Be transformative without being vindictive

  • David Burt (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    David Burt (Photograph by Akil Simmons)


Dear Sir,

The following remarks are in response to two excerpts from the Premier’s ministerial statement, of November 15, 2019 entitled “2018 Throne Speech and Beyond: Charting a path for the future while challenging the status quo, to build a Bermuda that works for everyone”.

Excerpt No 1: “The fact is that the 2018 Throne Speech, by any objective measure was one of the most ambitious in recent memory, with 56 separate pledges, many of which were transformative in their nature. Not all of those items could be realistically completed within a ten-month session, so it made sense for the Government to skip the ceremony while we kept working.”

The Premier pretty much said it himself: the 2018 Throne Speech was unrealistic. Most people knew this before the lawn was cleared a year ago. But, for the sake of argument, let us offer David Burt and his government even further latitude — not sure how much of that is left.

If indeed the 56 pledges were “ambitious” and you needed more time than ten months to complete, shouldn’t the work you skipped the ceremony to accomplish be centred around whichever of the 56 pledges you did not get to tackle as yet?

If you are being sincere, this ministerial statement should have represented a progress report on last year’s Throne Speech; instead, it offered sometimes misleading feel-good tidbits of the Progressive Labour Party’s accomplishments over the past 2˝ years — the balanced budget for the first time in 17 years (mis)leading the way, most of us know this was achieved only by suspending payments to the Sinking Fund.

The other ideas presented, which mainly highlighted an animosity towards those the PLP holds responsible for the “status quo”, were of the pie-in-the-sky calibre, as most of it involved distributing funds we don’t have to entrepreneurs or allowing individuals to tap into their retirement savings; that is literally some risky business. Not only are these plans hopeful at best, but the Government proposing them has a proven track record of underachieving — after all, this is the main reason given for forgoing this year’s Throne Speech.

What confidence should the people of Bermuda have in the present government to complete the tasks set forth in 2018, plus any new and “ambitious?” schemes/pledges it has in mind for the future? If we, the people, cannot trust your Throne Speech from last year, why should we put faith in you to deliver on promises within this year’s delegates speech and ministerial statement?

I must note here that no specific timelines were stated for these initiatives, apart from the mortgage guarantee programme to be implemented in 2020. As for the six bulleted items in the Premier’s conclusion, we’re left to assume these will be realised in the coming year.

Excerpt No 2: “Many universities have long determined that summer breaks designed to allow students to return home and work the fields or other such labour are equally archaic and, as such, universities now promote degree courses that can be completed in half the usual time, recognising that the world has changed.”

So with the changing times, we should adapt; I’m fine with that. But I wonder how any of us would feel if we weren’t allowed to walk across the stage for our graduation ceremony.

You know, because even though you paid for room and board, and books and other incidentals, the university was falling on hard times — largely of its own making — and wanted to save a few bucks.

Meanwhile, the president and school heads are rolling around in classy vehicles and living in plush houses your school fees helped to pay for. Would you be all cheery inside? Or would you feel somewhat snubbed and begrudged?

Well, snubbed and begrudged is how I feel, and I assure you I’m not alone; it is a growing sentiment as this government becomes more entrenched in divisiveness and democratic disregard. Actions speak louder than words, Mr Premier.

There is no reason why the citizens of Bermuda should trust that you will come through on your most recent promises, particularly your relaxation on the robust tax regimes.

If this does happen, this government will have even less funds to sustain our island and pay down the massive debt, let alone support the wildly ambitious plans it has to “change the status quo”.

You have to crawl before you walk. Failure to do so will result in a country that has run out of steam.

This seems to be the direction the PLP has us going; floundering in the ebb and flow of immaturity and instability.

This government must find a way to be transformative without being so vindictive; show decisiveness without divisiveness; backbone without backbiting. Petulance is not the way to prosperity. I hope this is realised before it’s too late.

ANTHONY LEE

Sandys

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Published Dec 19, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 19, 2019 at 8:17 am)

Be transformative without being vindictive

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