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Economy is on a good trajectory, says minister

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Bermuda’s economy has turned in a positive direction, the labour and economy minister claimed during a heated debate in the House of Assembly.

Jason Hayward also told MPs said the Ministry of Finance projected the island’s economy would grow between 2.5 per cent and 4 per cent in 2023.

Mr Hayward countered assertions during Friday’s motion to adjourn by Michael Dunkley, the shadow national security minister, that the island’s economy was struggling.

He said: “The Government has met with international business, local business through the Chamber of Commerce, and we collectively agree the economy is on a good trajectory and we are not heading to a recession.”

But Mr Dunkley challenged him, saying there were “more people leaving Bermuda than I have seen in my lifetime” – and that international business heads were “uncomfortable” with the Government’s payroll tax changes that would target high earners.

He told the House that global businesses could easily leave Bermuda, adding: “If they are uncomfortable in one place, it’s likely they will hire in other places.”

Mr Dunkley also criticised the Government over the loss of air routes, and said there had been “so many promises about the Fairmont Southampton – and none has become a reality”.

Mr Hayward said the global economy was expected to grow this year.

He admitted there were challenges but disputed that the economy was headed in the wrong direction, calling on Mr Dunkley to present evidence that the economy was struggling.

Mr Dunkley said Government MPs were living with “rose tinted glasses” if they thought the economy was doing well.

Mr Hayward admitted inflation meant people were spending more money for fewer goods, meaning their purchasing power was being reduced, and this was especially challenging for lower income households.

He said the International Labour Organisation had asked Government to look at wage policy, gender sensitive policies and macroeconomic policies to help people's purchasing power.

Mr Hayward noted Government debt was not directly correlated to economic growth but he said Government spending was a factor in the economy.

He said the minimum wage would help to improve purchasing power, as would enabling people to keep tips and keeping an unemployment benefit in place.

He added: "This is one of the reasons we are embarking in financial assistance reform and child daycare allowance. All of these factors improve purchasing power."

He said the Progressive Labour Party had a human-centred approach as a government, and his role meant he could encourage growth and make sure people were protected.

The House heard that the need to increase the working population was about maintaining a sustainable economy more than economic growth – because in the next ten to 15 years, a huge number of people would leave the island’s workforce.

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Published February 07, 2023 at 11:00 am (Updated February 07, 2023 at 11:00 am)

Economy is on a good trajectory, says minister

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