Two years later: are we better off?
Two years ago, when the Progressive Labour Party won the General Election, we were promised all manner of things — reduced healthcare costs, lower cost of living and greater transparency, among others.
We heard the phrase “Promises made, promises kept” from the Premier, we read about memorandums of understanding that would bring dozens of jobs for Bermudians and millions of dollars of investment in training. We’ve been promised immigration reform.
We’ve heard a lot of promises, haven’t we, but what is the reality?
Let’s start with the economy.
We have witnessed 13 consecutive months of decline in retail sales volume, the lowest business confidence ever recorded, a fall in consumer confidence to its lowest level in five years and no fintech jobs.
In the past two years, we have also seen an increase in land tax, a new and increased sugar tax and a business dividend tax that has hit small and medium-sized Bermudian companies.
With so many new or increased taxes taking chunks of money out of people’s income, is it any wonder that retail sales have suffered? And, remember, 3,500 Bermudians are employed in that sector.
We want fintech to succeed — we need it to succeed because there simply is no other plan. Over and over, we have asked the question, “Where is the plan?” We are very concerned that if fintech does not succeed — and succeed soon — there is no Plan B.
As stated in reports from the Department of Statistics, GDP is up only because of large construction projects, such as the airport, which started under the One Bermuda Alliance. Where would we be without those projects?
Other than fintech, in two years this government has provided no clear vision of where it wants the economy to go. In the House of Assembly recently, the Premier spoke about restructuring the economy — but he provided no detail and no vision.
What has happened with our health costs?
There has been no attempt to get on top of the real issue here — overuse of some services — and instead we have had legislation that actually increased the cost of private healthcare insurance.
How does that fit into the promise of lowering health costs? How does that make people better off?
Immigration reform, which has already cost one Cabinet minister his job, has stalled. We were supposed to be presented with a plan in the House earlier this month.
Immigration was one of the top three issues identified by businesses in the recent business confidence survey, yet what did Wayne Caines say to them? In a speech in the House, he told them to “suck it up” and “take your licks”.
What else have we seen in the past two years?
We’ve seen the grab for the two corporations, the farce of the bus timetable, we’ve seen the Civil Service numbers increase and we have yet to see a balanced budget
We saw the then junior finance minister, Wayne Furbert, get $60,000 for chairing a committee, and we saw an increase in the ministerial payroll.
We’ve seen the pejorative use of words such as “Indian” to describe our chief justice, or “titty milk” from our Minister of National Security, and misogynistic remarks from our Minister of Public Works, who also used the House of Assembly as a stage from which to attack an independent senator for simply doing his job.
We’ve seen the Attorney-General refusing to answer questions about allegations surrounding the Department of Child and Family Services and we were blacklisted by the European Union.
We’ve seen political interference in bodies such as the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission — there are still no casinos here creating jobs — the Regulatory Authority and the Bermuda Heath Council.
Put into context like this, it is clear that this government is floundering and is out of ideas, and I ask, Bermuda, after two years of the PLP, are you better off?
• Craig Cannonier is the Leader of the One Bermuda Alliance and the MP for Devonshire South Central (Constituency 12)
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