Job figures ‘horrifying but not unexpected’ – OBA
The Opposition One Bermuda Alliance has described the latest employment statistics as “horrifying but not unexpected”.
Jarion Richardson, the shadow labour minister, spoke out following the release of a report showing that the economy shed 1,900 jobs last year.
The report, compiled by the Government’s Department of Statistics, revealed massive job losses in the retail and tourism sectors, while employment in the Civil Service grew.
Mr Richardson put forward a five-point plan to create jobs, and urged Government to “stop chasing pie-in-the-sky ideas”.
He said: “So what is the status of the Economic Recovery Plan? There were 31 policies including creating new industries such as medical tourism, vertical farming, shoreside fishing and space communications, among others.
“How many jobs have been created in these areas to take the place of losses in other sectors?
“Stop chasing pie-in-the-sky ideas, or if you’re going to chase it, at least release quantitative information. This includes feasibility studies, cost projections, break-even forecasts and labour impacts, so that we can be assured these ideas are based on credible considerations.”
Mr Richardson said the loss of jobs in hotels, bars and restaurants was due to “immigration stagnation, onerous travel restrictions, and low enforcement of Covid regulations, among other causes”.
He added that the current closed job categories policy was “clumsy, blunt and ill-fitting to the labour market” and should be used more effectively.
“When used with incentives, such as rewarding the training of Bermudian replacements when granting a permit, it can be quite powerful and creates win-wins with all stakeholders,” he said.
In addition, he said the minister of labour should not get involved in the daily administration of immigration policy, but instead “expedite outstanding immigration issues to get more money moving around the economy”.
Mr Richardson suggested that the Government encourage residents to buy in Bermuda by offering “good corporate citizen benefits“ such as charitable giving. Red tape could also be cut, he claimed.
He called on the Government to desist from divisive language.
“Those who have the ability to create jobs also have the ability to invest their money in places where they are not depicted as the enemy,” he said.
“Meanwhile, those without economic resources will become more and more dependent on government handouts and a rapidly diminishing tax base.”
Mr Richardson claimed that Wayne Furbert, the minister for the Cabinet Office, did not have the confidence of the business community, while the Ministry of Labour was “not suited to speak to the people who have the ability to create the jobs in the first place”.
“That’s the Minister of Finance – yet the Government has failed to put the minister in front of the press,” he said.
“Without a doubt, these job numbers say we need more jobs, not more manipulation of the existing jobs.”
Mr Richardson painted a grim picture of the economic outlook, claiming: “The cost of goods is increasing due to, among other factors, shipping and resource costs from other countries. Local inflation is expected to increase.
“Working seniors, some of whom have already taken funds out of their pensions, will be forced to quit working through retirement and redundancies, meaning less money going into health insurance and pensions.
“This also means less money to be spent on consumer services and purchases. When we add spiralling unemployment, sustainable living will get harder and harder every year.
“There is less money flowing around the economy, so there is less money to pay and to be paid. Distressingly, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
“In all, the job numbers are horrifying, but they’re not unexpected.
“And until we address the root cause of them, which cannot be solely laid at the feet of Covid, then we can only expect this to get worse.
“Economic suffering will increase in Bermuda until this government changes its policies, or Bermudians change this government.”
The Royal Gazette e-mailed a series of questions regarding the employment statistics to the Government on Tuesday. No response was received by press time.