Finance Minister Bob Richards *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Finance Minister Bob Richards *Photo by Kageaki Smith

The Chamber of Commerce today welcomed the 'refreshingly honest' budget put forward by Finance Minister Bob Richards.

The Chamber's retail and restaurant sectors said they were 'heartened' by the news that current payroll tax concessions would be extended for another years.

While the real estate sector was 'buoyed by the prospect of significantly lower licensing fees for the purchase of homes to non-Bermudians and islanders with Permanent Resident's Certificate.

Peter Everson, Co-Chair of the Chamber’s Economics Committee said the Chamber was impressed at what the Government had managed to achieve in three months.

He added: “The Minister did not sugarcoat the facts. He clearly outlined our position in relationship to the world economy and honestly addressed the issue of debt; recognizing that in recent years we have not been  adhering to the international debt ratio standards required to service our debt and maintain our favourable ratings. 

"Raising the debt ceiling to $2.5 billion is exactly what needed to be done. In the past the ceiling has been raised on an arbitrary, ad hoc basis which was not in line with the reality of our economic position.

"By admitting that Government continues to use debt to service its day to day commitments and pledging to create an oversight board to address government spending, the Minister is taking a realistic and appropriate approach to dealing with this huge issue.”

Speaking on behalf of the Real Estate sector, Chamber Board member  Buddy Rego noted “We are delighted that the Government has listened to industry and have seen the natural correlation between reducing the cost of purchasing property and the positive impact it will have in the construction and other related industries.

"When housing starts to move again we can only expect construction to rally, and the economy to strengthen as new home owners purchase furnishings, fittings and other home improvement supplies. Government will also enjoy a significant increase in revenues through additional stamp duty fees.”