The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party comments on OBA’s Stunning Reversa
Junior Minister of Finance asks - “What is the OBA hiding?”
The House of Assembly is currently debating next year’s budget. From what the country has heard so far from the OBA - it is clear that they have no plan for balanced economic growth that will support the workers of Bermuda, who are impacted by the highest global inflation in 40 years. In fact, the economic proposals of the One Bermuda Alliance are sure to damage Bermuda’s economic future.
Voters remember the last time the OBA had control of Bermuda’s finances. In their 4 ½ years, the national debt doubled,1 employee payroll taxes were raised to the highest level in history, and their failed Morgan’s Point project and unwise airport privatisation have cost the taxpayers more than $250 million to date.
Last week the OBA said that if given the opportunity to lead, they would increase costs for Bermudians by reintroducing travel authorization fees and they also proposed a new tax on healthcare services!
The sudden reversal of the OBA Leader, who now says he no longer supports the economic policy printed in his own Budget Reply, is surprising - but is not unexpected given how economically damaging those proposals would be. A tax on healthcare services would affect those who can least afford access to healthcare and the proposal to increase the cost of travelling to Bermuda, after eliminating the TA, is counterproductive. Notwithstanding the OBA Leader’s reversal - these economically damaging policies are still listed on the OBA’s Website2: Despite the clear confusion in the OBA Caucus, the question remains, what exactly is the OBA’s economic policy?
The OBA did not support the PLP’s tax changes that will reduce payroll taxes for every local business in Bermuda and also reduced payroll taxes for any person making under $132,000 a year. If elected, will the OBA reverse these PLP payroll tax changes, which reduced payroll taxes for 86% of the workers in this country? Does that mean small businesses that will see their tax bill fall by 43% next year can expect to pay more taxes under an OBA government?
The OBA claims they support increased capital investment, while at the same time wanting to reduce government spending; those two things cannot happen at the same time. So what is their actual policy regarding investments by the Government that are so crucial to the island's future development?
The PLP has worked with the international business sector to create the fastest growth in international business in Bermuda in 15 years. At the same time, the PLP recognises that there must be a balance in our economy so workers and small businesses who are struggling to cope with the highest global inflation in 40 years - have a reduced tax burden.
1 Net Debt was $1.2 Billion in 2012, in 2017 Net Debt was $2.4 Billion.
2 https://oba.bm/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/2324budgetreply-oba-web.pdf - Feb 28, 8:16PM.
The PLP believe that we must provide as much relief as possible to as many as possible - and that is what we have done. We provided relief to working Bermudians during the pandemic and after by reducing taxes on working families, providing payroll tax rebates, reducing car licensing fees, providing support to parents for school expenses, eliminating customs duty on staple goods, and a freeze in gasoline prices.
The PLP's Budget invests in public education, more health clinics in Bermuda, increased road paving, and funds our commitment to provide critical support for parents of young children with increased support for childcare; while reducing taxes for 86% of Bermuda’s workers and all local companies.
Bermuda deserves a real debate on economic policy, not soundbites that don’t add up. The PLP has delivered a budget that will continue to support sustainable economic growth while helping the working class and local businesses cope with high global inflation by cutting taxes. We hope that when the Senate debates the budget in March, the OBA will present a clear plan for the economy if elected - so that the island can have an honest debate on Bermuda’s economic future.
Senator Arianna Hodgson
Junior Minister for Labour, Finance and Health