Momma always told us, often via wooden spoon, “It is not what you say but how you say it. It is not what you do but how you do it.”
As we all know mama, and her wooden spoon, was always right.
Approximately 4 years ago former Finance Minister Bob Richards spoke about the need to abolish the 60/40 rule regarding foreign investment/ownership in companies based in Bermuda.
In response to the proposal, I wrote a piece in the then Bermuda Sun pointing out a few critical issues and patterns of the then OBA government:
This was confirmed by former MP Bob Richards on February 21,2014 when he tabled the 2014/15 OBA Budget where he outlined the OBA’s plan to introduce legislation before the end of the session to enable the government to “Abolish, merge, modify or transfer Government” functions to “an entity such as a company, a public service mutual, a registered charity or a trust body”.
Fast forward to 2018 the present Minister of Finance David Burt has presented a case for relaxation of the 60/40.
Before we proceed let’s go back to what mama said: “It is not what you do, but how you do it."
During the tenure of the OBA, they proved time and time again that they rarely had the best interests of every day Mr. and Mrs. Bermuda at the forefront of their policies and legislation
- Cutting scholarships
- Imposing furlough days
- Cutting the budget for public buses
- Cutting the budget for Garbage trucks
- No increase in pension for seniors for 4 years
What was that phrase again? “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”
There’s one thing political parties must keep in mind… "They can be voted in and they can be voted out."
On July 18th, 2017, the OBA was voted out and the PLP was voted in.
We were voted in to represent not just the seniors who need an increase in pension but also the young lady looking to start her own accounting firm.
We were voted in to represent not just the civil servants who provide essential services such as the ferry service and maintaining our roads, but we were voted in to represent the Bermudian retailers who struggle to get proper financing from local investors.
As evidenced above, the biggest challenge we or any government has is to maintain balance whilst seeking progress.
As a forward-looking government, we have had to re-examine the nuts and bolts of the 60/40 legislation and reconfigure how it will best work for Bermudian entrepreneurs.
Imagine if you will for a moment that a few government workers are seeking to partner to start their own business. They have their business plan they have attended multiple courses at the BEDC and are ready to start their dream.
They go to all the local lending sources and are turned down for one reason or another. Where do they turn to now? Or do they just let their dream die?
Let’s imagine another real-life scenario. Mrs. Jones has an ongoing ‘Mom and Pop’ shop making baked goods. She sees a spot in Hamilton where she can perhaps open her own little bakery. But alas she needs $100,000 and the banks just are not lending that to her. Does she let her dream die?
You see one of our roles is to help facilitate the progress of our Bermudian people in every facet of life. Economic rules tell us that more successful small businesses contribute and equate to a growing and healthy economy. Small business employs Bermudians and contributes to our tax base via:
- the payroll tax
- custom duties
In turn, those customs duties and taxes provide:
- Salaries for 5,000 Civil Servants such as; Firemen, Policemen and Sanitation Workers
- Services such as; free Public Education, Future Care for Seniors and road paving
Some will ask why the shift in mindset towards relaxation of the 60/40 legislation. Well, to be frank, the OBA proved over an over that their policies were not geared to uplift the common Bermudian, so naturally there was resistance.
This government’s mandate is to oversee the evolution of our society, our economy and ultimately the Bermudian people.
So as with comprehensive immigration reform, the 40/60 will be crafted to ensure Bermudians come first whilst facilitating an attractive environment for investors.
It is not what will be done…it is how it will be done.