Dickinson: we must stop borrowing
A “slash-and-burn” approach to cut the cost of the civil service is not in Bermuda’s best interest, the finance minister said last night.
Curtis Dickinson said that such an approach would be “a mistake”.
He explained: “If I was in a company, I might have a different point of view.
“But at the end of the day when companies fire people willy-nilly, they end up with the Government having to provide some sort of assistance.
“So the notion that I would go slash-and-burn and I’d be taking that salary and wages line, so we could come back in and move the Financial Assistance line, is a nonsense.
“It would be the equivalent of moving money from one pocket to the other. Nothing really changes.”
Mr Dickinson added: “The way to fix this is to make it more efficient, and to grow the economy, to create more jobs, so that when people decide they are going to leave they have other jobs they are willing to go to.”
The comments came as Mr Dickinson gave a presentation on the 2020-21 Budget Statement at a town hall meeting.
About 30 people attended the event at the Warwick Workmen’s Club.
The minister said that Government had to be “stop borrowing and ... be more disciplined”.
He added: “What I have said to my Cabinet colleagues is we need to start emulating the behaviour of ordinary Bermudians.
“Every month, or every week, you get a paycheque, you decide what your needs are, what your wants are, and the wants get chucked off to the side because you don’t have any money left. You can’t do that.”
Mr Dickinson said of the Government: “You can’t go borrow $1 million willy-nilly and not have to work at paying it back, because it doesn’t work that way.”
He said that the objective of the Budget was to “strike a balance” between fiscal and social responsibility.
Mr Dickinson added: “It has been said and felt by a number of people that the economy is not moving fast enough.”
He said that the Budget sought to provide “some level of stimulus to get the economy moving”.
Mr Dickinson said that he stood by his statement this week that it was not the job of the Government to bail out the retail sector.
He added that the challenges faced by Bermuda retailers were no different from other retailers in other parts of the world, and that local businesses needed to update their models.
Mr Dickinson said that the Government had provided some help in the form of tax relief to retailers so that infrastructure upgrades could be made to modernise businesses.
He added that the relationship between himself and retail was one of collaboration.
Mr Dickinson said: “There are 4,300 people who work in retail. If retail fails, then people are out of work.
“We’re going to work together to try and figure out a way to make this work for them, but also, more importantly, for all of us.”
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