OBA lays out policy ideas in response to Premier’s pre-Budget report
The One Bermuda Alliance yesterday called for a reduction in the size of government and a relaxation of immigration policies in its response to the Pre-Budget Report.
In a statement released this afternoon, Cole Simons, the OBA leader, said the economic picture painted by the Government was “unrealistic”.
“Higher interest rates, the increased cost of living, the war in Ukraine, continued supply-chain shortages, higher global energy costs and the re-emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic variants are all key ingredients for a perfect storm of unprecedented challenges which await us in 2023,” Mr Simons said.
“Undoubtedly, the only things that will likely thrive in the coming year are inflation — which is at a 40-year high of between 9 to 10 per cent — and the cost of living.
“The OBA recognises that a balance must be struck between tightening our proverbial belts, supplying resources to sell Bermuda as a preferred jurisdiction to invest and do business in, and to support the vulnerable who are most impacted, from a health and economic perspective.”
In the statement, Mr Simons said that the island should brace itself for a difficult and challenging period.
He said the OBA, if elected, would reduce the size of government through offers of early retirement and attrition and work harder to recover money owed to the Government in accounts receivables.
He also said the OBA would expand the island’s workforce through more relaxed immigration policies with the goal of making it easier for job creators, executives, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals to come to Bermuda and create jobs.
Mr Simons called for a “glide path” to balance the budget within three years to reduce the reoccurring current account deficit, along with additional resources for the island’s agricultural and fisheries industry to encourage job creation and improve food security.
He also said the OBA would seek to add resources to the Bermuda College and Workforce Development teams to help retool students and workers for newly created jobs in the private and public sector.
Mr Simons added that the OBA would provide more “economic and human capital” to the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Business Development Agency to make the island more competitive with other jurisdictions for visitors and capital.
He said that with feedback from the public and the international business sector, the One Bermuda Alliance would “examine, define and implement the most equitable, fair, efficient and transparent tax system, to serve the needs and people of Bermuda today and into the future”, and “not a structure which was crafted to serve the needs of Bermuda’s past and its legacy”.
“We would also consider the G20/OECD Global Tax Initiative which addresses domestic tax base erosion, and profit shifting to multinational enterprises to end tax avoidance,” Mr Simons added.
The Government’s Pre-Budget Report proposed a major shake-up of the payroll tax system which would eliminate the levy for low earners.
David Burt said in the report that the Budget deficit was expected to be $72 million, up from $70 million projected in February, despite higher-than-forecast Government revenue.
• For the full text of the OBA’s response to the pre-Budget report, see related media.