BPSU gives Budget top marks
The Government got high marks from the Bermuda Public Services Union for the latest Budget’s moves for cutting public debt
The BPSU president, Armell Thomas, singled out the 2021-22 Budget plans for lowering the island’s deficit from $245 million to $125 million while restoring full pay for the civil service after a year of austerity.
Mr Thomas said the deficit cut “starts the journey to a balanced budget”.
He added: “It is particularly good to see that the 2020-21 deficit is forecast at $245 million, down from the prior estimate of $294 million.”
The Budget strikes an “appropriate balance” between economic recovery and getting to a balanced budget by fiscal year 2023-24.
The Budget was delivered on Friday by Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister.
Mr Thomas commended the contribution from the BPSU along with the Bermuda Industrial Union, Bermuda Union of Teachers and the Bermuda Police Association.
The BPSU welcomed austerity measures not continuing after July 31.
The island’s economy fell 9 per cent over last year, making a projected 3.5 per cent rise in gross domestic product for the year ahead “seem reasonable”, he said.
He highlighted that Government revenues were predicted to get “a modest increase” of $50 million to $1,048 million.
Mr Thomas said: “It is very encouraging that the deficit in the proposed budget can be comfortably supported from resources in the Government’s Sinking Fund thereby eliminating the need to borrow any additional funds.”
Mr Dickinson predicted on Friday that Bermuda could return to a balanced budget in the 2023-24 fiscal year, averting further borrowing.
Mr Thomas said: “Under this plan, gross debt has peaked at the current level of $3.35 billion.
“Debt reduction could begin within three years which is critical for our country.”
Avoiding a downgrade of the island’s debt would be “essential”.
The BPSU recognised Mr Dickinson’s “pragmatic approach”, Mr Thomas said, with unemployment relief balanced with economic recovery and financial reforms.
He said it was “promising if ministries stick to their budgets” and supported the Government’s immigration and tourism plans to draw companies, people and new tourism initiatives.