MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27: The number of staff employed in the Civil Service should be cut, a Chamber of Commerce Budget breakfast heard today.
Digicel CEO Wayne Caines said that public sector posts could be reduced without job losses by selling services like the buses and ferries to the private sector, where people would continue to be employed.
Mr Caines said: “Cutting jobs by attrition is not enough. I know that cutting jobs in the Civil Service is not popular, but if we are to increase revenue we must consider some privatizing.”
He added that other ways the country could slash the budget deficit were to maximize income from satellite orbital spots over Bermuda and to get proposed new hotel developments up and running as soon as possible.
Mr Caines said: “In the short term, that would create jobs in the construction industry and in the long term create many jobs for Bermudians in the future.”
He added afterwards: “We have to look at ways of making the Civil Service more efficient. I don’t know enough about it to say if it could be smaller, but if it can be smaller then we should look at that.
“We should have a look at privatizing things, but there cannot be public discourse about cutting jobs in the Civil Service without retraining them in other jobs.
“The airport, bus services, ferry services, they’re all opportunities, huge opportunities, for privatization.”
Mr Caines was speaking as Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox joined him and Chamber of Commerce Economics Committee head Peter Everson for a post-Budget panel discussion sponsored by accountancy giants PwC.
Moderator Caroline Foulger, a partner with PwC, said the island had done well in the past out the twin pillars of international business and tourism.
But she said: “The Bermuda of the past cannot be the same as the Bermuda of the future. We are competition from everywhere, some of it not as polite as it used to be.
“We cannot say, ‘Bermuda used to be wonderful, let’s go back to what we did before,’ because that’s no longer going to be possible.”
And she called on Chamber of Commerce members to deploy their “personal and corporate passion” in helping Bermudians into work.
She added “not everyone can, or wants to be, a chartered accountant”, but Chamber members could use their skills to help Bermudians with things like numeracy and presentation to help them find suitable jobs.
Ms Cox told the Hamilton Princess meeting: “The decision in 2012 was not to do further harm to the economy so we kept the numbers fairly flat.”
She added that an “economic backstop” of payroll tax relief has been continued in the case of hard-hit sectors like hospitality and retail.