Burt faces PLP opposition over 60:40 rule
David Burt conceded he will face opposition from within his own camp as he outlined plans to reform the business ownership 60:40 rule.
In yesterday's Budget Statement it was announced foreigners, who could previously only own 40 per cent of a business, would now be able to own up to 60 per cent.
Mr Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, said the move would help end a “vestige of our oligarchic past”, and allow Bermudian entrepreneurs to access capital if turned down by banks.
He said: “I recognise that this proposal will face opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.
“There will be those who want to protect their existing interests, and there will be those who feel that allowing entrepreneurs access to foreign capital enabling them to compete is not consistent with putting Bermudians first.
“However, I want to assure the people of Bermuda that the Government will consult and strike the right balance to ensure that the revision of this rule has the intended consequence of providing more opportunities for Bermudians to become wealth-generating owners and not just employees.”
Mr Burt had signalled the plan as a method of stimulating growth last month, when he described the 60:40 rule as a “sacred cow” that may need to be touched.
Yesterday, he explained that the origins of policy bear witness to the history of Bermuda and its systemic inequalities.
He said: “The rule is the ultimate in protectionism, which runs counter to the claim of Bermudian entrepreneurship.
“If wealth is concentrated in a few hands, and those hands will never invest in anything that competes with their vested interests, a true entrepreneur is confronted with a policy that essentially tells him or her, ‘We've got ours; good luck getting yours.'
“In 2018, this vestige of our oligarchic past must be ended. We need more economic activity in Bermuda, and that means we must welcome investment from nontraditional quarters and not shy away from the competition it may create.
“In the truly competitive marketplace, the consumer will always be the winner, as all Bermudians want and seek lower prices for goods and services.”
Mr Burt noted Bermudians would prefer to own 40 per cent of a million-dollar business than 100 per cent of a $50,000 business.
He said: “For too long, the majority of Bermudians have been spectators of the creation of wealth in this country.
“This government is determined to create the conditions and opportunities that usher the left-behind from the stands and sidelines to the playing field.
“Bermudian entrepreneurs should not have to rely on their inheritance or banks that often refuse to lend to fund their ambitions.”