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Burt: Door is open to business community

David Burt insisted his “door is open” to the concerns of the business community after a survey found confidence plunged dramatically.

The Premier also pointed to positive economic signs from the first quarter of 2018, but conceded there was a long way to go on the road to recovery.

His remarks came as Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, said that economic recovery begun under the One Bermuda Alliance risked “going backwards”.

Bermuda Business Confidence Survey results released last Friday showed confidence fell to 86.4 points, the lowest reading since the survey was launched in 2014.

Business leaders responded by calling for the island to change its approach to immigration and attract more working-age people to the island.

Mr Burt said yesterday: “The Business Confidence Index is one benchmark for Bermuda. We can measure our future successes against where we stand today.

“We have a joint responsibility to work together to improve economic growth and diversification, to create business opportunities and jobs for Bermudians.

“My door is open. I am available to hear the concerns of the business community with a view to finding solutions together.”

First-quarter results showed government revenues, air arrivals and employment were up, government spending was down and the deficit was down by 24 per cent.

Mr Burt said: “The report highlights economic and external factors impacting Bermuda businesses and the confidence in Bermuda's business environment.

“This is one snapshot in time and provides an opportunity for Government and business to work together to continue to strengthen our economy.

“Is everything perfect? No. We still have a long way to go.”

Mr Burt noted his Budget pledge to provide jobs and careers for Bermudians by diversifying the economy, and aggressively finding new global areas of growth.

He said: “This government is committed to working with local and international companies to grow the economy and create jobs for Bermudians.”

Last night, Mr Cannonier said that the impetus from projects such as hotel construction, the airport redevelopment and balancing the Budget had been “lost”.

He added: “The fact that we would be balancing the budget under an OBA government this coming fiscal year speaks to the issues many have in the business community. That will not be a reality with this government.

“In the last few weeks we have seen nothing but negative reports on the state of Bermuda's economy, income levels or the level of business confidence. All this while we still wait to see the hundreds of jobs the PLP promised in fintech.”

Mr Cannonier said the index report showed confidence dropping almost 20 points, with immigration “one of the major concerns”.

The Opposition leader cited the Government's Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics, with a $15.5 million drop in employment income over the first quarter of the year, as well as the 0.4 per cent fall in real GDP for the first quarter of 2018, and a decline in retail sales volume reported for June.

He charged that healthcare costs had continued to climb, and criticised “new dividend taxes which will hit the small Bermudian businesses”.

Mr Cannonier added that Bermuda was on “an economic knife-edge”, with the Government's policies failing to stimulate the economy.

David Burt, the Premier (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published October 01, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated October 01, 2018 at 9:01 am)

Burt: Door is open to business community

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