It really is tighten-your-belt time

  • Budget day: Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, stands outside Veritas Place, Court Street, and the temporary home of Parliament, to deliver the 2020-2021 Budget Statement last week (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Budget day: Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, stands outside Veritas Place, Court Street, and the temporary home of Parliament, to deliver the 2020-2021 Budget Statement last week (Photograph by Akil Simmons)


Dear Sir,

Once upon a time, Bermuda was a powerhouse in soccer. We beat USA, Canada and Mexico, but once upon a time is over.

Once upon a time Bermuda was a powerhouse in the area of tourism. We were the envy of other countries and the jewel of the travel agents, but once upon a time is over.

Once upon a time Bermuda was the powerhouse of insurance industry, the money-spinning model for the reinsurance industry, but once upon a time is over.

There is a song which mirrors Bermuda’s present position on the world stage. The title is Everything must change.

Indeed, everything must change as nothing remains the same. It is the cycle of life, the rhapsody of a song.

A beginning, a maturing and an ending — the eternal cycle of nature.

The clarion call by the captains of business and the pundits of politics is: “Economic activity in Bermuda is declining. There is an ever-decreasing population pool. Businesses are closing monthly.”

And the solution proposed by these political talking heads and giants of industry is: “Bring in more people.”

The business leaders and others believe in the following equation: More people = increased commercial activity = more jobs created = more government revenue = prosperity for all! A virtual paradise!

But consider these questions before conjuring up a return to Eden based on an immigration holy grail:

1, what assets does Bermuda have to develop?

2, what size population can Bermuda, the physical size of an average English town, sustain and what industries are possible given the geographical constraints?

3, what will the imported population do and from where will they come?

4, what industries will they improve, create or just work in?

5, how do you maintain a balanced population with a declining birth rate?

6, how can you maintain the present level of services under the circumstances already cited?

7, will climate change rob the country of its one tangible asset — a good climate?

8, will competition from other jurisdictions devastate our fragile insurance industry?

The answer to the questions posed cannot simply be more people!

“The times they are a-changing” goes the song, and it is time for Bermuda to stomach a heavy dose of reality. We will never get back to the heady days of the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Those days are over!

We must accept and suffer the consequences of our economic and political conditions which will result in:

1, a lower level of service provided by the Government

2, stagnant wages and a lower more realistic standard of living

3, smaller profit margins for businesses

4, real estate value declines

5, less conspicuous consumption

Continually raising taxes and prices are not sustainable responses.

Until someone comes up with a new idea to exploit the resources Bermuda has to offer and market them much like the birth of tourism and international business; it is tightening-your-belt and living-within-your-means time!

And for all the merchants complaining that people are not purchasing their goods: people cannot buy without money!

CLEVELYN CRICHLOW

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Published Feb 27, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 26, 2020 at 11:52 pm)

It really is tighten-your-belt time

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