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Throne Speech: OBA disappointed over jobs

One Bermuda Alliance leader Craig Cannonier (File photograph)

The Throne Speech fell short on job creation and economic development, the Opposition leader said yesterday.

Craig Cannonier added the Government missed the opportunity to help people who struggled with the high cost of living and that small businesses could be hurt by proposed tax reforms.

The One Bermuda Alliance leader said the theme of economic inequality deserved praise.

But he added: “There was no real mention of creating jobs or economic development, which is the best way of helping people cope with the cost of living and inequality.

“Government appears to have all its eggs in the fintech basket, so to see no overriding emphasis on improving the job prospects for Mr and Mrs Bermuda was concerning.”

Mr Cannonier said: “We saw some mention of support for technology-based businesses and vertical farms, but plans for economic development were limited to two paragraphs.

“There was also nothing to offer small and medium-sized businesses, many of whom are just managing to survive and I am concerned they may be further disadvantaged by the plans for progressive social insurance payments.

“A progressive tax based on energy consumption could also affect businesses and further push up their operating costs which either get passed on to the consumer or which force the business to make redundancies.”

Mr Cannonier praised plans to ban single-use plastics, a promise to consider increasing paid maternity leave from eight weeks to 13 and the creation of an arbitration centre.

But he added: “While we would all like to see lower healthcare costs, there are a lot of questions about the plan to have one or two health insurance pools.

“This could have very negative effects on employment for our insurers.”

Mr Cannonier warned: “Economic indicators are all down, the date to balance the budget has been pushed back and Bermuda is still borrowing more.

“Imagine a Bermuda today, therefore, that did not have the jobs that the airport created, and will continue to create, imagine if we did not have the economic input of the America’s Cup, imagine if we did not have the Bermuda Tourism Authority — how much worse would Bermuda be today?”