Bermuda’s Government Amends Revenue Proposals after Public Complains
HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) _ Under increased public pressure, Finance Minister David Saul on Wednesday announced tax amendments to the government’s 1990 austerity budget that will reduce revenue proposals by $6.1 million.
Saul said he was backing off his proposal to limit Bermudians’ duty-free allowance on goods purchased on trips overseas to $250 per person a year, making it $500 worth of goods instead.
The restriction was one of the most severly criticized measures in the $370 million budget he announced Feb. 21.
The new package also reduces planned government increases in customs duty on diesel and gasoline imports, in land tax and in an airport departure tax that will now amount to $15 per person.
The minister told Parliament, ″The reductions in taxes are substantial and I hope they will be seen as clear evidence of government’s response to the concerns expressed by the public.″
But he added, ″The government cannot accept the argument that reductions in revenue should be offset by more borrowing.″
He said Bermuda will have to borrow at least $150 million over five years to pay for a new prison, a garbage incinerator plant, a sports stadium and other capital projects.
Wednesday’s retreat followed an outpouring of protests over the budget. Thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of Hamilton and the Bermuda Industrial Union called its 6,000 members out on a one-day strike.
Further public protests over government efforts to tackle a rising balance of payments deficit of more than $30 million have not been ruled out.