First quarter graphs
House: Figures show economic recovery
Employment has risen, government revenues are up, spending is down and the deficit has been cut by 24 per cent, the Premier said yesterday.
David Burt, also the finance minister, told the House of Assembly that “the facts totally disprove this tired narrative from the Opposition” that the Government was a “tax and spend” administration.
However, Jeanne Atherden, the Opposition leader, argued the One Bermuda Alliance deserved credit for policies that paved the way for economic growth.
The news came as a report into the Government’s finances between 2012 and 2016 was released.
Auditor-General Heather Thomas urged the Government to come up with a plan to “get to grips” with its mounting debt.
Mr Burt said the Government had a deficit of $29.9 million for the first three months of 2018-19, compared with $39.4 million for the same period last year.
He told Parliament other highlights from the first quarter of the fiscal year included:
• Revenues collected were $260.1 million, an increase of $5.7 million, or 2.2 per cent, compared with last year’s first quarter
• Current account expenditures, excluding debt service, was $231.1 million, down $851,000, or 0.37 per cent, on last year;
• Employment had increased by 322, with 33,909 people now in work
• Visitor air arrivals were up by 5.4 per cent and hotel occupancy up by 4.8 per cent.
Mr Burt said 83 per cent of the new jobs were held by Bermudians.
He added that spending was down despite an end to the hiring freeze for the Civil Service and a “well-deserved” raise for public sector workers.
Mr Burt said: “To hear the Opposition tell it, this government has no handle on the public purse and every new initiative is cast as overspending or not thought through.
“I want all Honourable Members and the people of Bermuda to understand that in the first quarter of this fiscal year the state of government finances are improving. Why? Because the numbers say so.”
He added: “This government has demonstrated that you can do more for seniors, you can do more for students who want to further their education, and that you can do more to reduce the burden on hardworking Bermudian families, and do so while properly managing a national budget.
“This first quarter performance shows the people of Bermuda that this government is determined to work for them, maintain control of public finances and lift them up in the process.
“We are on course for increased economic activity and growth that targets Bermudians who, thanks to this government, now have a chance to benefit directly from Bermuda’s economic success.”
But Ms Atherden said the improvement represented growth that was “already in train” under the OBA government.
She added that jobs were in the pipeline under the previous administration because of the airport redevelopment and the Morgan’s Point hotel project, and called for a full breakdown of the numbers.
But Ms Atherden also praised the announcement of the figures and said legislators needed to be updated with quarterly reports.
Mr Burt slammed the Caroline Bay development at Morgan’s Point and said it had been in default since January 2017.
He said he would be “happy to research” what jobs had been generated by specific projects.