguished individuals.

“Given the numerous risks, uncertainties and challenges facing our economy, we have a lot of work to accomplish.

“However, I am confident we will be able to provide the Premier and the Government recommendations for comprehensive tax reform that is equitable, efficient, effective, transparent and fair, while enhancing Bermuda’s global competitiveness.”

David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, unveiled the members of the bipartisan commission yesterday.

The commission, designed to make Bermuda’s tax system fairer, stimulate economic activity and create jobs for Bermudians, was one of the Progressive Labour Party’s General Election pledges.

Mr Burt said: “I think the work of the Tax Reform Commission will go a long way in dealing with some of the biggest challenges which we have.

“Our system of taxation creates inequality by its very nature and structure and our overreliance on payroll tax at the same time discourages job creation in Bermuda.

“We have to balance those aspects and I’m quite certain that this diverse team will be able to look at the issues that we have and will be able to arrive at recommendations that will help Bermuda.”

In addition to Mr Simmons, the commission will include Jeanne Atherden, the Opposition leader, and Wayne Furbert, the Junior Minister of Finance.

Other commissioners include Donald Scott, a former Cabinet Secretary, Mitch Blaser, chief operating officer of Ironshore Inc, Craig Simmons, Bermuda College economics lecturer, and Brian Holdipp, senior corporate lawyer at MJM Ltd.

Mr Burt said: “These commissioners have a mammoth task ahead of them, but I am confident they are up to the challenge.

“As promised, this commission has representation from both political parties and a cross-section of expertise in Bermuda’s economy.”

He said he believed the commission would be fair, and that he looked forward to receiving its report in six months.