*File photo
*File photo

The Hon. E.T. Richards J.P., M.P., Minister of Finance today provided details of the proposed relief for the local construction industry.

Minister Richards said: “As the Premier outlined in his address on Monday, June 9th, the local construction industry has been particularly hard hit by the economic contraction of the last five years. At least 1,200 jobs have been lost. However, the recent announcement that planning applications in the first six months of the year have markedly increased between 2013 and 2014 should result in an uptick in construction work.”

Concerning proposed relief for the industry that is intended to maintain existing business operations and promote job creation, Minister Richards said: “The construction industry makes a vital contribution to the competitiveness and prosperity of the economy and is an important gateway to the attraction of much needed foreign investment. What we are proposing is similar to the new Bermudian hire payroll tax relief initiative that was introduced in the 2013/14 Budget. Initially this relief will be targeted towards the construction of specific projects of national importance that have been approved by the Economic Development Committee.”

The Economic Development Committee (EDC) is comprised of the Hon. Michael Dunkley J.P., M.P., Premier and Minister of National Security, Minister Richards, the Hon. Shawn Crockwell J.P., M.P., Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, The Hon. Patricia Gordon-Pamplin J.P., M.P., Minister of Public Works and Senator the Hon. Michael Fahy J.P., Minister of Home Affairs. The EDC is dedicated to ensuring large scale projects, especially those focused on new hotel developments, are given top priority and approvals at the highest levels of Government.

Minister Richards added: “Direct foreign investment is going to be one of the critical ways in which we dig ourselves out of this economic stagnation that has seen job losses and business closures during the last five years. We must attract foreign capital to our shores that will provide jobs not just in the construction industry, but all the other sectors that benefit from a growing workforce with more money to spend and invest in our local economy. The Bermuda Government can’t finance the projects and create jobs but we can provide a climate conducive to job creators to bring their capital, expertise and experience to get our economy moving again.”