Burt also said a Progressive Labour Party (PLP) government would phase out middle schools in a shake-up of the current education system and introduce a new curriculum with more focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Responding to the one billion US dollar fiscal package presented by Finance Minister Bob Richards last Friday, Burt accused the ruling One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) of prioritising debt control and politics over addressing inequality in its billion-dollar (US) Budget last week.
It was “clear that an election is in the air”, he told legislators, claiming pledges on tax cuts for the poor and the failure to raise the debt ceiling were indicators that the ruling party was preparing to go the polls.
However, he said the OBA had not gone far enough to address the imbalance in society.
He said if the PLP wins the next election it would try to create more fairness through a new Tax Reform Commission, an Economic Diversification Unit and a job-creating Bermuda Fund.
Delivering what he called the “People’s Budget”, Burt said “fortunately, the PLP does have a plan to create more jobs and make Bermuda more attractive for both local and international business.
“We need to reduce the incentive for companies in Bermuda to outsourcing existing jobs while creating a favourable environment for growth in our domestic and international sectors, which will lead to new jobs.”
Burt described the island’s increasing reliance on payroll tax as “dangerous”.
“We must move quickly to reform our system of taxation before we tax ourselves out of being an attractive jurisdiction,” he added.
He said “vast swathes of domestic wealth and income” had never been subjected to tax, which “by its very construct fosters continued economic inequality”.
A general election is due later this year — or by March 2018 at the latest.
But many pundits think the OBA will cash in on an expected feel-good factor and call an election right after the island plays host to the America’s Cup in May and June — a sailing spectacular being televised worldwide that is expected to bring in thousands of spectators and provide a welcome boost to the struggling economy.
The OBA toppled the PLP from power in the December 2012 general election amid rising unemployment in this British Overseas Territory. The PLP had been in power since 1998 after it ended the 30-year reign of the now-defunct United Bermuda Party.
The OBA inherited a national debt of US$1.2 billion when it took office. The debt has now grown to US$2.4 billion.
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