Green shoots of economic recovery should be sprouting by next spring if Finance Minister Bob Richards’ policies work, an expert said yesterday.

Peter Everson, the chairman of the economics committee of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, said: “I would like to see an upturn next year.

“I wouldn’t say I’m looking for it. But I would like to see that from the spring onwards.”

Mr Everson was speaking after Mr Richards released a series of figures on the economy – and said that, although there were few signs of recovery, the long-term economic nosedive had been halted.

And Mr Richards added that confidence in Bermuda, both at home and among overseas investors, was on the rise, which would help stimulate the island’s ailing finances.

Mr Everson said: “For the first six months this year, there hasn’t, as far as I can see, that much physical evidence of a recovery.

“But I think what Mr Richards is alluding to is the number of businesses enquiring about the cost of locating in Bermuda.”

Mr Everson added: “For new business to arrive in Bermuda and have a meaningful impact on the economy so the man in the street notices more money and more activity in the economy takes time.”

And he said that in areas like construction, there was considerable paperwork and planning before “you put spades in the ground.”

Mr Everson added: “What we will be looking for from September onwards is to see whether or not there are more hotel developments and whether there are more business developments.”

He said that for those who were unemployed or under-employed, “each month that goes by is a month too long”.

But he added: “From the policy-making perspective, Bermuda didn’t go off the rails overnight. It took years and years of inappropriate policies, so it takes some time to turn that around. We know that the economy has been contracting for several years. Before we can start turning that around, we have to have that birthing period……..gradually one or two things which were negative will become positive and that leads to other things becoming positive.”

Mr Everson, also a business consultant, said that plans for economic recovery would be phased around crucial periods – with this winter also being important.

He added: “October to March will be quite important on the business front to see if we can attract more international business.

“On the tourism front, we haven’t yet got the Tourism Authority up and running, but I can’t imagine it will have much of an impact by next summer.”
And Mr Everson said the results of the SAGE Commission probe into how to make public services more efficient and cheaper, which is due to report in October, was “really critical.”

He added: “If that’s produced in October, it will take three months of discussion with the Civil Service, unions and the public as to how they will implement it and in what time frame.

“That leads into the Budget next March – all these things will be in different phases, but all are important to reversing Bermuda’s decline.” n