An increase in work permit fees and a decrease in payroll tax could help Bermudians get into the workforce, the shadow finance minister said.
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Shadow Minister of Finance, told The Royal Gazette this afternoon that other jurisdictions have taken a similar approach to that which she put forward in her Budget Reply.
She said: “It’s not so much that we want to see an inordinate increase for international business, but we want to highlight the responsibility that companies have to look at Bermudians and try to give Bermudians the best possible opportunity for work.
“If they have a massive cost that they have to spend for work permits, they might think twice about hiring a foreigner over a qualified Bermudian.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin added: “If we can give them a tax break for payroll tax, then to the extent that they hire Bermudians it will cost them less.
“It’s something that is being done by many of our colleagues to the south and it’s something that’s worth exploration. I’m not saying it’s going to fly — there is a lot of technical stuff involved in making sure it’s workable for us — but I think it’s something that’s worth considering.” The shadow minister, who delivered the One Bermuda Alliance Reply to the Budget in the House of Assembly today, also acknowledged that some of the proposals would require capital that is not available.
She said: “It’s the government’s responsibility to grow the economy. They have failed to do so. We do not have enough money.
“But I think that we have problems that are being exacerbated because we do not have the capacity to treat them.
“I think we need to start to prioritise where our money is being spent and not spending money on making sure that your Members of Parliament have chairmanships on boards.
“Those pennies add up, and over time that money could help.”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that fintech had not proven to be a “silver bullet” for Bermuda’s economic woes and the Progressive Labour Party had made decisions that hindered growth.
She also said that a proposed Cabinet sub-committee on education could help to lay the groundwork for an education authority, which would take politics out of education.
The Paget West MP said: “If we are finding that there are limitations to how instruction is delivered to our children, then we have an obligation to rectify that situation.
“Our children are suffering. We need politics out of it, truth be told.”
She also accepted that both the PLP and OBA Governments had fought to introduce a new bus schedule, but believed the problem could be addressed.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said: “It seems as though one of the impediments that was recommended and announced with great aplomb last year didn’t have an adequate level of care and concern for the operators.
“You cannot have people driving buses and not care about their wellbeing. It can’t be that difficult to do.
“The Government thought they had the answer to it. Under the OBA, we thought we had the answer to it. It was agreed by the unions and then for whatever reason never implemented.”
She added: “We didn’t have the opportunity of time, and by the time that we brought the proposals which were agreed by the union, we entered into an election and things changed.”