WEDNESDAY, FEB. 15: More than 3,400 residents have signed a petition “urging” Premier Paula Cox not to increase the duty to 35 per cent on shipped goods.
Copies of the petition were given to the news media yesterday with the cover letter saying “We the people of Bermuda urge the Government to hear our voices and not to increase duty on personal imports.
“Duty increases will hurt Bermudians and residents, remove our right for free choice, injure businesses, lower business volume and activity and lead to layoffs and business closures. It will lessen competition and lead to increased prices in Bermuda and consequently increased inflation.”
Charles Gosling, Mayor of Hamilton and vice president and managing director of Gosling Brothers, wrote in the petition: “Protectionism does not work. This will lead to higher prices as the competition is forced into being more expensive.”
Glenn Jones wrote: “I think the move if made would be shortsighted and probably cause more harm than good.”
Petitioner Charles Jeffers wrote: “There seems to be no serious thought given to some of the reasons given to shopping online such as availability of choices in styles and sizes, particularly in clothing and shoes. This also applies to many other items.”
Les Center wrote: “This is nothing but a tax grab. Ridiculous. The Government is broke and now they’re grasping at straws.”
Petitioner Duan Leverock said: “As someone who often must shop online for goods I simply cannot access in Bermuda, I feel we are being unduly penalized. It is unfair to raise the duty rate across the board to build revenue off the backs of the working citizen that is already suffering.”
Andrew Vaucrosson wrote: This is a desperate move by a Government who is now coming to terms with poor financial management. We need to think of sustainable cost cutting that is suitable for an island community.”
Cranston Warren was succinct in his comment: “Again, it is the small man that is made to suffer.”
Michael Fay wrote: “Increasing duty is not going to encourage me to shop locally. Nine times out of 10 I simply cannot find what I’m looking for here on the island, If it’s here I buy it, but I don’t see why I should get penalized because no one sells what I want to buy.”
Mike Even, who has a BA in Economics from Cornell University and MBA in Economics from MIT, said: “It is difficult to prop-up retailers by increasing tariffs on other purchasing channels.
“Economic progress moves on and less competitive businesses eventually evolve or fail; regulations may slow that trajectory, but they cannot reverse it.”
He added: “As an observer of economic policy and as an investor, I can say with some certainty that over time these tariffs will not protect the domestic retailers, will increase costs for consumers in Bermuda, will dampen demand and growth and will probably detract from government revenue, not enhance it.”