Premier praised for financial management
Ministers have kept a careful eye on the public purse strings in their first year at the helm, despite a “curious” list of government priorities, a political observer claimed last night.
Denis Pitcher said he believed spending has been curbed in comparison to previous Progressive Labour Party administrations and welcomed a move to expand the financial technology industry.
The independent analyst also explained that external influences, particularly the global economy, could bring about “considerable disruption” and highlighted the need for Bermuda to continue to manage risk.
Mr Pitcher said: “The PLP has performed a reasonably positive job in their first year in government.
“While they did not manage all of their first hundred-day pledges, they have continued delivering on many of them as well as quietly ticking off a variety of their platform promises.
He added: “The first year has not been without controversy, however, and the priorities of the Government have certainly raised eyebrows for some.
“A noticeable and welcome change from the previous PLP administration is that they appear far more restrained with regard to money management.
“The Budget was encouraging and the PLP are hopefully on track to keeping spending below estimates.
“We simply cannot afford to add any further debt and there is a sense that this reality is understood by the current administration.”
He added: “The administration’s priorities have been curious. They have focused a considerable amount of energy on placating and rallying their core supporters as if they’re still campaigning.
“While the same-sex marriage legislation was a platform pledge, it has been curious that it has been such a top priority.
“Similarly, the rush to take ministerial control of the gambling commission created a considerable amount of controversy and yet there has seemingly been no progress since.
“Then, there are the ongoing mentions of independence. It is odd that these issues are so prominent versus more immediate ones.”
Mr Pitcher said: “The Premier’s longstanding pledge to develop a fintech industry on the island shows promise and is one which I strongly support.
“The number of companies incorporating and the raft of memorandums of understanding demonstrate that there is potential opportunity to be had.”
He added he was concerned by recent “odd and confusing” announcements by cryptocurrency exchange and coin company Arbitrade, which included a promise that it would donate $45,000 to a programme to put gang members to work on chicken farms.
Mr Pitcher went on: “It is hoped that the Government will do thorough due diligence to ensure that any prospective cryptocurrency business represents a well audited and upstanding business rather than a scam.
“We desperately need to attract credible and viable businesses to grow this industry.”
Meanwhile, he said: “The PLP faces considerable external challenges that could cause considerable disruption.”
Mr Pitcher warned: “The global economy is increasingly looking to be in the later stages of the economic cycle with another global recession looming on the horizon.”
He added the Government had to be “very wary” of the risks of borrowing more money.
Mr Pitcher said the Government “faces an ongoing challenge of being composed of a diverse range of political ideologies.
He added: “This will likely create a growing tension within the party in the absence of a credible opposition if each ideological group fails to see enough progress.
“How the PLP will balance the pro-business efforts of Premier Burt and Minister of National Security Wayne Caines with the desires for policy to address income and racial inequality is unknown.
“Maintaining and growing our economy while also significantly addressing income and racial inequality will be a delicate task that may not keep everyone satisfied.”
• To read Denis Pitcher’s comments in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”
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