♦ The following statement was released by Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Sylvan Richards today Friday, December 21, 2018

Premier David Burt suggested on the floor of the House of Assembly that the reason the PLP will succeed on advancing immigration reform where the oba couldn’t was because the PLP holds the people’s trust.

So, when is the PLP going to start using its mandate and the trust it claims to hold to have real conversations about immigration and how it relates to the major economic challenges facing Bermuda?

Retail sales have fallen for more than six consecutive months for the first time in 5½ years and Bermuda needs more people living and working here, spending money to support the many retail jobs held by Bermudians whose jobs must now be under some threat.

The America’s Cup benefitted Bermuda – it cost $64m and generated more than $350m for the economy – but the direct stimulus is long gone and as a result, Bermudians are now suffering due to Government’s short-sighted approach and the purely political reasons for not capitalizing and building on the AC legacy.

A case in point is Tourism Minister Zane DeSilva’s recent comments that he would now support anything that brings more people to Bermuda when asked about Bermuda potentially participating in Team Oracle Larry Elllison’s new world sailing series SailGP which he plans to inaugurate in September 2019 using the very same sailing catamarans that raced in the 2017 America’s Cup.

The fact that the Premier put the architect in chief of the immigration protests, Walton Brown, in charge of Immigration, which eventually led to a backlog of work permits that was so bad it took the direct intervention from international business who asked the Premier to deal with the situation, shows that actually addressing immigration is far less important than using it as a campaign tool.

And the fact that Minister Caines had to be moved from Fintech to Immigration to clean up the backlog shows just how few options the Premier has on his abundant back bench to help the cause.

The Government needs to start communicating with its people about how they are going to address the real issues facing Bermuda. Where is the Government’s plan? Is it Fintech or bust? Is there another plan to save the economy and protect the jobs of Bermudians?