BPSU quizzes OBA and PLP on behalf of its members

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The Bermuda Public Services Union has asked questions of both political parties on behalf of their members.

General Secretary Edward Ball Jr explained: “The membership requested that we seek clarification on some of the key points. The questions came from our membership. The responses were are pretty much sticking to their platforms and ideologies. Because civil servants serve the Government of the day, the BPSU does not take a position on any particular party but we advise members to be mindful of policies that may affect them as workers.”

Here are the questions, and a summarised account of their responses:

BPSU: What are your views on saving open spaces and protecting the environment?

PLP: Says it “has a record of standing strong for Bermuda’s natural beauty”. Preserved Southlands, designated dozens of new national parks.

OBA: Pledges to incorporate environmental considerations in all government decision-making, implement a programme of expansion and upgrade of neighbourhood parks, recreational and open green spaces, coastal parks and picnic areas and require environmental impact studies to be done on all major and unusual developments and projects. Will also establish a national reforestation plan, along with a national seed bank, deliver on the Southlands national park and conduct coastal sensitivity mapping aimed at identifying risk hazards and vulnerable areas. The party says it will provide incentives for new developments on brown field sites, aggressively pursue illegal development, enforce penalties against littering and illegal dumping and review the whole planning process.

BPSU: How do you propose to deal with the $1.5 billion debt in the next five years?

PLP: Says its record “proves that we know how to invest in Bermudians to create jobs and a better way of life”. Will grow revenues by growing the economy. “Deep and radical cuts are the wrong way to go” and “we will pay down the debt by investing in our people and growing our economy and our tax base. When we invest in people, it puts more money in their pockets that is spent in our economy. That consumer activity creates demand which creates jobs and profits broadening the tax base and bringing in more revenue. That revenue mitigates the deficit and the debt”.

OBA: “Harsh austerity measures could have a negative impact on growth and prolong the recession. And we know that we can’t grow our way out of debt by continued Government spending alone; that could lead Bermuda into a much deeper financial hole and loss of our hard-earned reputation.” Says party will stimulate investment, restore confidence, create new jobs for Bermudians. References its Jobs and Economic Turnaround Plan.

BPSU: What plans do you have to find jobs for the youth of Bermuda?

PLP: Says it has provided “an unprecedented number of job training programmes” and lists them. Will provide increased opportunities through Jobs Corps and turning Bermuda College into a university. Will start a “New Business Initiative specifically designed to help young entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground”.

OBA: Again refers to Turnaround Plan. References plans to create jobs for young Bermudians and “create ladders of opportunity”.

BPSU: How does your party propose to address the mindset of Bermudians who seem to pay little attention to the quality of education their children receive and do not have high expectations for their children as it relates to their work/study performance at school?

PLP: “The PLP believes in Bermudians. We believe that if opportunities are created and available, that our people will take advantage of them.” References programmes such as Job Corps and the One Stop Career Centre as well as turning the College into a university.

OBA: “Our efforts to engage parents to play a more central role in their children’s education will begin with programmes aimed at parental involvement at the preschool and primary level in order to establish strong connections at an early stage in their children’s development. We believe more needs to be done to enhance early childhood screening and intervention for learning and behavioural deficits, working with parents, to ensure that more children are school-ready by the time they enter primary school.” Says it will also encourage PTAs to be stronger and more effective and establish school boards to include parents.

BPSU: How will your administration/Government address and improve education:

PLP: Says it intends to lower the school age to four years so that all children get a “head start” on their educations, “strengthen the entire school system” and “assess the feasibility of upgrading Bermuda College to a university college”.

OBA: Invites readers to peruse the Jobs and Economic Turnaround Plan. Says it will implement the Hopkins Report, ensure pre school education for all Bermudian children, measure performance and ensure accountability for results, implement a technical education curriculum from middle school through to college, implement a comprehensive review of special education, and invest in continuing education and retraining.

BPSU: How will your administration/Government address and improve the economy?

PLP: Says it will create jobs by building the economy. “This encompasses a wide range of initiatives, from investing in the infrastructure in ways that stimulate business growth, to providing training to give Bermudians the skills to get good-paying jobs and support their families.” Pledges to add to Economic Empowerment zones, increase tourism and attract new international investment. It will also invest in programmes for seniors and young people. Investments in community development, healthcare, housing and social services will raise living standards for working people and the middle class.

OBA: Will encourage pro-growth economic policies and eliminate wasteful Government spending in order to create jobs for Bermudians and reduce the national debt.

BPSU: How will your administration/Government address and improve the public sector / Civil Service?

PLP: No answer provided

OBA: Civil servant jobs will be safe under an OBA Government. We will not lay off civil servants. We will invite civil servants to partner with us to reduce our crippling Government debt by strictly adhering to budgets and by seeking ways to improve the efficiency of government departments.

BPSU: How does your party plan to assist Bermudians between the ages of 16-24 to find employment?

PLP: References Jobs Corps and One Stop Career Centre. “The red carpet concierge for college graduates will help connect returning graduates with jobs. And, the New Business Initiative will help provide support to our young entrepreneurs looking to start job creating businesses here in Bermuda.”

OBA: Repeats plans for job creation, bringing in a technical curriculum and says it will increase the number of guidance counsellors.

BPSU: Does your party have a favourable opinion in reference to the role that labour unions play in the Bermuda?

PLP: “Yes. We believe that labour unions play a vital role in our democracy. They stand up for workers and working people. They are the advocate for working Bermudians who deserve to be treated fairly by employers.”

OBA: “Yes, the One Bermuda Alliance understands and appreciates the important role that labour unions play in Bermuda in protecting the rights of workers. We also appreciate the broader role that labour unions play in the area of workforce development, as well as the importance of an effective working relationship among Government, employers and unions.”

BPSU: Specifically, what are your parties plans for debt reduction?

PLP: Says Bermuda’s debt ration “remains among the lowest in the developed world”. Plans to grow the economy through investing in people.

OBA: Will create a Public Debt Advisory Board to advise Government on reducing debt.

BPSU: What can your party do to protect our jobs to make sure there are no more job losses?

PLP: Says it will expand the Economic Empowerment Zones. Will “take a balanced approach to immigration” and focus on job training programmes to create employment opportunities for Bermudians.

OBA: “Growing our economy is the only way to create more jobs, and to protect the jobs of those already employed.”

BPSU: What can your party do to fix our roads and when?

PLP: “Roads are an infrastructure investment. We believe in job creating infrastructure investments, however, we must be cognisant of the debt when engaging in a major road building and improvement initiative.” Will continue to engage in road maintenance programmes “as financially prudent in the next term”.

OBA: Says it will implement an Island-wide road improvement programme.

BPSU: We need more lights on the public streets, in the city and in neighbourhoods for the safety and security of the public.

PLP: “Since 1998, the PLP has engaged in dozens of street lighting in constituencies across the Island. We’ve prioritised places that need it most due to high density and public safety issues. We will continue to invest in street lights and expand the programme to help create a safer environment across our Island.”

OBA: “We agree about the need for more lights on public streets, in Hamilton and in neighbourhoods across the Island, for the safety and security of our citizens ... an OBA government will address this issue on an urgent basis.”

l The full answers from the OBA can be viewed on their website: www.oba.bm. The PLP has advised that it plans to post its full answers: www.plp.bm.

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Published Dec 17, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm)

BPSU quizzes OBA and PLP on behalf of its members

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