It’s all about jobs: The Premier’s first year in office has focused on measures designed to stimulate economy recovery. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
It’s all about jobs: The Premier’s first year in office has focused on measures designed to stimulate economy recovery. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Almost $3 million a week has been lost to the economy with the exodus of expatriates and Bermudians, Premier Craig Cannonier said yesterday.

Mr Cannonier said it was estimated the island had lost up to 8,000 people in the last few years as the recession took its toll on the island.

The priority for the OBA (One Bermuda Alliance) government was now to bring those people back.

“Bermudians were emigrating, foreigners who were here were leaving the island, and the estimation is that we probably lost 7,000 or 8,000 people out of the economy, he said. 

“That’s devastating for such a small place like Bermuda. That’s money that is out of circulation that we don’t have anymore.

“There’s a statistic we have, taking 2,000 of those 8,000 (people) who have left the island. We estimate at a base value, they spend $1,500 on the island per week, spending (money) on gas, electricity, groceries and the like. That’s $3million almost a week we’ve lost out of the economy. At the end of the year, that’s almost $150million that this economy has lost.” 

He said the $3million was “a base figure” and that the reality of it is probably “far greater”.

Mr Cannonier said: “The priority is putting jobs on the table. We have to get our people back to work; we’ve got to get hotels built to bring up our bed numbers. That will invigorate the construction economy and entrepreneurs, the electricians and carpenters, and we need to move that.”

He said: “We did put out the stat(istic) we were looking to create 2,000 jobs within our first term. That meant that our first year really needed to be about getting a policy and legislation in place that would incentivize job creation, and that’s what we embarked upon.

“We recognized there were policies and legislation in place that were aggravating the investor in the country.

“Our first year was about looking ‘under the hood’ to establish what needed to be adjusted, what needed to be put in place to ensure our investors would look at the country as a first option. 

“Not only that, but we needed to ensure that those businesses that were here, that we would stop the bleeding as well.

“We looked at things like, the Finance Minister put in place a policy that said when you hire a Bermudian there will be tax reductions in his first two years.

“We also looked at reducing the tax on real estate…  because we recognized that these were incentives to get people again invested in the country.”

He said: “It’s important that Bermuda understand that we will not move our GDP out of the negative figures until we get more people back into this country.

There is no Bermuda dollar unless there is a US investment dollar coming in.

“We need those investors to come to the country, and that’s what the legislative agenda was about.”

The Premier said his government’s first year of office was focused on “restoring and renewing” the country.

He said: “The two pillars of our economy need to be reassured we will do whatever it takes in order to have it thrive.

“We can’t have one pillar not surviving, not being able to make ends meet as per se, and so we have gone about incentivizing tourism and business through investment.

“The next legislative year is going to be about making some tough decisions. 

“We are in a place whereby in 2004, we only had a debt of $190million, to now, nine years later, at $1.45 billion in debt.

Hard decisions

“We’re not going to get rid of that debt just by looking at it so we must get revenue and more people into the country — that’s the only way to build our GDP, by getting more people here circulating and spending money in the economy.

“And so the next legislative agenda will be about making some of those hard decisions, ensuring that our people get back to work, and being more efficient. 

“Next year will be about moving some of those big boulders and making some tough decisions to get us into a place where all Bermudians are rising at the same time.”

He said: “We are moving in the right direction when we see more businesses registered in Bermuda than since 2008, 2007.

“It is important to note we see consumer confidence rising in Bermuda, and now to see people coming to Bermuda wanting to invest, these are all positive signs saying we are moving in the right direction. 

“And so we continue on, steaming forward, looking to give hope and a brighter future to our people of Bermuda.”