Shadow Minister of Finance David Burt told MPs the next Progressive Labour Party government “will stop the exodus of Bermudians that are fleeing the country because they cannot find work in Bermuda”.
In his Reply to the Budget on Friday, Mr Burt said his party “will give Bermudians hope and opportunity for a brighter future”. And the legacy of the One Bermuda Alliance, he said, will be the “the great Bermudian exodus”.
In three years under the new administration, he noted that the OBA added $1 billion to the island’s debt. Instead of delivering the 2,000 jobs promised, he said 2,266 jobs were lost.
He also predicted that the latest Budget would be the OBA’s last, as funds to prepare for a General Election have been allocated in the new fiscal plan.
“What many may have missed in the budget book is that the Parliamentary Registrar has been allocated funds to prepare for a General Election, so there is a distinct possibility that this may be the last time that the PLP has an opportunity to present its economic vision to the people of this country before we are returned to the Government benches,” said Mr Burt.
He also accused the OBA of being out of touch with the plight of ordinary Bermudians.
“What Bermuda needs more than anything else is a plan for economic growth. What Bermuda and Bermudians desperately needs is jobs. However, last week we learned that Bermuda has lost 2,266 jobs under this Minister of Finance. Before the election, the Minister famously promised 2,000 jobs and declared that he had investors that would be able to bring jobs and growth to Bermuda; the people of the country are asking right now, where are those investors? Where are the jobs?
“This government has failed to produce the jobs promised; they have failed to improve education; they have failed at tourism; they have failed in providing hope and opportunities to Bermudians. Their term in office will be remembered as the great Bermuda exodus, where Bermudians were forced to flee their homeland to search for opportunities elsewhere,” said Mr Burt.
International investors he said, “need to know that they have a stable platform on which to base their investment decisions”.
“Immigration policy can change from government to government; we will not attract the long-term investment that we need if potential investors feel that the rules may change after an election,” he said.
A PLP Government he said would:
• Create an Economic Diversification Unit
• Streamline the Civil Service through technology, management and performance-based pay for senior managers
• Use government-owned Crown Corporations instead of privatisation to make the Civil Service more efficient and bring in revenue
• Invest in a “green economy” with renewable energy on government buildings, with hybrid and electric vehicles in the government fleet.
• Greater consumer protection over banking and money lending
• Build studio apartments for younger Bermudians to purchase
• Turn over arable government land for domestic food production
“The priorities of the next PLP government will be to focus on growing and diversifying the economy and creating jobs for Bermudians who are still here and those who want to return. We will create an economic diversification unit with the sole purpose of diversifying our economy. We will get serious about tourism and invest in that vital industry. We will make sure that we invest in the education, training and retooling of the Bermudian labour force. We will deal with the extremely high cost of living that is affecting Bermudians and making their life difficult. We will stop the exodus of Bermudians that are fleeing the country because they cannot find work in Bermuda. Finally, we will give Bermudians hope and opportunity for a brighter future,” said Mr Burt.
“It falls to me to present that alternative economic vision on behalf of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party, and it is my hope that after my presentation here today, the people of this country – black or white, Bermudian or expat, young or old, CEO or street sweeper – know where the Progressive Labour Party will take our economy after the next election.”
MPs return to the House of Assembly to debate the 2016-14 Budget on Monday.
More in subsequent Bermuda Real reports.