Election 2020: PLP bets on building projects
A Progressive Labour Party government would boost the economy with major public and private-sector building projects valued at more than $1 billion if it was re-elected, it said in its just-released platform.
The PLP added it would use the proceeds of the Government’s recent $1.35 billion debt raise “to move capital projects forward, providing immediate employment for those looking for work”.
The party said the projects were expected to “provide employment in construction over the next five years”.
Projects include the recently announced Ottiwell A Simmons International Arbitration Centre in Hamilton, a new residential home for seniors in the West End, the construction of affordable housing in the North Hamilton economic empowerment zone and major upgrades to the island’s water supply and waste treatment infrastructure.
The PLP also pledged to look for new investment to complete the ill-fated Morgan’s Point resort and to move the container port from Hamilton docks.
The party said construction projects also included redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton hotel, which it was announced yesterday will remain closed until April 2022, and a “new state-of-the-art medical tourism facility in Bermuda”.
The platform said its recovery plan would capitalise on Bermuda’s management of the coronavirus pandemic “to attract additional investment, create new jobs, and give all Bermudians an ownership stake in the Bermuda economy”.
It added another “key recovery commitment” was the creation of the Bermuda National Digital Bank, which would “allow for long-stalled industries like gaming to commence, creating jobs and economic growth, while connecting Bermuda’s residents and entrepreneurs to the global world of digital payments”.
The document added that a re-elected PLP would “increase banking competition in Bermuda by introducing new classes of banks to Bermuda while reducing required start-up capital for new banks”.
The PLP said it would “transform the City of Hamilton into a livable city, by fostering the development of apartment buildings in Hamilton that will enable young Bermudians to join the property ladder” and “start a green revolution led by the Government, that will increase the use of renewable energy in homes and businesses, to reduce electricity bills and do our part in the battle against climate change”.
The platform said it also planned a “nation of owners” to “ensure that wealth is created for Bermudians who have not benefited from the economic miracle that is Bermuda, due to systemic racism”.
A PLP government would create the Bermuda Trust Fund to “benefit economically disadvantaged Bermudians to reduce generational income inequality”.
The fund would be “seeded by economic investors in Bermuda who can invest directly” in it.
The platform added the Pension Commission would “assist in providing more on-island investment options, making it easier for workers to voluntarily invest their funds in approved economic development activities in Bermuda, building wealth for them and future generations”.
The party said it would increase investment in the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation “with the goal of starting dozens of new Bermudian-owned businesses every year”.
The PLP pledged to use the resources of the BEDC to “create an online market that will allow entrepreneurs easy access to sell their goods and services online without having to deal with costly individual set-ups, large monthly fees and merchant account complexities”.
There would also be expansion of the programme that has seen $38 million of government contracts go to small businesses over the last three years.
The platform said the PLP would “create employment while reducing long-term costs” with the installation of renewable energy equipment on large government buildings, public schools and at the National Sports Centre.
The PLP said it would “continue to focus on economic diversification”, including accelerating the development of Bermuda’s fintech industry, development of a cannabis industry, the creation of a food co-operative “to boost domestic food production”; and invest in the “blue economy”.
The platform added a national space strategy would be drawn up “to establish Bermuda as a global hub for the rapidly growing global space industry”.
It said it would boost markets for business by “seeking new trading partners in the Caribbean and Africa, developing business ties and courting investment”; and introduce legislation to “strengthen the development of co-operatives in Bermuda to facilitate a more equitable distribution of benefits and combat social exclusion”.
The platform added: “Bermudians who have been negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition will be the first persons to have access to any of the classes of business licenses.”
Investment in the blue economy would include completion of the shoreside facility to process fish caught in Bermuda and support for a co-operative purchase of larger fishing boats to increase the domestic capture of fish, which the platform said would reduce imports give the option of an export market.
The party also promised to “continue to uphold its commitment to protect jobs, opportunity and land for Bermudians first”.
It added it was “equally committed to ensuring that we use immigration policy as a powerful tool to ensure a growing and vibrant economy”.
Other election promises included the completion of immigration reforms to tackle problems faced by long-term residents and revision of the “long-term residential certificate policy to require all future residents to make economic investments in Bermuda”.
Immigration initiatives would also include changes to work permit policy to “promote business expansion in Bermuda while regulating gainful employment of guest workers”, and growing the economy by “providing incentives for emigrated Bermudians to return home”.
The platform said a PLP government would “focus on broadening the tax base to increase tax revenue rather than looking to increase taxes on existing taxpayers, which will slow economic recovery”.
The party said it had targeted a return to a balanced budget in “three fiscal years, when tourism has fully recovered following the pandemic”.
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