The following statement was released by One Bermuda Alliance Senator, Dro Douglas DeCouto, Shadow Minister of Finance…
During Friday’s debate on the Corporate Income Tax (CIT) Bill in the House of Assembly, the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) laid an amendment to require that any excess CIT income must be set aside to reduce Bermuda’s stifling debt and address our crumbling infrastructure.
Bermuda’s massive $3.1bn net debt and current annual interest payments of $130m this year prevents the Government from properly investing in our island and her people, including crucial social issues like healthcare and housing.
If our debt were a Ministry, the interest costs alone would make it a close fourth-largest budgeted expense, behind Health ($199m), Education ($139m), and National Security ($131m).
The OBA amendment was no reflection on the technical content of the CIT bill, which we cautiously support, while being mindful of the potential risks to our island, risks also noted by many PLP MPs.
Unfortunately for Bermuda, the OBA amendment was not able to proceed, but it did enable a robust public debate on Bermuda’s precarious fiscal situation.
The idea that any CIT revenue be used to pay down debt and fix infrastructure came from many sources, including concerns we hear on the doorstep, and views from numerous people in business and finance. Feedback we have received from across the island confirms that for most people, this is the right thing to do.
In fact, the idea of using CIT income to pay debt and fix infrastructure is so sensible that it was explicitly recommended by the Fiscal Responsibility Panel’s most recent 2023 Report tabled in the House on Friday, and supported in concept by the former Finance Minister.
Although the OBA amendment did not succeed, it remains necessary for the Government to explain to the Bermuda its plans, not merely promises, for fixing our debt and infrastructure, and how the Government will ensure it will commit to those plans.