Three days after the resignation of Curtis Dickinson as Finance Minister, there is still no official word on who will head up the Ministry of Tourism, now that Premier David Burt holds the Finance portfolio.
Speaking at the Swearing-In ceremony held at Government House earlier this week, Mr Burt said a decision on what he plans to do with the Tourism portfolio he still holds, in the days ahead.
Responding to questions fielded by TNN, Mr Burt said: “Clearly with the additional responsibilities of finance, there will need to be a reallocation of portfolios and those will be the things that will be decided on in the near future.
“You have to recognise that we had Cabinet yesterday (Tuesday)…we had party meetings last evening and other things that took place on Monday, so I’ve had not had the time to speak with all my Ministers yet.
“I have not had the time to speak to our fellow colleagues, but there will certainly be a reassignment of portfolios as we move towards the Budget period. Then we can take a look at things after the Budget period.
“The most important thing to do is to make sure that we get through the Budget period.”
On the abrupt resignation, he stated: “As I said earlier this week, I reluctantly accepted Curtis’ resignation and did so out of respect for him.
“I sincerely valued his time and counsel as Minister of Finance and look forward to his continued support of this government and take this opportunity again to thank him for his service.
“Needless to say, we are on the cusp of the delivery of a Budget for the next fiscal year and I can confirm that the schedule for the Budget is unaltered.
“Budget Day is February 25th and the work in preparation of the Budget, which begins in October of the previous year, was largely completed prior to MP Dickinson’s resignation on Monday.”
On that note he added: “I have already started working with the dedicated team in the Ministry of Finance to compose a Statement in Support of the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the Fiscal Year 2022/23.”
The Premier also stated: “This will be an extremely difficult budget as we strike the balance required to stabilize public finances, promote economic growth, deliver on our election promises, and provide relief and services for the people of this country.
“That is the task ahead and every waking hour is now devoted to repairing the damage done to the economy by the pandemic and returning activity and growth to our economic forecasts.
“There are also critical promises on which we must deliver related to finance,” he added, saying:
● Pension reform to assist first time-homeowners
● Mortgage relief for hardworking families
● Enhanced protection for consumers when dealing with banks and other financial institutions; and
● Tax reform to promote greater equality in our tax system
On the timing of Mr Dickinson’s departure from Cabinet, Mr Burt said: “No resignation from the Cabinet is ideal and there is no ideal time for such a thing to occur. However, the strength of our system of Government is in continuity.
“The Ministry of Finance is staffed by a team of consummate professionals with whom I have had the privilege of working previously and this will be a seamless transition thanks to their level of expertise and constant attention to the various issues, both local and foreign that impact the Ministry’s mission.
“Additionally, the Cabinet is likewise preparing for this new fiscal year and laying the groundwork for the delivery of those items promised in the 2021 Throne Speech and our 2020 General Election Platform.
“There is a resilience in both the Cabinet and the backbench that will serve Bermuda well as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic and continue to commit ourselves every day to improving the lives of the people we serve.”